17 December 2009

28 Universalist Members of Congress

. . . I often hear that Universalists were never historically significant compared to Unitarians. This is an irritating myth that needs to be thoroughly quashed.

Today I am posting a list of 28 Universalists who happened to have served in the US Congress as either senators or congressmen. (6 senators, 24 congressers, including 2 who are on both lists, total 28.)

This page lists senators first, followed by members of the house of representatives. Each list is in chronological order based on the date the individual was elected to congress. (Two of these gentlemen served in both the house and senate and are therefore on both lists.)

For each individual I have also mentioned a few of their other major accomplishments.


Universalist Senators

Timothy Pickering (17 Jul 1745–29 Jan 1829) (also known as Thomas Pickering), patriot in American Revolution; officer in the Massachusetts militia 1766–75; judge of the Massachusetts general court 1774–77; appointed by George Washington army adjutant general 1777–91; US postmaster general 1791–95, US secretary of war 1795, US secretary of state 1795–1800; US senator 1803–11 and congressman for Massachusetts 1812–17; SS Timothy Pickering named in his honor 1942 (sank 1945)

John Milton Niles (20 Aug 1787–30 May 1856), abolitionist; founding owner-editor Hartford Weekly Times c.1817–1847; wrote Life of Oliver Hazard Perry 1820, History of South America and Mexico 1838 (2 volumes) and other books; member of Connecticut legislature 1826–28; postmaster of Hartford 1829–36; US senator for Connecticut 1835–39, 1844–49; US postmaster general 1840–41

Joseph Cilley (14 Jan 1791–16 Sep 1887), brevet captain in the 21st New Hampshire Infantry in the War of 1812; US senator for New Hampshire 1846–47

William Drew Washburn, Sr. (14 Jan 1831–29 Jul 1912), as owner of lumber, railroad, mining and milling enterprises credited with putting Minneapolis on the map; surveyor general of Minnesota 1861–65 (federal position); congressman for Minnesota 1879–85; trustee of Tufts College 1883–95; US senator 1889–95; one of the seven Washburn brothers

Obadiah Gardner (13 Sep 1852–24 Jul 1938), master of the Maine State Grange 1897–1907; US Senator for Maine 1911–13; member of the Joint Commission for Settlement of Questions Arising on Boundary Waters between US and Canada

Marcus Allen Coolidge (6 Oct 1865–23 Jan 1947), mayor of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, 1916; appointed by Calvin Coolidge (a distant cousin) special envoy to Poland for the Peace Commission 1919; US senator for Massachusetts 1931–37


Universalist Members of US House of Representatives (including one member of the Continental Congress)

James Mitchell Varnum (17 Dec 1748–9 Jan 1789), Colonel to Brigadier General in the American Revolution 1774–79; instrumental in allowing African Americans to enlist (they formed the First Rhode Island Infantry); Major General in the Rhode Island militia 1779–80; member of the Continental Congress 1780–82, 1786–87; as supreme court justice in the Northwest Territory 1787–89 opened the first court in present-day Ohio

Timothy Pickering (17 Jul 1745–29 Jan 1829) (see above)

John Galbraith (2 Aug 1794–15 Jun 1860) (also spelled Galbreath), founding editor-publisher Palladium and Republican Star 1818–20 (first newspaper in Butler County, Pennsylvania); member of the Pennsylvania legislature 1829–32; congressman for Pennsylvania 1833–37, 1839–41; district judge in Pennsylvania 1851–60; at the Universalist General Convention of 1859 he made a motion to allow women to be ordained (it did not pass)

Rev. Charles Hudson (14 Nov 1795–4 May 1881), soldier in the War of 1812; member of the Massachusetts legislature 1828–39; member of the governor's council 1838–41; Massachusetts state board of education 1837–45; congressman for Massachusetts 1841–49

Horace Greeley (3 Feb 1811–29 Nov 1872), newspaper publisher; supporter of women's equality, abolition of slavery and other progressive causes; founding owner-editor New-Yorker 1834–72 (became NY Weekly Tribune 1840); congressman for New York 1848–49

Israel Washburn, Jr. (6 Jun 1813–12 May 1883), congressman for Maine 1851–61; instrumental in founding the Republican Party and credited with choosing the party name 1854 (formed at a meeting in Jackson, Michigan, the Republican party was, in the beginning, a left-wing, anti-slavery party); trustee of Tufts College 1852–83; trustee of the Universalist Publishing House 1860–63; Governor of Maine 1861–63; one of the seven Washburn brothers

