Samuel Fessenden

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For his son, the American congressman, see Samuel C. Fessenden. For the American lawyer and politician, see Samuel Fessenden (lawyer).

Samuel Fessenden (16 July 1784 Fryeburg, Maine – 13 March 1869 near Portland, Maine) was an American abolitionist and Massachusetts state legislator. (At this time, Maine was a district of Massachusetts.)


Samuel received his early education at the Fryeburg Academy, and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1806. He studied law with Judge Dana, of Fryeburg, and Daniel Webster, and was admitted to the bar in 1809. He began his practice at New Gloucester, Maine. In 1815-16, he was a representative in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and in 1818-19 represented his district in the Massachusetts State Senate.

He was major-general of the 12th division of the Massachusetts (later Maine) militia, to which office he was elected on leaving the senate, and to which he gave much attention. He moved to Portland, Maine, in 1822, and about 1828 declined the presidency of Dartmouth.

He was an ardent Federalist, and one of the early members of the anti-slavery party in Maine. In 1847, he was a Liberty Party candidate for congressman and governor, and an early supporter of the United States Republican Party.

For forty years he stood at the head of the bar in Maine. He was an active philanthropist. He published two orations and a treatise on the institution, duties, and importance of juries. The degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by Bowdoin College in 1846.


Samuel was the father of Treasury Secretary William Pitt Fessenden, congressman Samuel C. Fessenden and congressman T. A. D. Fessenden. Samuel's father, the Rev. William Fessenden, graduated at Harvard in 1768, was the first minister of Fryeburg, and frequently a member of the Massachusetts state legislature. William also served as judge of probate.

Samuel's uncle Thomas Fessenden was the father of Thomas Green Fessenden, a noted author and editor. Two of Samuel's grandsons became generals in the Union Army during the American Civil WarFrancis Fessenden and James D. Fessenden.

Another grandson, Samuel Fessenden (6 January 1841 Portland, Maine - 1 September 1862 Centreville, Virginia), was mortally wounded at the Second Battle of Manassas. He graduated from Bowdoin in 1861. He began to study law, but soon entered the military service as 2d lieutenant in the 2d Maine battery, 30 November 1861. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant on 3 June 1862 and was aide to Gen. Zebulon B. Tower in July 1862.