Peter G. Van Winkle

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Peter G. Van Winkle
Peter G. Van Winkle - Brady-Handy.jpg
United States Senator
from West Virginia
In office
August 4, 1863 – March 4, 1869
Preceded by office established
Succeeded by Arthur I. Boreman
Personal details
Born (1808-09-07)September 7, 1808
New York, New York
Died April 15, 1872(1872-04-15) (aged 63)
Parkersburg, West Virginia
Political party Unionist
Other political
Sketch of Van Winkle by Joseph Diss Debar
Former Home of Peter Van Winkle in Parkersburg, WV

Peter Godwin Van Winkle (September 7, 1808 – April 15, 1872) was a United States Senator from West Virginia.

Born in New York City, he completed preparatory studies, studied law, and was admitted to the bar, commencing practice in Parkersburg, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1835. He was president of the town board of trustees from 1844 to 1850 and was a member of the Virginia State constitutional convention in 1850. He was treasurer and later president of the Northwestern Virginia Railroad Co. in 1852 and a member of the Wheeling reorganization convention in 1861. He was a delegate to the State convention which framed the constitution of West Virginia and a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1863. Upon the admission of West Virginia as a State into the Union, he was elected as a Unionist to the U.S. Senate and served from August 4, 1863, to March 4, 1869. While in the Senate, he was chairman of the Committee on Pensions (Fortieth Congress).

During President Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial, Van Winkle broke party ranks, along with six other Republican senators and voted for acquittal. These seven Republican senators were disturbed by how the proceedings had been manipulated in order to give a one-sided presentation of the evidence. Senators William Pitt Fessenden, Joseph S. Fowler, James W. Grimes, John B. Henderson, Lyman Trumbull, Peter G. Van Winkle,[1] and Edmund G. Ross of Kansas, who provided the decisive vote,[2] defied their party and public opinion and voted against impeachment. After the trial, Ben Butler conducted hearings on the widespread reports that Republican senators had been bribed to vote for Johnson's acquittal. In Butler's hearings, and in subsequent inquiries, there was increasing evidence that some acquittal votes were acquired by promises of patronage jobs and cash cards.[3]

Van Winkle was a delegate to the Southern Loyalist Convention at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1866; he resided in Parkersburg, where he died in 1872. Interment was in Riverview Cemetery.

Marshall Van Winkle, Peter Van Winkle's grandnephew, was a U.S. Representative from New Jersey in the Fifty-ninth Congress.

His former home at Parkersburg is located in the Julia-Ann Square Historic District.,[4] it's known as the Peter G. Van Winkle House.[5]


  1. ^ "Andrew Johnson Trial: The Consciences of Seven Republicans Save Johnson".
  2. ^ "The Trial of Andrew Johnson, 1868".
  3. ^ David O. Stewart, Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy (2009), pp. 240-249, 284-299.
  4. ^ James E. Harding (November 1976). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Julia-Ann Square Historic District" (PDF). State of West Virginia, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  5. ^ Eliza Smith, Christina Mann (December 1981). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Peter G. Van Winkle House" (PDF). State of West Virginia, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
United States Senate
Preceded by
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from West Virginia
Served alongside: Waitman T. Willey
Succeeded by
Arthur I. Boreman