The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
ĽName: William Pitt Fessenden

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William Pitt Fessenden was born in Boscawen, New Hampshire. He graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine in 1823. He studied law for four years and was admitted to the Maine bar in 1827. He moved to Portland, Maine, in 1829.

He served several terms as a state legislator and a Congressman, representing the Whig party in a Democratic State. He became a Senator in 1854 and served until 1864 when President Abraham Lincoln asked him to succeed Salmon P. Chase as Secretary of the Treasury. In March 1865, a month before Lincoln’s assassination, he resigned and was succeeded by Hugh McCulloch.

Fessenden returned to the Senate, serving from 1865 to 1869, and voted against the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. As a conservative Republican, he strongly disagreed with many of the economic and political policies of Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio who, as acting Vice President, would have become President if Johnson had been removed from office; moreover, Fessenden had been a political rival of Wade’s for the position as President pro tem of the Senate, that Wade acquired. Therefore, he probably voted against impeaching Andrew Johnson both for reasons of principle and personal dislike of his potential successor. He died the next year in Portland, Maine.

John Adler, HarpWeek Publisher

Source:  Century Cyclopedia of Names


William Pitt Fessenden
(16 October 1806 – 8 September 1869)
Source:  History of Congress, 1867-69, Vol. I

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