Erastus Fairbanks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Erastus Fairbanks
Erastus Fairbanks.jpg
Erastus Fairbanks
21st Governor of Vermont
In office
October 1852 – October 1853
Lieutenant William C. Kittredge
Preceded by Charles K. Williams
Succeeded by John S. Robinson
26th Governor of Vermont
In office
October 12, 1860 – October 11, 1861
Lieutenant Levi Underwood
Preceded by Hiland Hall
Succeeded by Frederick Holbrook
Member of the Vermont House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born (1792-10-28)October 28, 1792
Brimfield, Massachusetts
Died November 20, 1864(1864-11-20) (aged 72)
St. Johnsbury, Vermont
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Lois Crossman
Children Horace Fairbanks, Franklin Fairbanks
Profession manufacturer / politician

Erastus Fairbanks (October 28, 1792 – November 20, 1864) was an American manufacturer, Whig politician, a founder of the Republican Party, and the 21st and 26th Governor of Vermont.


Fairbanks was born in Brimfield, Massachusetts to Phebe (Paddock) Fairbanks (1760-1853) and Joseph Fairbanks (1763–1846). Ephraim Paddock, the brother of Phebe Paddock, was his uncle.[1] He studied law but abandoned it for mercantile pursuits, and operated a store in Wheelock, Vermont. He married Lois Crossman (1792 - 1866) on May 30, 1815.[2] The couple had eight children.[3]


Marble bust of Fairbanks on display at the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Finally settling in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, in 1824, Fairbanks formed a partnership, E. & T. Fairbanks & Co., with his brother Thaddeus for the manufacture of scales, stoves and plows. Thaddeus Fairbanks later invented the first platform scale, which made it possible to calculate the weight of farm products and other goods shipped by wagon and railroad car; the device proved so successful that the renamed Fairbanks Scales company became the largest employer in the state.[citation needed]

The Fairbanks family was involved in numerous charitable and civic endeavors throughout St. Johnsbury and the surrounding towns, including the 1842 founding of St. Johnsbury Academy.[4]

Fairbanks was a member of the Vermont House of Representatives from 1836 to 1838. He was President of the Passumpsic Railroad, which completed a line from White River to St. Johnsbury in 1850. He was a Presidential Elector for Vermont in 1844 and 1848.

Fairbanks was elected the 21st Governor of Vermont in 1851 and served from 1852 to 1853. During this term, a law was passed forbidding the sale or traffic of intoxicating beverages. The law was not repealed until 1902.[3]

Fairbanks was one of the founders of the Republican Party, and a delegate from Vermont to the first Republican National Convention in 1856.[citation needed] He was 26th Governor of Vermont from 1860 to 1861. During his second term he rendered valuable aid in the equipment and dispatch of troops in the early days of the American Civil War.

Family life[edit]

With his brothers Thaddeus and Joseph P., he founded St. Johnsbury Academy. He was the father of Horace Fairbanks and Franklin Fairbanks.[2]


Fairbanks was a Congregationalist. He died in St. Johnsbury, Caledonia County, Vermont, on November 20, 1864 (age 72 years, 23 days). He is interred at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, St. Johnsbury, Vermont.


  1. ^ Childs, Hamilton (1887). Gazetteer of Caledonia and Essex Counties, Vt. 1764-1887. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Journal Company. p. 84. 
  2. ^ a b "Erastus Fairbanks". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Erastus Fairbanks". National Governors Association. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Our History". St. Johnsbury, VT: St. Johnsbury Academy. Retrieved April 5, 2018. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Charles K. Williams
Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
John S. Robinson
Preceded by
Hiland Hall
Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Frederick Holbrook