Library of Congress
FESSENDEN, William Pitt (1806-1869)
Senate Years of Service: 1854-1864; 1865-1869

FESSENDEN, WILLIAM PITT, (brother of Samuel Clement Fessenden and Thomas Amory Deblois Fessenden), a Representative and a Senator from Maine; born in Boscawen, Merrimack County, N.H., October 16, 1806; attended the common schools; graduated from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, in 1827; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1827 and practiced in Bridgeton, Bangor, and Portland, Maine; member, State house of representatives in 1832 and 1840; elected as a Whig to the Twenty-seventh Congress (March 4, 1841-March 3, 1843); declined to be a candidate for reelection in 1842; member, State house of representatives 1845-1846; unsuccessful Whig candidate for election to the Thirty-second Congress; member, State house of representatives 1853-1854; elected as a Whig to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy in the term beginning March 4, 1853, caused by the failure of the legislature to elect; reelected in 1859 as a Republican and served from February 10, 1854, to July 1, 1864, when he resigned to accept a Cabinet appointment; chairman, Committee on Finance (Thirty-seventh through Thirty-ninth Congresses); appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Abraham Lincoln and served from 1864-1865; member of the peace convention of 1861 held in Washington, D.C., in an effort to devise means to prevent the impending war; again elected to the United States Senate as a Republican and served from March 4, 1865, until his death in Portland, Maine, September 8, 1869; chairman, Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds (Fortieth Congress), Committee on Appropriations (Forty-first Congress), Committee on the Library (Forty-first Congress); originally interred in Western Cemetery in Portland, Maine; later reinterred in an unmarked grave in the Fessenden family plot in Evergreen Cemetery.

American Philosophical Society
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: Correspondence in Alexander D. Bache papers, 1835-1864.

Boston Public Library
Boston, MA
Papers: 2 letters.

Bowdoin College
Brunswick, ME
Papers: In Fessenden family papers, 1801-1908. 6 linear feet. Includes personal and congressional correspondence, photographs, portraits, and memorabilia of Fessenden, his sons, and other family members. Finding aid.

Brown University
Providence, RI
Papers: February 18, 1863 and September 22, 1869. 2 letters. To Fessenden.

Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH
Papers: A letter to Fessenden together with two draft articles in Thaddeus Stevens papers, 1819-1868.

Duke University
Special Collections Library
Durham, NC
Papers: 10 items concerning politics after the Civil War in United States Senators' papers, 1779-1946.

Hagley Museum and Library
Greenville, DE
Papers: In Samuel Francis du Pont papers, 1812-1865.

Harvard University
Houghton Library
Cambridge, MA
Papers: 10 letters to Fessenden in John Neal letters, 1841-1875.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Papers: 1832-1878. 1.5 linear feet. General, personal, and family correspondence, clippings, and printed material reflecting Maine and national politics, abolitionism, service on Senate Finance Committee, operations of the Treasury Department (1864-1865), financing of the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Available on 5 microfilm reels. Finding aid.
Papers: Correspondence in Timothy Davis scrapbook, 1856-1885. Maine Historical Society Portland, ME
Papers: Miscellaneous personal and political letters.

Massachusetts Historical Society
Boston, MA
Papers: 15 items (1834-1867) in various collections.

New York State Library
Manuscripts and Special Collections
Albany, NY
Papers: Correspondence in Edwin Denison Morgan papers, 1830-1872.

Pierpont Morgan Library
New York, NY
Papers: 1858-1862. 2 items.

Rosenbach Museum and Library
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: January 15, 1864. 1 8-page letter. To Francis Fessenden.

State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Archives Division
Madison, WI
Papers: 4 reels of microfilm of originals (1820-1869) in Bowdoin College. Permission to use microfilm must be obtained from Bowdoin College Library.

University of Iowa Libraries
Special Collections Department
Iowa City, IA
Papers: February 26 and April 18, 1860. 2 letters received.

University of Maine
Fogler Library Special Collections
Orono, ME
Papers: Correspondence in James Shepherd Pike papers, 1850-1880. Finding aid.

University of Michigan
William L. Clements Library
Ann Arbor, MI
Papers: 1854-1868. 211 items. Incoming correspondence, including many requests for jobs. Finding aid.

University of Rochester
Rush Rhees Library
Rochester, NY
Papers: 14 letters by and 12 to Fessenden (1856-1869) in various collections. Finding aid.

University of Virginia
Alderman Library
Charlottesville, VA
Papers: Correspondence in Richard Henry Dana, Sr. and Richard Henry Dana, Jr. papers, 1839-1881.

Washburn-Norlands Library
Livermore Falls, ME
Papers: Items in Israel Washburn papers, 1842-1882.

Western Reserve Historical Society
Cleveland, OH
Papers: 1837-1869. Ca. 1 foot. Chiefly letters received from friends and constituents concerning the antislavery and temperence movements; the formation of the Republican party in Maine, the Liberty and Free Soil parties, and the antislavery Democrats; and his role as chair of Senate Finance Committee. Finding aid.
Papers: In Jesse Baldwin papers, 1862-1861; Abraham Lincoln papers, 1841-1870; and Freeman Harlow Morse papers, 1861-1888.

  • Cook, Robert J. ?Stiffening Abe: William Pitt Fessenden and the Role of the Broker Politician in the Civil War Congress.? American Nineteenth Century History (London) 8 (June 2007: 145?67.
  • ___. Civil War Senator: William Pitt Fessenden and the Fight to Save the American Republic. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010.
  • Fessenden, Francis. Life and Public Services of William Pitt Fessenden. Edited by James D. Fessenden. 2 vols. 1907. Reprint. New York: Da Capo Press, 1970.
  • Jellison, Charles A. Fessenden of Maine, Civil War Senator. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1962.
  • Roske, Ralph J. "The Seven Martyrs?'' American Historical Review 64 (January 1959): 323-30.
  • U.S. Congress. Memorial Addresses on the Life and Character of William Pitt Fessenden (a Senator from Maine). 41st Cong., 2d sess., 1869-1870. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1870.