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William Crowninshield Endicott

In office
March 5, 1885 – March 4, 1889
President Grover Cleveland
Preceded by Robert Todd Lincoln
Succeeded by Redfield Proctor

Born November 19, 1826(1826-11-19)
Salem, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died May 6, 1900 (aged 73)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Ellen Peabody
Alma mater Harvard University
Profession Lawyer

William Crowninshield Endicott (November 19, 1826 – May 6, 1900) was an American politician and Secretary of War in the Administration of President Grover Cleveland.

Life and work

William Crowninshield Endicott, son of William P. and Mary (Putnam) Endicott, was born in Salem, Massachusetts. He was graduated from Harvard University in 1847 and attended Harvard Law School in 1849-1850 in prior to admission to the Massachusetts bar in 1850. He married Ellen Peabody, daughter of George and Clarissa (Endicott) Peabody of Salem on December 13, 1859, in Salem, Massachusetts. Her grandfather was the distinguished Salem shipowner, Joseph Peabody, who made a fortune importing pepper from Sumatra and was one of the wealthiest men in the United States at the time of his death in 1844. They had two children.

Following an unsuccessful run for Congress in 1879, Endicott served on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court until 1882. After an unsuccessful gubernatorial race in 1884, he was appointed Secretary of War. He served in that capacity in the administration of Grover Cleveland between 1885 and 1889. Endicott oversaw many important changes in the organization of the United States Army, including the establishment of a system of examinations to determine the promotion of officers.

Endicott chaired the Endicott Board of Fortifications which would provide the models for the generation of American coastal defense fortifications constructed in the era of the Spanish-American War, the Endicott Period Fortifications.

William Crowninshield Endicott died in Boston, Massachusetts. He is buried with his wife in the Endicott Lot (1554) at Harmony Grove Cemetery in Salem, Massachusetts.


His daughter, Mary Crowninshield Endicott, married first the British statesman, Joseph Chamberlain, in 1888 and second the Anglican clergyman, William Hartley Carnegie, in 1916.

He was a direct descendant of the Massachusetts governor, John Endecott, and a first cousin three times removed of another Massachusetts governor, Endicott Peabody.


Walter Muir Whitehill, Captain Joseph Peabody: East India Merchant of Salem (1757-1844) (Salem, Massachusetts: Peabody Museum, 1962), 179.

Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Todd Lincoln
United States Secretary of War
Succeeded by
Redfield Proctor


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