William Windom: Wikis


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This page is about the former United States politician.

William Windom

In office
March 7, 1889 – January 29, 1891
President Benjamin Harrison
Preceded by Charles S. Fairchild
Succeeded by Charles W. Foster

In office
March 8, 1881 – November 13, 1881
President James Garfield
(March 8-Sept. 19)
Chester A. Arthur
(Sept. 19-Nov. 13)
Preceded by John Sherman
Succeeded by Charles J. Folger

In office
November 15, 1881 – March 3, 1883
Serving with Samuel J. R. McMillan
Preceded by Alonzo J. Edgerton
Succeeded by Dwight M. Sabin
In office
March 4, 1871 – March 7, 1881
Serving with Alexander Ramsey, Samuel J. R. McMillan
Preceded by Ozora P. Stearns
Succeeded by Alonzo J. Edgerton
In office
July 15, 1870 – January 22, 1871
Serving with Alexander Ramsey
Preceded by Daniel S. Norton
Succeeded by Ozora P. Stearns

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1859 – March 3, 1869
Preceded by James M. Cavanaugh
Succeeded by Morton S. Wilkinson

Born May 10, 1827(1827-05-10)
Belmont County, Ohio, U.S.
Died January 29, 1891 (aged 63)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Republican
Profession Politician
Religion Quaker

William Windom (May 10, 1827 – January 29, 1891) was an American politician. He served in the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate as a Republican from Minnesota in the 36th, 37th, 38th, 39th, 40th, 41st, 42nd, 43rd, 44th, 45th, 46th, and 47th congresses. He was born in Belmont County, Ohio. He moved to Minnesota Territory in 1855 and settled in the town of Winona, Minnesota, located on the banks of the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota.[1] Windom was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1859--only the second state election held in Minnesota since statehood on May 11, 1858.[2] The election of 1859 was a watershed election in which Minnesota moved from Democratic Party predominance to a period of Republican hegemony that would last for at least 50 years.[3]

Windom was re-elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1861.[4] Indeed William Windom served in the House for the entire time from March 4, 1859 to March 3, 1869, representing the state of Minnesota. He is also the great-grandfather of actor William Windom.

Upon the death of Republican Senator David Sheldon Norton on July 13, 1870, Republican Governor Alexander Ramsey appointed Congressman William Windom to the Senate on July 15, 1870 to fill the vacancy created by the death of Senator Norton.[5] When the Republican-controlled legislature of Minnesota met in January of 1871, they chose Republican Ozora P. Stearns for the partial Senate term which extended from January 22, 1871 until March 3, 1871. The legislature then chose Windon for the full senatorial term extending from 1871-1877.[6] Windom was re-elected to the Senate by the Minnesota legislature and continued to serve in the Senate until March 7, 1881 when he was appointed as United States Secretary of the Treasury by President James Garfield. In the United States Senate, Windom was recognised as a strong advocate of railroad regulation.[7] Indeed, as early as 1874, Windom prepared an analytical report which recommended a bureau of commerce which contained all the basic elements of what thirteen years later, in January of 1887 would become the Interstate Commerce Commission.[8]

In 1880, William Windom ran for the Republican nomination for the President.[9] The Republican National Convention met in Chicago, Illinois in June of 1880. There were 756 delegates attending the convention. A majority of 379 delegates were needed for nomination for president.[10] Wanting the nomination for a third term, former president Ulysses S. Grant was the leading contender for the 1880 Republican nomination. Pre-convention estimates were that the former president commanded about 360 delegates toward the nomination. Other leading contenders for the presidential nomination were Senator James Blaine of Maine who was estimated to have about 200 delegates for the nomination; and Senator John Sherman of Ohio who was estimated to have about 80 delegates in his pocket.[11] However, on the first ballot of the convention, Grant received 304 votes, and Blaine received 284 votes. Windom received the votes of 10 delegates of the convention. After 35 ballots, the convention was deadlocked and the convention began looking around for a "dark horse" candidate. This is the opportunity for which Windom had waited. However, rather than turning his way, the convention eventually gave the Republican nomination to James A. Garfield rather than shining on Windom's candidacy.[12]

On November 13, 1881, Windom resigned from the Senate to serve as President Garfield's Secretary of the Treasury.[13] After Garfield's assassination, Windom continued to serve as Secretary of the Treasury under President Chester Arthur until March 3, 1883 when he resigned to enter the race for Senate from the State of Minnesota.[14]

Windom appears on U.S. silver certificates

He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1882. He moved to New York City in 1883 and practiced law. He was appointed Secretary of Treasury again in the Cabinet of President Benjamin Harrison and served from March 1889 until his death in New York.

An engraved portrait of Windom appears on U.S. silver certificates in the $2.00 denomination. This design was used from 1891 to 1896. The revenue cutter, Windom, was named for him. The city of Windom in Cottonwood County in southwestern Minnesota bears his namesake.


  1. ^ Theodore Blegen, Minnesota: a History of the State (Univerity of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, 1963) p. 249.
  2. ^ Ibid., p. 235.
  3. ^ Ibid. , p. 233.
  4. ^ Ibid., p. 249.
  5. ^ Ibid. p. 290.
  6. ^ Ibid.
  7. ^ Ibid.
  8. ^ John A. Garraty, The New Commonwealth: 1877-1890 (Harper & Row Pub.: New York, 1968) p. 118.
  9. ^ Thomas C. Reeves, Gentleman Boss: The Life of Chester Alan Arthur (Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1975) p. 164.
  10. ^ Ibid. p. 168.
  11. ^ Ibid.
  12. ^ Allan Peskin, Garfield (Kent State University Press: Kent, Ohio, 1999) p. 477.
  13. ^ Ibid. pp. 541-542.
  14. ^ Thomas C. Reeves, Gentleman Boss: The Life of Chester Alan Arthur p. 254.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
James M. Cavanaugh
U.S. Representative from Minnesota's 1st congressional district
1859 – 1869
Succeeded by
Morton S. Wilkinson
United States Senate
Preceded by
Daniel S. Norton
United States Senator (Class 2) from Minnesota
1870 – 1871
Served alongside: Alexander Ramsey
Succeeded by
Ozora P. Stearns
Preceded by
Ozora P. Stearns
United States Senator (Class 2) from Minnesota
1871 – 1881
Served alongside: Alexander Ramsey, Samuel J. R. McMillan
Succeeded by
Alonzo J. Edgerton
Preceded by
Alonzo J. Edgerton
United States Senator (Class 2) from Minnesota
1881 – 1883
Served alongside: Samuel J. R. McMillan
Succeeded by
Dwight M. Sabin
Political offices
Preceded by
John Sherman
United States Secretary of the Treasury
Served under: James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur

Succeeded by
Charles J. Folger
Preceded by
Charles S. Fairchild
United States Secretary of the Treasury
Served under: Benjamin Harrison

Succeeded by
Charles W. Foster

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