|United States Senator|
from New Hampshire
June 17, 1802 – March 3, 1807
|Preceded by||James Sheafe|
|Succeeded by||Nahum Parker|
|7th Governor of New Hampshire|
June 5, 1812 – June 3, 1813
|Preceded by||John Langdon|
|Succeeded by||John T. Gilman|
June 6, 1816 – June 3, 1819
|Preceded by||John T. Gilman|
|Succeeded by||Samuel Bell|
|Member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives|
June 25, 1759|
Newburyport, Province of Massachusetts Bay, British America
December 22, 1850 (aged 91)|
Epping, New Hampshire, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Sarah Fowler Plumer (1762–1852)|
|Children||William Plumer, Jr.|
|Residence||Epping, New Hampshire|
|Alma mater||Newburyport South Writing School|
William Plumer (June 25, 1759 – December 22, 1850) was an American lawyer, Baptist lay preacher, and politician from Epping, New Hampshire. He is most notable for his service as a Federalist in the United States Senate (1802-1807), and Governor of New Hampshire as a Democratic-Republican (1812–1813, 1816–1819).
Plumer was born in Newburyport, Province of Massachusetts Bay on June 25, 1759, the son of farmer and merchant Samuel Plumer and Mary (Dole) Plumer. His family moved to Epping, New Hampshire in 1768, and he was raised at his father's farm on Epping's Red Oak Hill. Plumer attended the Red Oak Hill School until he was 17.
Frequent ill health left him unsuited for military service during the American Revolution or life as a farmer, and after a religious conversion experience in his late teens, Plumer was trained as a Baptist exhorter (a lay preacher). For several years he traveled throughout the state to deliver sermons to Baptist churches and revival meetings. He briefly considered a career as a doctor, and began to study medicine. Later deciding on a legal career, he studied law with attorneys Joshua Atherton of Amherst and John Prentice of Londonderry. While studying under Atherton, his fellow law clerks included William Coleman, who remained a lifelong friend. Plumer attained admission to the bar in 1787, and began to practice in Epping.
In addition to practicing law, Plumer was active in local politics and government. He held several town offices, including selectman. Plumer served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives from 1785 to 1786, in 1788, from 1790 to 1791, and from 1797 to 1800. In 1791 and 1797 he served as Speaker of the House. Plumer was a delegate to the state constitutional convention of 1791-1792.
Plumer was elected to the United States Senate as a federalist, filling the vacancy caused when James Sheafe resigned. He served from June 17, 1802 to March 3, 1807, and was not a candidate for reelection.
In 1803, Plumer was one of several New England Federalists who proposed secession from the United States due to lack of support for Federalists, rising influence of Jeffersonian Democrats and the diminished influence of the North due to the Louisiana Purchase. Recalling his involvement in the secession scheme in 1827, Plumer said, "This was, I think, the greatest political error of my life: & would, had it been reduced to practise [sic], instead of releiving [sic], destroyed New England....Fortunately for my own reputation the erroneous opinion I formed produced no bitter fruits to myself or my country."
New Hampshire Senate
Plumer served in the New Hampshire Senate in 1810 and 1811, and was chosen in both years to serve as the Senate's president.
By now a Democratic-Republican, in 1812, Plumer was the party's successful nominee for Governor of New Hampshire, and he served until 1813. He returned to office in 1816, and served until 1819.
Presidential elector, 1820
In the 1820 presidential election, Plumer was one of New Hampshire's electoral college members. He cast the only dissenting vote in the Electoral College against incumbent President James Monroe, voting instead for John Quincy Adams. While some accounts say that this was to ensure that George Washington remained the only American president unanimously chosen by the Electoral College, others assert that he was instead calling attention to his friend Adams as a potential future presidential candidate, or protesting against the "wasteful extravagance" of the Monroe Administration. Plumer also eschewed voting for Daniel D. Tompkins for Vice President as "grossly intemperate" and having "not that weight of character which his office requires," and also "because he grossly neglected his duty" in his "only" official role as president of the Senate by being "absent nearly three-fourths of the time." Plumer instead voted for Richard Rush.
Death and burial
Plumer died in Epping on December 22, 1850 and was buried at the Plumer Family Cemetery in Epping.
In 1788, Plumer married Sarah "Sally" Fowler of Newmarket, New Hampshire. They were the parents of six children -- William, Sally, Samuel, George Washington, John Jay, and Quintus. William Plumer Jr. was an author and attorney who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1819 to 1825.
- Lynn W. Turner. William Plumer of New Hampshire, 1759–1850. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1962, p. 150.
- "Daniel D. Tompkins, 6th Vice President (1817–1825)" United States Senate web site.
- American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to William Plumer.|
- Works by William Plumer at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about William Plumer at Internet Archive
- A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns, 1787–1825
- United States Congress. "William Plumer (id: P000393)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- William Plumer at Find a Grave
- William Plumer at National Governors Association
- Memoir of William Plumer, Senior, by Albert Harrison Hoyt. 1871.
| U.S. Senator (Class 3) from New Hampshire
Served alongside: Simeon Olcott, Nicholas Gilman
| Governor of New Hampshire
John Taylor Gilman
John Taylor Gilman
| Governor of New Hampshire
| Oldest living U.S. Senator
February 25, 1845 – December 22, 1850
| Most Senior Living U.S. Senator
(Sitting or Former)
August 12, 1849 – December 22, 1850
| Oldest living United States governor
April 7, 1844 – December 22, 1850
| Oldest United States governor ever
December 17, 1848 – April 19, 1860