FISHER, George Purnell (1817-1899)

FISHER, GEORGE PURNELL, a Representative from Delaware; born in Milford, Sussex County, Del., October 13, 1817; attended the public schools of Kent County and Mount St. Mary's College, Emmitsburg, Md.; was graduated from Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa., in 1838; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1841 and commenced practice in Dover, Del.; member of the State house of representatives in 1843 and 1844; secretary of state in 1846; confidential clerk to Secretary Clayton in the Department of State at Washington in 1849; appointed by President Taylor a commissioner to adjudicate claims against Brazil, and served from 1850 to 1852; attorney general of Delaware 1857-1860; elected as a Unionist to the Thirty-seventh Congress (March 4, 1861-March 3, 1863); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1862 to the Thirty-eighth Congress; appointed by President Lincoln on March 11, 1863, a judge of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, which position he resigned when appointed district attorney for the District of Columbia, serving until 1875; returned to Dover; appointed by President Harrison on May 31, 1889, First Auditor of the Treasury Department and served until March 23, 1893; died in Washington, D.C., February 10, 1899; interment in Oak Hill Cemetery; reinterment in the Methodist Cemetery, Dover, Del.

Historical Society of Delaware
Wilmington, DE
Papers: 1861-1897, 1 folder.
Personal and congressional correspondence, photographs, and portraits. Finding aid in repository.


Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Papers: 1772-1905, 200 items.
Correspondence, legal papers, commissions, biographical sketches, essays, speeches, and other material, relating to George P. Fisher's legal career and other topics. Letters to Fisher from John M. Clayton concern Delaware politics, Oregon boundary question, Mexican War, and opposition to Clayton as U.S. secretary of state. Other letters include information on the legal practice of Nicholas Ridgely of Delaware. Includes essay by Fisher on the trial of John H. Surratt. Correspondents include James Buchanan, Henry Clay, John J. Crittenden, Ann Ridgely Du Pont, Hannibal Hamlin, Edward Joy Morris, Frederick William Seward, Daniel Webster, and Thurlow Weed.


University of Delaware Library
Newark, DE
Papers: Biographical information in the Charles Lanman collection, 1787-1906.

  • Fisher, George Purnell. The olive branch. [Washington: L. Towers & Co., printers, 1862].
  • Lore, Charles B[rown]. The life and character of George P. Fisher. Wilmington: The Historical Society of Delaware, 1902.