Cadwallader C. Washburn

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Cadwallader C. Washburn
Cadwallader Colden Washburn.jpg
11th Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 1, 1872 – January 5, 1874
Lieutenant Charles D. Parker
Preceded by Lucius Fairchild
Succeeded by William Robert Taylor
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1867 – March 3, 1871
Preceded by Walter D. McIndoe
Succeeded by Jeremiah McLain Rusk
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1855 – March 3, 1861
Preceded by Ben C. Eastman
Succeeded by Luther Hanchett
Personal details
Born Cadwallader Colden Washburn
(1818-04-22)April 22, 1818
Livermore, Maine, U.S.
Died May 15, 1882(1882-05-15) (aged 64)
Eureka Springs, Arkansas, U.S.
Resting place Oak Grove Cemetery
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jeanette Garr
Children Jeanette Garr Washburn
Frances Washburn
Profession Politician, Lawyer, Soldier
Religion Presbyterian
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Union
Service/branch United States Union Army
Years of service 1862 - 1865
Rank Union army maj gen rank insignia.jpg Major General
Commands Wisconsin 2nd Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry
Battles/wars American Civil War

Cadwallader Colden Washburn (April 22, 1818–May 15, 1882) was an American businessman, politician, and soldier noted for founding what would later become General Mills and working in government for Wisconsin. He was born in Livermore, Maine, one of seven brothers that included Israel Washburn, Jr., Elihu B. Washburne, William D. Washburn, and Charles Ames Washburn.

Education and early career[edit]

Washburn was born in Livermore, Maine, the son of Martha (née Benjamin) and Israel Washburn. Washburn attended school in Wiscasset, Maine, and later taught there in 1838–1839.[1] In 1839 he moved to Davenport, Iowa where he taught school, worked in a store, and worked as a surveyor. Inspired by his brother Elihu who set up a legal practice in nearby Galena, he studied law, In 1842 he was admitted to the Wisconsin bar and he moved to Mineral Point, Wisconsin where he began a legal practice.[2]

Business[edit]

Land speculation and banking[edit]

In 1844, Washburn formed a partnership with land agent, Cyrus Woodman. Together the two men developed a number of companies, such as the Wisconsin Mining Company. The most successful business venture undertaken by the men was land acquisition. In May 1855 they established Washburn's and Woodman's Mineral Point Bank. Washburn and Woodman dissolved their partnership amicably in 1855.

The Minneapolis Mill Company[edit]

In 1856, the Minneapolis Mill Company was chartered by the Minnesota territorial legislature. Among the incorporators were Robert Smith, an Illinois congressman who had acquired the rights to the water power at the west side of St. Anthony Falls, and Dorilus Morrison, a cousin of Washburn. The company struggled initially, and several of the early investors sold out. Washburn bought in and eventually became president. His brother William moved to Minneapolis about that time, and actively managed the company. The company built a dam, a canal and a complex set of water transfer tunnels which were then leased, along with land that the company owned at the foot of the falls, to a variety of mills — cotton mills, woolen mills, saw mills and grist/flour mills. Eventually the work and investment of the two brothers paid off well, and they used their new found capital to invest in mills themselves.[3]

Lumber[edit]

In 1853, Washburn built a mill at Waubeck on the Chippewa River.[4] In 1859 Washburn moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, and after his war time service, he engaged in a project to clear the Black River to make it easier to drive logs. In 1871 he formed the La Crosse Lumber Company, which eventually sawed 20,000,000 board feet of lumber annually. He also had the largest shingle mill in the upper Mississippi valley.[5] He also established mills in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[citation needed]

Flour[edit]

In 1866, he built his own Washburn "B" Mill, which was thought at the time to be too large to ever turn a profit. However, he succeeded and in 1874 built an even larger Washburn "A" Mill. The original "A" mill complex was destroyed, along with several nearby buildings, in a flour explosion in 1878, but was later rebuilt.[6] In 1877, Washburn teamed with John Crosby to form the Washburn-Crosby Company. At the same time, Washburn sent William Hood Dunwoody to England to open that market for spring wheat.[citation needed] Successful, Dunwoody became a silent partner and went on to become one of the wealthiest millers in the world. Dunwoody became a philanthropist endowing hospitals, educational facilities, and a charitable home which ultimately became Dunwoody Village. The corporation eventually became known as General Mills.[citation needed]

Politics and military career[edit]

Cadwallader C. Washburn - Brady-Handy.jpg

In 1854, Washburn ran for Congress as a Republican, later serving three terms as part of the 34th, 35th and 36th United States Congresses representing Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district, from March 4, 1855 to March 3, 1861. In his last term Washburn served as chairman of the Committee on Private Land Claims. He declined to run again in 1860.

