William B. Washburn

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William Barrett Washburn
William B. Washburn - Brady-Handy.jpg
28th Governor of Massachusetts
In office
January 4, 1872 – April 29, 1874
Lieutenant Joseph Tucker
Thomas Talbot
Preceded by William Claflin
Succeeded by Thomas Talbot
as Acting Governor
William Gaston
Member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1863 – December 5, 1871
Preceded by Amasa Walker
Succeeded by Alvah Crocker
United States Senator
from Massachusetts
In office
April 17, 1874 – March 4, 1875
Preceded by Charles Sumner
Succeeded by Henry L. Dawes
Personal details
Born (1820-01-31)January 31, 1820
Winchendon, Massachusetts
Died October 5, 1887(1887-10-05) (aged 67)
Springfield, Massachusetts
Political party Republican
Alma mater Yale College

William Barrett Washburn (January 31, 1820 – October 5, 1887) was an American politician from Massachusetts who served in the United States House of Representatives and as the 28th Governor of Massachusetts.

Early life[edit]

William Barrett Washburn was born on January 31, 1820 in Winchendon, Massachusetts, to Asa and Phoebe (Whitney) Washburn. His father was a hat maker from a family with deep colonial roots; Emory Washburn, who was Governor of Massachusetts in 1854, was a distant cousin. Asa Washburn died in 1823.

Washburn was educated in the academies at Hancock and Westminster, and then attended Yale College, graduating in 1844. He was a member of the Skull and Bones Society.[1] He was employed as a store clerk from 1844 to 1847 in the business of his uncle in Orange. He established a chair factory in Erving, operating it from 1847 to 1857 and parlaying a $10,000 investment into a business whose annual production exceeded $150,000.

Political career[edit]

Washburn became a member of the Massachusetts Senate in 1850 and was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1853 to 1855.

He moved to Greenfield in 1858 and engaged in banking. He was elected as a Republican to the Thirty-eighth and to the four succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1863 to December 5, 1871. He served as chairman of the Committee on Claims during the Forty-first Congress.

In 1871 he was elected Governor of Massachusetts and served in that post until 1874. He was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Charles Sumner and served from April 17, 1874 to March 4, 1875. He was not a candidate for reelection.

Other activities[edit]

He was president of the Greenfield National Bank; he was a trustee of Yale, the Massachusetts Agricultural College, and Smith College, of which he was also a benefactor, and a member of the board of overseers of Amherst College from 1864 to 1877. Harvard University conferred the degree of EL. D. upon him in 1872. He served on the board of directors of the Connecticut River Railroad.

He was a member of the American board of the American Home Missionary Society, and the American Missionary Association Residuary legatees, leaving each society about $50,000 in his will. He was a benefactor of the Greenfield Public Library.

He died in Springfield, Massachusetts, on October 5, 1887 while attending a session of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), of which he was also a member.


  1. ^ Millegan, Kris (2003). "The Skeleton Crew". Fleshing Out Skull and Bones: Investigations into America's Most Powerful Secret Society. Walterville, OR: Trine Day. pp. 597–690. ISBN 0-9720207-2-1.  "This list is compiled from material from the Order of Skull and Bones membership books at Sterling Library, Yale University and other public records. The latest books available are the 1971 Living members and the 1973 Deceased Members books. The last year the members were published in the Yale Banner is 1969."

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Amasa Walker
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 9th congressional district

March 4, 1863 – December 5, 1871
Succeeded by
Alvah Crocker
Political offices
Preceded by
William Claflin
Governor of Massachusetts
January 4, 1872 – April 29, 1874
Succeeded by
Thomas Talbot
Acting Governor
United States Senate
Preceded by
Charles Sumner
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Massachusetts
April 17, 1874 – March 4, 1875
Served alongside: George S. Boutwell
Succeeded by
Henry L. Dawes