Elihu Benjamin Washburne (23 Sep 1816–23 Oct 1887), known as 'Father of the House' during his time as a congressman for Illinois 1852–69; US secretary of state under Ulysses S. Grant 1869 (2 weeks); Ambassador to France 1869–77; one of the seven Washburn brothers but always spelled his name in an E

Cadwallader C. Washburn (22 Apr 1818–15 May 1882), congressman for Wisconsin 1855–61, 1867–71; Major General in the Civil War; founding president of Gold Medal Flour 1866 (Minneapolis, now part of General Mills); adopted a new process that revolutionized the flour industry 1878; Governor of Wisconsin 1872–74; the town of Washburn, Wisconsin, was named in his honor 1883; one of the seven Washburn brothers

Portus Baxter (4 Dec 1806–4 Mar 1868), congressman for Vermont 1861–67; as a Civil War nurse at Battle of Fredericksburg 1864 became known as 'the Soldier's Friend'; Marine Hospital at Burlington, Vermont, renamed Baxter General Hospital in his honor 1864

Sidney Perham (27 Mar 1819–10 Apr 1907), member of the Maine legislature 1854–55; congressman for Maine 1863–69; board president of the Westbrook Seminary 1865–80; Governor of Maine 1871–74; founder and president of the Aine Industrial School for Girls, Hallowell, Maine, 1872–99 (27 years); trustee for 27 years and president 1866, 1870, 1875, of the Universalist Church of America

Hosea Washington Parker (30 May 1833–21 Aug 1922), member of the New Hampshire legislature 1859–60; congressman for New Hampshire 1871–75; trustee of Tufts College 1883–1913; president of the Universalist Church of America 1887–91

Samuel Freeman Hersey (12 Apr 1812–3 Feb 1875), philanthropist; member of the Maine legislature 1842, 1857, 1865, 1867, 1869; congressman for Maine 1873–75

Latimer Whipple Ballou I (1 Mar 1812–9 May 1900), co-founder of the Cambridge Press 1835–42; president of Woonsocket Hospital; congressman for Rhode Island 1875–81

William Smith King (16 Dec 1828–24 Feb 1900), newspaper editor; postmaster of the US House of Representatives 1861–65, 1867–73; congressman for Minnesota 1875–77

Horatio Bisbee, Jr. (1 May 1839–27 Mar 1916), enlisted as Private in Civil War, promoted to Colonel of the 9th Maine Infantry 1861–63; US Attorney for the Northern District of Florida 1869–73; congressman for Florida 1877–79, 1882–85

William Drew Washburn, Sr. (14 Jan 1831–29 Jul 1912) (see above)

Henry Lee Morey (8 Apr 1841–29 Dec 1902), enlisted as Private in Civil War, promoted to Captain; prosecuting attorney of Butler County, Ohio, 1873–81; congressman for Ohio 1881–84, 1889–91

Rev. Luther Franklin McKinney (25 Apr 1841–30 Jul 1922), Cavalry Sergeant in Civil War 1861–63; congressman for New Hampshire 1887–89, 1891–93; Ambassador to Colombia 1893–96; member of the Maine legislature 1907; master of the New Hampshire State International Order of Odd Fellows

Willfred Weymouth Lufkin (10 Mar 1879–28 Mar 1934), congressman for Massachusetts 1917–21

Allen Francis Moore (30 Sep 1869–15 Aug 1945), mayor of Monticello, Illinois, 1901–03; congressman for Illinois 1921–25

Frank Herbert Foss (20 Sep 1865–15 Feb 1947) (no relation), city council 1906–12 and mayor of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, 1917–20; congressman for Massachusetts 1925–35

Henry Leland Bowles (6 Jan 1866–17 May 1932), member of the governor's council of Massachusetts 1913, 1918, 1919; congressman for Massachusetts 1925–29

Jesse Paine Wolcott (3 Mar 1893–28 Jan 1969), Infantry Second Lieutenant in World War One 1917–19; prosecuting attorney in St Clair County, Michigan, 1927–30; congressman for Michigan 1931–57

Simon Moulton Hamlin (10 Aug 1866–27 Jul 1939), mayor of South Portland, Maine, 1933–34; congressman for Maine 1935–37


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