The Washburn family had always been strongly opposed to slavery. Washburn moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1861 but returned to Washington, D.C. later that year as a delegate in the peace convention that was held in an attempt to prevent the American Civil War. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War, becoming colonel of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry, on February 6, 1862; brigadier general of Volunteers on July 16, 1862; and major general on November 29, 1862. Washburn had the honor of having his appointment document signed by President Abraham Lincoln. At one point Ulysses S. Grant called Washburn "one of the best administrative officers we have."[7] He commanded the cavalry of the XIII Corps in the opening stages of Ulysses S. Grant's Vicksburg Campaign.[8] Once siege operations had begun against the city of Vicksburg and Grant called for all available forces, Washburn led a detachment of the XVI Corps during the siege of Vicksburg. He commanded the 1st Division in the XIII Corps in Nathanial P. Banks' operations along the Texas Coast leading the expedition against Fort Esperanza in November 1863.

For the rest of the war he served in administrative capacities in Mississippi and Tennessee. While commanding Union forces in Memphis, he was the target of an unsuccessful raid led by Nathan B. Forrest to kidnap him and other Union generals.[9] He left the Union Army on May 25, 1865.

After the conclusion of the war, Washburn returned to his home in La Crosse, where he was elected again for two terms in the House of Representatives. This time representing Wisconsin's 6th congressional district at the 40th and 41st Congresses from March 4, 1867 to March 3, 1871, where he was chairman of the Committee on Expenditures on Public Buildings in the first term. He declined to run in 1870.

In 1871, he was urged to run for Governor of Wisconsin against James R. Doolittle. Washburn won the election and was inaugurated governor of Wisconsin on the first Monday in January, 1872 and served from 1872 to 1874. He ran unsuccessfully for reelection in 1873.[10]

A year later, he purchased the Edgewood Villa estate from Samuel Marshall, where Edgewood College sits today.[11]

Family life[edit]

Shortly after birth, Washburn was diagnosed with epilepsy. Cadwallader Colden Washburn married Jeanette Garr, daughter of Elizabeth Sinclair Garr and Andrew Sheffield Garr on January 1, 1849.[12] Both were 30 at the time. The couple brought their first daughter, Jeanette (Nettie) Garr Washburn, into the world in 1850. After giving birth to Nettie, Jeanette showed signs of mental illness. After the birth of their second daughter, Frances (Fanny), in 1852, Washburn made arrangements for his wife's care at the Bloomingdale Asylum. Later she was transferred to an institution in Brookline, Massachusetts, where she remained until her death at age 90 in 1909.[13]

Later life[edit]

Washburn donated the Edgewood Villa estate to the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters of Madison, Wisconsin in 1881.[14] The Edgewood Villa later became Edgewood College,[15] and Edgewood High School.[16] Nearly a year later, in 1882, he died in Eureka Springs, Arkansas while on a visit to the springs for his health. His body was interred in Oak Grove Cemetery[17] in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

After his death his estate had an estimated value of between two and three million dollars.[18] In his will, Cadwallader left money to his daughter as well as other members of his family. A large bequest was made to the city of La Crosse; land was bought and a building for the La Crosse Public Library was built.[19] However, the largest portion was set aside to pay for the care of his wife, Jeanette.[13]

Legacy[edit]

The city of Washburn in Bayfield County, Wisconsin was named after Cadwallader Washburn,[20] as was Washburn County in northern Wisconsin.[21] Washburn Observatory, at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, was also named for Washburn, who as governor, allocated the money for its construction.[22] Washburn High School in Minneapolis was also named after Cadwallader Washburn. He left money in his will that would start an orphanage for the children that lost parents in the mill explosion. This organization has evolved into what is known today as the Washburn Center for Children.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Attributions

Other references[edit]

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ben C. Eastman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district

March 4, 1855 – March 3, 1861
Succeeded by
Luther Hanchett
Preceded by
Walter D. McIndoe
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 6th congressional district

March 4, 1867 – March 3, 1871
Succeeded by
Jeremiah McLain Rusk
Political offices
Preceded by
Lucius Fairchild
Governor of Wisconsin
1872–1874
Succeeded by
William R. Taylor