WASHBURNE, Elihu Benjamin, (1816 - 1887)


"Eminent Upholders in Congress of the War for the Union" (detail), engraving, 1865, Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives

WASHBURNE, Elihu Benjamin, (brother of Israel Washburn, Jr., Cadwallader Colden Washburn, and William Drew Washburn), a Representative from Illinois; born in Livermore, Androscoggin County, Maine, September 23, 1816; attended the common schools; printer’s apprentice; assistant editor of the Kennebec Journal, Augusta; studied law at Kents’ Hill Seminary in 1836 and at Harvard Law School in 1839; was admitted to the bar in 1840; moved to Galena, Jo Daviess County, Ill., in 1840 and commenced the practice of law; delegate to the Whig National Conventions in 1844 and 1852; unsuccessful candidate for election in 1848 to the Thirty-first Congress; elected as a Whig to the Thirty-third Congress and reelected as a Republican to the eight succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1853, to March 6, 1869, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on Commerce (Thirty-fourth and Thirty-sixth through Fortieth Congresses), Committee on Appropriations (Fortieth Congress); appointed as Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President Grant, but resigned a few days afterward to accept a diplomatic mission to France; upon the declaration of the Franco-Prussian War he protected with the American flag the Paris legations of the various German states; remained in Paris during the siege and was the only foreign minister who continued at his post during the days of the Commune; protected not only Germans but all the foreigners left by their ministers; served as Minister until 1877, when he returned and settled in Chicago, Ill.; engaged in literary pursuits; died in Chicago, Ill., October 23, 1887; interment in Greenwood Cemetery, Galena, Ill.


Bibliography

Washburne, Mark. A Biography of Elihu Benjamin Washburne: Congressman, Secretary of State, Envoy Extraordinary. Three Volumes. Philadephia: Xlibris Corporation, 2002.