Timothy O. Howe

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Timothy Howe
Timothy O. Howe - Brady-Handy.jpg
30th United States Postmaster General
In office
December 20, 1881 – March 25, 1883
PresidentChester A. Arthur
Preceded byThomas L. 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
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.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Linda Haines
EducationMaine Wesleyan Seminary

Timothy Otis Howe (February 24, 1816 – March 25, 1883) was a member of the United States Senate, representing the state of Wisconsin from March 4, 1861 to March 3, 1879. He also served as U.S. Postmaster General from 1881 until his death in 1883.[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.

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 1877. 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]

Sources consulted[edit]

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


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
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas L. James
United States Postmaster General
Served under: Chester A. Arthur

Succeeded by
Walter Q. Gresham
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Charles Durkee
Senator from Wisconsin (Class 3)
with James R. Doolittle (1861–1869)
Matthew H. Carpenter (1869–1875)
Angus Cameron (1875–1879)
Succeeded by
Matthew H. Carpenter