Governor Israel Washburn Jr.
As found in REPRESENTATIVE MEN OF MAINE
A Collection of Biographical Sketches of all the Governors since the formation of the State.
Prepaired under the direction of Henry Chase
Portland, ME.
The Lakeside Press, Publisher
1893

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ISRAEL WASHBURN, JR., was one of the famous Washburn family of Livermore, wherehe was born, June 6. 1813. He is seventh in descent from John Washburn, the common ancestor of the Washburn family in America. John was a native of Evesham, Worcestershire, England, and from which he emigrated to America in 1631. He settled in Duxbury, Mass., removing to Bridgewater, Mass., about 1665. Israel Washburn, Sr., was born in Raynham, Mass., November 18, 1784. and removed to Maine in 1806, settling at White's Landing, now Richmond. Here he was engaged in merchandising and ship-building until 1809, when he removed to Livermore, where he resided until his death, September 1, 1876. The Washburn homestead has become widely known as the Norlands. It was here he raised his family of seven sons, all of whom became, in after years, very prominent in business, political, and official life, most of them having attained to great distinction. The mother of these boys was a daughter of Samuel Benjamin, formerly of Watertown, Mass., and her mother was Tabitha Livermore, a relative of Elijah Livermore, the founder of the town.

The education of Israel, Jr., was obtained in the district school and under private instruction. Though not a college graduate, he became a tine classical scholar, and from his youth was a most diligent student of English literature of the higher order. He studied law three years, and was admitted to the Bar in 1834, locating the same year at Orono, Me., where he soon gained a large and lucrative practice. In 1842 he was in the State Legislature, and in 1830 he was elected to the Thirty-second Congress, and re-elected to the Thirty-third, Thirtyfourth, Thirty-fifth, and Thirty-sixth Congresses. He received his first nomination from the Whig party in 1848, but the district being strongly Democratic he failed of an election that year. In 1850, owing to a division in the Democratic ranks, he was elected by about 1,500 majority, and at each succeeding election at which he was a candidate by increased majorities. In Congress, during his terms of service, he was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, the Committee on Elections, Pacific Railroad, and served on others of minor importance.

It was during his congressional career that the slavery question assumed its most threatening attitude. Mr. Washburn was of strong anti-slavery tendencies, and was especially opposed to the further extension of slavery, deeming it an evil that should be confinedto its then present limits. The discussions on that topic were most acrimonious, both in and out of Congress, and it was the rock on which many party ties were broken. With Mr. Washburn's well-settled convictions, at is not difficult to imagine what position he took in those discussions.

On May 24, 1852, he delivered a strong speech in the House, in which he undertook to show that the South had for years been becoming more and more aggressive in its demands for legislation in the interests of human slavery, and that the North had gradually acquiesced in these demands until the South had obtained about all it wanted up to that time. Referring to the threats of disunion, which were so promiscuously thrown about whenever a vote was lost, he appealed to the southern men to abandon such threats and to stand together for the union of all the States, for in that course only could the highest destiny of the country be achieved.

The leadership of those in Congress opposed to the further extension of slavery easily rested with Mr. Washburn. He was always foremost in those discussions The Kansas-Nebraska bill was, the paramount question before the country and before Congress. He was, as usual, the leader of the opposition to this bill. It had long been discussed, and was finally passed near midnight of May 22, amid many threats and great confusion. The next day, by invitation, about thirty members met Mr. Washburn and the situation was discussed. He urged the formation of a new party to be composed of those opposed to the extension of slavery. This was agreed to by all the gentlemen present, with one exception. A name appropriate for such a party was talked over, and Mr. Washburn thought that Republican was the most suggestive and appropriate one that could be adopted. The idea was accepted by those present with great enthusiasm.

Mr. Washburn soon returned to his home in Maine, and in a public speech at Bangor, June 2, 1854, he denounced the slave power and urged all opposed to it to unite in one organization, saying men who think alike must act together. He added that the new organization should take the name of Republican, and that their aim and purpose should be "the welfare of the Union and the stainless honor of the American name." He made other speeches and met with great enthusiasm everywhere.

In 1860 he was nominated by the Republicans as their candidate for Governor, and elected by about 17,000 majority over Ephraim K. Smart, the Democratic candidate. He entered the office of chief magistrate of Maine amid the mutterings of civil war. The first gun was fired on Fort Sumter April 12, 1861, and on the 14th he issued a proclamation, convening the Legislature on the 22d of that month. He addressed that body in convention and advocated active measures for the suppression of the rebellion. When Maine, in common with the other Northern States, was called upon for men to go to the front, she was prompt in her responses, and her loyal Governor was untiring in his devotion to the soldiers who were forming and marching to the seat of war, and in his efforts to uphold the hands of the President in his great work of maintaining the supremacy of the Union.

Having served two terms, he declined to be re-nominated for the third term. His administration of the State's affairs during the critical period had been most acceptable and successful, and he sought to take a little rest from the cares and responsibilities of official life. Appreciating his services in the past, President Lincoln invited him to accept the Collectorship of the Port of Portland, and in November, 1863, he entered upon the duties of that office, which he continued to discharge with signal ability until May, 1877, when he voluntarily retired from public office. He spent the remainder of his days in literary pursuits, which he much enjoyed. Among his works may be mentioned papers on Charles Lamb, Walter Savage Landor, Gamaliel Bailey, Modern Civilization, Secular and Compulsory Education, and numerous lectures, addresses, etc. He died in Portland, May 12, 1883. His remains repose in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor, near those of the venerable Hannibal Hamlin. He was a Universalist and very prominent in church affairs.

Mr. Washburn married Mary M. Webster, of Orono, October 24, l841, by whom he had four children. She died in 1873, and in 1876 he married Robina Napier Brown, daughter of Benjamin F. Brown of Bangor, Me.



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