CARPENTER, Matthew Hale (1824-1881)
Senate Years of Service: 1869-1875; 1879-1881

CARPENTER, MATTHEW HALE, a Senator from Wisconsin; born Decatur Merritt Hammond Carpenter in Moretown, Washington County, Vt., December 22, 1824; attended the common schools; entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1843 and remained two years; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1847 and practiced in Boston, Mass.; moved to Beloit, Wis., in 1848 and became known as Matthew Hale Carpenter; district attorney of Rock County 1850-1854; moved to Milwaukee in 1858; belonged to the Douglas wing of the Democratic Party until the commencement of the Civil War; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1869, to March 3, 1875; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1875; served as President pro tempore of the Senate during the Forty-third Congress; chairman, Committee on Enrolled Bills (Forty-second Congress), Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expense (Forty-second and Forty-third Congresses); resumed the practice of law in Washington and in Milwaukee; again elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1879, until his death in Washington, D.C., February 24, 1881; interment in Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee, Wis.

Loyola University
Chicago, IL
Papers: 36 items in Halstead collection, 1850-1890, including correspondence addressed to Carpenter relating to legal and political matters, including his defense of members of the U.S. War Department before the U.S. Supreme Court.

State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Archives Division
Madison, WI
Papers: 1844-1916, 1961. 2 microfilm reels. Correspondence, speeches, legal and political papers, memorabilia from Washington, DC, letters of condolence, family papers, and correspondence (1844-1847) with Paul Dillingham of Vermont, Carpenter's benefactor while a student at West Point. Finding aid.
Additional Papers: Correspondence and references in James A. Briggs and Robert Mitchell family papers, 1853-1907; and Josiah A. Noonan papers, 1834-1880.

  • Deutsch, Herman J. "Carpenter and the Senatorial Election of 1875 in Wisconsin.'' Wisconsin Magazine of History 16 (September 1932): 26-46.
  • Flower, Frank Abial. Life of Matthew Hale Carpenter. Madison, WI: D. Atwood Co., 1883.
  • Thompson, Edwin Bruce. Matthew Hale Carpenter, Webster of the West. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1954.
  • U.S. Congress. Memorial Addresses on the Life and Character of Matthew H. Carpenter (a Senator from Wisconsin), Delivered in the Senate and House of Representatives. 47th Cong., 1st sess., 1881-1882. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1882.
  • U.S. Supreme Court. Proceedings of the Bench and Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States: In Memoriam, Matthew H. Carpenter. Washington: J.L. Pearson, Printer, 1881.