George P. Fisher

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This article is about the lawyer and politician from mid nineteenth century Delaware. For others, see George Fisher (disambiguation).
George P. Fisher
Hon. George P. Fisher, Del - NARA - 526255.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's At-large district
In office
March 4, 1861 – March 4, 1863
Preceded by William G. Whiteley
Succeeded by William Temple
Personal details
Born (1817-10-13)October 13, 1817
Milford, Delaware
Died February 10, 1899(1899-02-10) (aged 81)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Whig
Residence Dover, Delaware
Alma mater Dickinson College
Profession lawyer

George Purnell Fisher (October 13, 1817 – February 10, 1899) was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party and later the Republican Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly, as Attorney General of Delaware, as Secretary of State of Delaware, as U. S. Representative from Delaware, and as a judge of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware.

Early life and family[edit]

Born in Milford, Delaware, Fisher attended the public schools of Kent County and Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He graduated from Dickinson College in 1838. He then read law, was admitted to the Delaware Bar in 1841, and commenced practice in Dover.

Professional and political career[edit]

Fisher served as a clerk in the Delaware State Senate in 1843 before he was elected to the Delaware House of Representatives in 1843 and 1844. In 1846 he was appointed the Secretary of State of Delaware, holding such office until 1847. In 1846, he also became an Aide-de-Camp to Major General Nathaniel Young, Commander of the Delaware Militia. In 1849 he was working in Washington with William Hunter, as a confidential clerk to Secretary John M. Clayton in the U.S. Department of State. At this time Fisher was appointed by President Zachary Taylor to be a commissioner to adjudicate claims against Brazil, performing this duty from 1850 to 1852, when he became the private secretary of President Millard Fillmore. From 1855 until 1860 he served as Delaware Attorney General.

With the coming of the Civil War Fisher was elected as a Unionist to the 37th Congress, serving from March 4, 1861 to March 3, 1863. The Unionists were Delaware's version of Republicans and Fisher ran for the 38th Congress as a Republican in 1862 and lost, thereafter briefly serving as a Colonel in the First Delaware Cavalry, in 1863.

Consequently Fisher was nominated by President Abraham Lincoln on March 10, 1863, to a new seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia created by 12 Stat. 762. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 11, 1863, and received his commission the same day. Fisher served in that capacity until his resignation on May 1, 1870 when appointed district attorney for the District of Columbia, serving until 1875.

Finally he returned to Dover and was appointed by President Benjamin Harrison on May 31, 1889 to be the First Auditor of the Treasury Department, in which capacity he served until March 23, 1893.

Death and legacy[edit]

He died in Washington, D.C. and was initially buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington. Later he was reburied in the Old Methodist or Whatcoat Cemetery at Dover, Delaware.


Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1. Members of the General Assembly took office the first Tuesday of January. State Senators have a four-year term and State Representatives have a two-year term. U.S. Representatives took office March 4 and also have a two-year term.

Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
State Senate Legislature Dover January 6, 1843 January 6, 1845
State Senate Legislature Dover January 6, 1845 January 5, 1847
Secretary of State Executive Dover 1846 1849 Delaware
Attorney General Executive Dover 1855 1860 Delaware
U.S. Representative Legislature Washington March 4, 1861 March 3, 1863
Supreme Court Judiciary Washington March 11, 1863 1870 District of Columbia
District Attorney Judiciary Washington 1870 1875 District of Columbia
Delaware General Assembly service
Dates Assembly Chamber Majority Governor Committees District
1843 62nd State Senate Whig William B. Cooper Sussex at-large
1845 63rd State Senate Whig Thomas Stockton
Joseph Maull
William Temple
Sussex at-large
United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1861-1862 37th U.S. House Republican Abraham Lincoln at-large
Election results
Year Office Subject Party votes % Opponent Party votes %
1860 U.S. Representative George P. Fisher Republican 7,732 48% Benjamin T. Biggs Democratic 7,485 47%
1862 U.S. Representative George P. Fisher Republican 8,014 50% William Temple Democratic 8,051 50%


  • Martin, Roger A.. (2003). Delawareans in Congress, the House of Representatives 1789-1900. ISBN 0-924117-26-5. 

External links[edit]

Places with more information[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
William G. Whiteley
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's at-large congressional district

1861 – 1863
Succeeded by
William Temple