Byron R. Newton

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Byron Rufus Newton
Byron Rufus Newton in 1917.jpg
Newton in 1917
Collector of the Port of New York
In office
Preceded by Dudley Field Malone
Succeeded by George W. Aldridge
Personal details
Born (1861-08-04)August 4, 1861
Wirt, New York
Died March 20, 1938(1938-03-20) (aged 76)
Bayside, Queens

Byron Rufus Newton (August 4, 1861 – March 20, 1938) was an American journalist, political figure, early aviation promoter, and author of satirical poetry. He was the publicity director of Woodrow Wilson's presidential campaign in 1912, and served as Collector of the Port of New York from 1917 to 1921.[1][2]


He was born in Wirt, New York on August 4, 1861, the son of Laurens C. Newton, a farmer who claimed a remote relation to Sir Isaac Newton. He attended Oberlin College Preparatory School from 1882 to 1884.[2]

He was a reporter for the Buffalo Evening News and the New York Herald and he went to Cuba to cover the Spanish–American War.[2]

He became private secretary to William Gibbs McAdoo in 1910, which brought him into Woodrow Wilson's orbit; he served as publicity director in Wilson's 1912 presidential campaign. After Wilson was elected, and McAdoo became Secretary of the Treasury, Newton was appointed First Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, and in 1917-21 served as Collector of Customs for the Port of New York. Wilson also appointed him to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.[2]

In 1933, he helped lead the fusion campaign which elected Fiorello H. LaGuardia as mayor. Later, LaGuardia appointed him Tax Commissioner for Queens.[1]

Byron R. Newton died on 20 March 1938 in Bayside, Queens, New York City, at age 76. He was buried in Flushing Cemetery.[1]

"Owed To New York"

In 1905, while working at the Herald, he wrote the satirical poem "Owed to New York", which has been frequently quoted[3][4][5][6] and republished.[7][8][9][10]

Vulgar of manner, overfed,
Overdressed and underbred,
Heartless, Godless, Hell's delight,
Rude by day and lewd by night;
Bedwarfed the man, o'ergrown the brute,
Ruled by boss and prostitute:
Purple-robed and pauper-clad,
Raving, rotting, money-mad;
A squirming herd in Mammon's mesh,
A wilderness of human flesh;
Crazed by avarice, lust and rum,
New York, thy name's "Delirium."


  1. ^ a b c "Byron Newton, 76, Queens Tax Chief. Commissioner and a Former Collector of Port of New York Dies of Stroke". New York Times. March 21, 1938.
  2. ^ a b c d "Byron R. Newton Papers". Oberlin College.
  3. ^ Jacob K. Javits, "'New York, Thy Name's Delirium", New York Times, December 24, 1961
  4. ^ Jeff Greenfield, "Big Apple: A Fine Target for All Our Hates", Los Angeles Times, October 26, 1975
  5. ^ Michael T. Kaufman, "The Rhythms of the Week in New York Range from Monday's Largo to the Weekend's Allegro Vivace", New York Times, December 6, 1970
  6. ^ Bruce Weber, "Everyone to City: Drop Dead; Quayle is Just Latest On Bandwagon",New York Times, June 21, 1992
  7. ^ Woods, Ralph L., ed., A Second Treasury of the Familiar. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1955
  8. ^ Felleman, Hazel, ed., The Best Loved Poems of the American People. Garden City, NY: Garden City Books, 1936
  9. ^ Stephen Wolf, ed., I Speak of the City: Poems of New York, New York: Columbia University Press, 2007
  10. ^ James A. Clapp, The City: A Dictionary of Quotable Thoughts on Cities and Urban Life, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2014
Government offices
Preceded by
Dudley Field Malone
Collector of the Port of New York
Succeeded by
George W. Aldridge
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