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William Alfred Buckingham

William Alfred Buckingham
41st Governor of Connecticut
In office
May 5, 1858 – May 2, 1866
Lieutenant Julius Catlin
Benjamin Douglas
Roger Averill
Preceded by Alexander H. Holley
Succeeded by Joseph R. Hawley
United States Senator
from Connecticut
In office
March 4, 1869 – February 5, 1875
Preceded by James Dixon
Succeeded by William W. Eaton
Personal details
Born May 28, 1804
Lebanon, Connecticut
Died February 5, 1875(1875-02-05) (aged 70)
Norwich, Connecticut
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Eliza Ripley Buckingham
Profession manufacturer, politician

William Alfred Buckingham (May 28, 1804 – February 5, 1875) was a Republican United States Senator from Connecticut.


  • Biography 1
  • Career 2
  • Death and legacy 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Born in Lebanon, Connecticut, Son of Samuel Buckingham (1770-1850) and Joanna (Matson) Buckingham (1777-1846), Buckingham attended the common schools and Bacon Academy in Colchester, Connecticut but never attended college. He was married on September 30, 1830, to Eliza Ripley,[1] daughter of Dwight and Eliza (Coit) Ripley of Norwich. The couple had two children. William Ripley Buckingham was born October 27, 1836, and died in early childhood on December 12, 1838. Eliza Coit Buckingham was born December 7, 1838, and married William A. Aiken on August 28, 1862.[2]


Buckingham entered into a career in the mercantile industry, and in 1848 helped to organize the Hayward Rubber Company, a business that developed into a successful enterprise.[3]

Buckingham served as the mayor of Norwich, Connecticut from 1849 to 1850, and again form 1856 to 1857. He also served as Norwich's town treasurer and a member of the city council.

Winning the 1858 Republican gubernatorial nomination, Buckingham was elected and served as the 41st Governor of Connecticut. He was reelected to the governorship the next seven years, serving from May 5, 1858 until May 2, 1866. During his tenure, he dealt successfully with the effects of an economic panic that occurred in the state and with the outbreak of the Civil war. Buckingham arranged for troops, with 54 companies enlisting instead of 10. Before the General Assembly appropriated $2 million for military expenses, Buckingham had begun borrowing money in his own name to finance Connecticut's war efforts.[4]

The outbreak of the Civil War was the major reason for Buckingham’s long tenure as Connecticut’s governor. A strong supporter of Abraham Lincoln, he hosted Lincoln when Lincoln campaigned in Connecticut, and a personal friendship formed between them. When the President called on the Northern governors to assist him in prosecuting the war, Buckingham worked seven days a week, twelve hours a day. The state’s major correspondent with the Federal government, he read and answered letters from troops in the field and visited troops at war as well as at home. Concerned for the welfare of Connecticut troops, he oversaw much of the procurement of men and materials for the war, and he is quoted as saying to an official in Washington: “Don’t let any Connecticut man suffer for want of anything that can be done for him. If it costs money, draw on me for it.” It is estimated that Connecticut sent 54,882 soldiers to fight in the Civil War.(3) In 1862, the United States Congress passed an act allowing for the enlistment of colored soldiers, and in November 1863, Buckingham persuaded the Connecticut General Assembly to authorize a state regiment of black soldiers, the first of which was to be the Twenty-Ninth. Buckingham is known as a “War Governor” for his work.[5]

Buckingham declined renomination in 1866, and after leaving office, was elected to the U.S. Senate on March 4, 1869, and served until his death on February 5, 1875.[6] While in the Senate, Buckingham served as chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Engrossed Bills, the U.S. Senate Committee on Investigation and Retrenchment, and the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.[7]

Death and legacy

Buckingham died in Norwich on February 5, 1875 (age 70 years, 253 days). He is interred at Yantic Cemetery, Norwich, Connecticut.[8]

The ship USS Governor Buckingham (1863) is named after him. Buckingham was a benefactor of Yale College and served as president of the Board of Trustees of Norwich Free Academy and as president of the Connecticut State Temperance Union. His house in Norwich is owned by the city and is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. A street and school are named in his honor in Norwich, and a statue of him is inside the State Capitol Building in Hartford.[9]

Buckingham's house in Norwich is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


  1. ^ "William Alfred Buckingham". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  2. ^ "William Alfred Buckingham". Connecticut State Library. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "William Alfred Buckingham". National Governors Association. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Alfred Buckingham". National Governors Association. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "William Alfred Buckingham". Connecticut State Library. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "William Alfred Buckingham". Govtrack US Congress. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "William Alfred Buckingham". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "William Alfred Buckingham". Find A Grave. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  9. ^ "William Alfred Buckingham". Connecticut State Library. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 

External links

  • William Alfred Buckingham at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • The Political Graveyard
  • National Governors Association
  • Govtrack US Congress
  • Find A Grave
  • Connecticut State Library
  • American National Biography
  • Dictionary of American Biography
  • Buckingham, Samuel G. The Life of William A. Buckingham. Springfield: W.F. Adams Co., 1894
  • U.S. Congress. Memorial Addresses. 43rd Cong., 2nd sess. from 1874 to 1875. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1875.

Political offices
Preceded by
Alexander H. Holley
Governor of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Joseph R. Hawley
United States Senate
Preceded by
James Dixon
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Connecticut
Served alongside: Orris S. Ferry
Succeeded by
William W. Eaton
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