Timothy O. Howe

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The Honorable
Timothy O. Howe
30th United States Postmaster General
In office
December 20, 1881 – March 25, 1883
PresidentChester A. Arthur
Preceded byThomas Lemuel James
Succeeded byWalter Q. Gresham
United States Senator
from Wisconsin
In office
March 4, 1861 – March 3, 1879
Preceded byCharles Durkee
Succeeded byMatthew H. Carpenter
Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court
In office
January 1, 1851 – June 1, 1853
Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge for the 4th Circuit
In office
January 1, 1851 – 1855
Preceded byAlexander W. Stow
Succeeded byWilliam R. Gorsline
Personal details
Timothy Otis Howe

(1816-02-24)February 24, 1816
Livermore, Maine, U.S.
DiedMarch 25, 1883(1883-03-25) (aged 67)
Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S.
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Political party
  • Linda Ann Haines
  • (died 1881)
  • Mary (Totten)
  • (b. 1844; died 1913)
  • Frank Howard Howe
  • (b. 1850; died 1897)
EducationMaine Wesleyan Seminary

Timothy Otis Howe (February 24, 1816 – March 25, 1883) was a member of the United States Senate for three terms, representing the state of Wisconsin from March 4, 1861, to March 3, 1879. He also served as U.S. Postmaster General under President Chester A. Arthur from 1881 until his death in 1883. Earlier in his career, he was a justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.[1]


Howe was born in Livermore, Maine (then, part of the commonwealth of Massachusetts), to Timothy Howe and Betsey Howard, attended Readfield Seminary now Kents Hill School, in Readfield, Maine, and studied law with local judges.[2] In 1839, Howe was admitted to the Maine Bar and began practicing law in Readfield. In 1845, he was elected to the Maine House of Representatives.[3] Shortly thereafter, Howe moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, and opened a law office. He was an ardent Whig and ran an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Congress in 1848.

Howe married Linda Ann Haines and together the couple had 2 children, Mary E. Howe and Frank K. Howe.

Howe was elected circuit judge in Wisconsin and served in that position from 1851 to 1855. As a circuit judge, he also served as a justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court until a separate Supreme Court was organized in 1853.

In 1857, Howe ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate.[4] In 1861, Howe ran again and won election to the Senate,[4] serving during the American Civil War and Reconstruction. During his time in the Senate, he was an abolitionist and supporter of the Fifteenth Amendment. Howe argued against the claims of contemporary Democrats that blacks were inherently racially inferior, and remarked that their claim that abolition would cause a war of racial extermination was "a libel upon humanity, black or white."[5] During this time he was considered one of the "Radical Republicans" due to his support for racial equality and his opposition to discrimination.[6]

1865 Congressional Hearings chaired by Senator Doolittle looked into Sioux Complaints from the Yankton and Dakota tribes.[7] The Senator found: "Many agents, teachers, and employees of the government, are inefficient, faithless, and even guilty of peculations are fraudulent practices upon the government and upon the Indians." Yankton Chief Medicine Cow testified that Government Agents were the cause of the Minnesota problems. What those agents did in Minnesota was a harbinger of the history coming for the other tribes of the plains.

While in the Senate, President Ulysses S. Grant offered Howe the position of Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. However, Howe declined the offer because he feared his successor to the Senate would be a Democrat. Howe lost his senate seat in 1879 to fellow Republican Matthew H. Carpenter. In 1881, he was appointed United States Postmaster General by President Chester A. Arthur, a position he held until his death in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on March 25, 1883.[4]

Electoral history[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives (1848)[edit]

Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District Election, 1848[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
General Election, November 7, 1848
Democratic James Duane Doty 5,746 50.34%
Whig Timothy O. Howe 3,338 29.24%
Free Soil Stoddard Judd 2,330 20.41%
Plurality 2,408 21.10%
Total votes 11,414 100.0%
Democratic win (new seat)

Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor (1849)[edit]

Wisconsin Lieutenant Gubernatorial Election, 1849[9]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
General Election, November 6, 1849
Democratic Samuel Beall 16,355 52.59% -5.11%
Whig Timothy O. Howe 10,757 34.59% -7.71%
Free Soil John Bannister 3,985 12.81%
Plurality 5,598 18.00% +2.60%
Total votes 31,097 100.0% -8.37%
Democratic hold

Sources consulted[edit]

  • United States Congress. "Timothy O. Howe (id: H000856)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.


  1. ^ www.wisconsinhistory.org/dictionary/index.asp?action=view&term_id=2270&search_term=howe
  2. ^ http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mecreadf/rdfldkhs.htm
  3. ^ politicalgraveyard.com/bio/howarth-howe.html
  4. ^ a b c "Post Master General Howe Dead". Greensboro North State. March 29, 1883. p. 2. Retrieved March 29, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  5. ^ Oakes, James (2013). Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865. W.W. Norton. p. 451.
  6. ^ War and Taxes By Steven A. Bank, Kirk J. Stark, Joseph J. Thorndike pg. 39
  7. ^ Speeches to the Special Joint Committee on the Condition Of the Indian Tribes, 1865, Senator James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin sub-committee chairman [1]
  8. ^ "Wisconsin U.S. House Election Results" (PDF). Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 5, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  9. ^ "Official Canvass". Wisconsin Democrat. December 15, 1849. p. 3. Retrieved December 19, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.

Further reading[edit]

  • William H. Russell, "Timothy O. Howe, Stalwart Republican," Wisconsin Magazine of History, vol. 35, no. 2 (Winter 1951), pp. 90–99. In JSTOR
Legal offices
Preceded by Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge for the 4th Circuit
1851 – 1855
Succeeded by
William R. Gorsline
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Wisconsin
1861 – 1879
Served alongside: James R. Doolittle (1861–1869)
Matthew H. Carpenter (1869–1875)
Angus Cameron (1875–1879)
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by United States Postmaster General
Served under: Chester A. Arthur

1881 – 1883
Succeeded by