PALMER, Thomas Witherell, (1830 - 1913)

Senate Years of Service: 1883-1889
Party: Republican

Detroit Public Library

PALMER, Thomas Witherell, Senator from Michigan; born in Detroit, Mich., January 25, 1830; attended the public schools, Thompson’s Academy in Palmer (now St. Clair), Mich., and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; traveled to Spain and South America; engaged in lumbering and agricultural pursuits; served on the Board of Estimates of Detroit in 1873; member, State senate 1879-1880; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1883, to March 3, 1889; was not a candidate for reelection; chairman, Committee on Fisheries (Forty-ninth Congress), Committee on Agriculture and Forestry (Fiftieth Congress); appointed United States Minister to Spain in 1889 by President Benjamin Harrison and served for two years; president of the National Commission of the World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago 1890-1893; retired to his Wayne County farm near Detroit, Mich.; one of the founders of the Detroit Museum of Art; died in Detroit, Mich., June 1, 1913; interment in Elmwood Cemetery.


Dictionary of American Biography; Ziewacz, Lawrence E. “Thomas W. Palmer: A Michigan Senator’s ‘Masterly Argument’ for Women’s Suffrage.” Michigan Historical Review 26 (Spring 2000): 31-43; Ziewacz, Lawrence E. “The Eighty-First Ballot: The Senatorial Struggle of 1883.” Michigan History 56 (Fall 1972): 216-32.