James E. English

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
James E. English
United States Senator
from Connecticut
In office
November 27, 1875 – May 17, 1876
Preceded byOrris S. Ferry
Succeeded byWilliam H. Barnum
45th Governor of Connecticut
In office
May 4, 1870 – May 16, 1871
LieutenantJulius Hotchkiss
Preceded byMarshall Jewell
Succeeded byMarshall Jewell
43rd Governor of Connecticut
In office
May 1, 1867 – May 5, 1869
LieutenantEphraim H. Hyde
Preceded byJoseph R. Hawley
Succeeded byMarshall Jewell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1861 – March 3, 1865
Preceded byJohn Woodruff
Succeeded bySamuel L. Warner
Member of the Connecticut Senate
In office
Member of the Connecticut House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
James Edward English

March 13, 1812
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
DiedMarch 2, 1890(1890-03-02) (aged 77)
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)-Caroline A. Fowler English, Anna Robinson Morris English
ProfessionPolitician, banker, lumberman, manufacturer

James Edward English (March 13, 1812 – March 2, 1890) was a United States Representative and later U.S. Senator from Connecticut, and Governor of Connecticut.

Early life and education[edit]

English was born in New Haven, Connecticut and attended the common schools. An apprentice carpenter at the age of 16, he became a successful businessman, establishing the English and Welch Lumber Company, and restructuring the New Haven Clock Company into one of the largest clock manufacturers.[1] He was twice married, to Caroline A. Fowler and to Anna Robinson Morris. He had four children.


English engaged in the lumber business, banking, and manufacturing. He was a member of the New Haven board of selectmen from 1847 to 1861, and a member of the common council in 1848 and 1849. He was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1855 and of the Connecticut Senate from 1856 to 1858, and was an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 1860.

English was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-seventh and Thirty-eighth Congresses, serving from March 4, 1861 to March 3, 1865.[2] He was not a candidate for renomination in 1864.

He left his ill wife to vote at the U.S. Capitol, where, despite being a Democrat, he voted in favor of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery in 1864. His "aye" prompted applause "and the tide turned." He later remarked that voting for the Amendment ruined his standing among Democrats, but he thought it the right thing to do, saying "I suppose I am politically ruined, but that day was the happiest of my life."[3] However, his reservation was not to be, as he had a fairly successful career afterwards.

Regarding his vote in favor of the Thirteenth Amendment, English said to a friend: "I suppose I am politically ruined, but that day was the happiest of my life."[4]

Unsuccessful in his 1866 gubernatorial bid, English was elected Connecticut's 26th governor on April 1, 1867,[5] serving from May 1, 1867 to May 5, 1869. He lost his reelection in 1869, but was successfully reelected in 1870 and served from May 4, 1870 to May 16, 1871. During his tenure, an argument between the railroad and shipping industries was settled with the approval for construction of two new bridges. English ran again for reelection in 1871, and won the popular vote, but a canvassing committee found the election was fraudulent with stolen votes and erroneous totals, and awarded the governorship to Marshall Jewell.

English was elected again in 1872 to serve in the Connecticut House of Representatives. He was appointed as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Orris S. Ferry and served from November 27, 1875, to May 17, 1876, when a successor was elected.[6]

An unsuccessful candidate for election in 1876 to fill the vacancy, English resumed his manufacturing and commercial activities.

In popular culture[edit]

  • In Steven Spielberg's 2012 Lincoln film, both English and Augustus Brandegee, his abolitionist Republican colleague from Connecticut, are given two fictional names and are both shown, erroneously, to have voted against the amendment.[7]


English died in New Haven March 2, 1890 (age 77 years, 354 days), and is interred at Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut.[8]


  1. ^ "James E. English". National Governors Association. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  2. ^ "James E. English". Govtrack US Congress. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  3. ^ English, Anna Morris (1891). In Memoriam: James Edward English. Michigan: Library of the University of Michigan. p. 23. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  4. ^ English, Anna Morris (1891). In Memoriam: James Edward English. Michigan: Library of the University of Michigan. pp. 22–23. Retrieved July 17, 2015. Mr. English remarked to a New Haven friend, while talking over this experience, 'I suppose I am politically ruined, but that day was the happiest of my life.'
  5. ^ Montgomery, David (1967). Beyond Equality: Labor and the Radical Republicans 1862-1872. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 296.
  6. ^ "James E. English". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  7. ^ Dowd, Maureen (February 17, 2013). "The Oscar for Best Fabrication". The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
  8. ^ "James E. English". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 5 December 2012.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Woodruff
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 2nd congressional district

March 4, 1861 – March 3, 1865
Succeeded by
Samuel L. Warner
Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph R. Hawley
Governor of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Marshall Jewell
Preceded by
Marshall Jewell
Governor of Connecticut
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Orris S. Ferry
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Connecticut
November 27, 1875 – May 17, 1876
Served alongside: William W. Eaton
Succeeded by
William H. Barnum

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.