William Alfred Buckingham (William Alfred Buckingham)
William Alfred Buckingham entered into a career in the mercantile industry, and in 1848 helped to organize the Hayward Rubber Company, a business that developed into a successful enterprise. Buckingham served as the mayor of Norwich, Connecticut from 1849 to 1850, and again from 1856 to 1857. He also served as Norwich’s town treasurer and a member of the city council. Winning the 1858 Republican gubernatorial nomination, Buckingham was elected and served as the 41st Governor of Connecticut. He was reelected to the governorship the next seven years, serving from May 5, 1858, until May 2, 1866. During his tenure, he dealt successfully with the effects of an economic panic that occurred in the state and with the outbreak of the Civil war. Buckingham arranged for troops, with 54 companies enlisting instead of 10. Before the General Assembly appropriated $2 million for military expenses, Buckingham had begun borrowing money in his own name to finance Connecticut’s war efforts.
The outbreak of the Civil War was the major reason for Buckingham’s long tenure as Connecticut’s governor. A strong supporter of Abraham Lincoln, William Alfred Buckingham hosted Lincoln when Lincoln campaigned in Connecticut, and a personal friendship formed between them. When the President called on the Northern governors to assist him in prosecuting the war, Buckingham worked seven days a week, twelve hours a day. The state’s major correspondent with the Federal government, he read and answered letters from troops in the field and visited troops at war as well as at home. Concerned for the welfare of Connecticut troops, he oversaw much of the procurement of men and materials for the war, and he is quoted as saying to an official in Washington: “Don’t let any Connecticut man suffer for want of anything that can be done for him. If it costs money, draw on me for it.” It is estimated that Connecticut sent 54,882 soldiers to fight in the Civil War. In 1862, the United States Congress passed an act allowing for the enlistment of colored soldiers, and in November 1863, Buckingham persuaded the Connecticut General Assembly to authorize a state regiment of black soldiers, the first of which was to be the Twenty-Ninth. Buckingham is known as a “War Governor” for his work. William Alfred Buckingham declined renomination in 1866, and after leaving office, was elected to the U.S. Senate on March 4, 1869, and served until his death on February 5, 1875. While in the Senate, Buckingham served as chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Engrossed Bills, the U.S. Senate Committee on Investigation and Retrenchment, and the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Buckingham died in Norwich on February 5, 1875 (age 70 years, 253 days). He is interred at Yantic Cemetery, Norwich, Connecticut.
- May, 28, 1804
- Lebanon, Connecticut
- February, 05, 1875
- Norwich, Connecticut
- Yantic Cemetery
- Norwich, Connecticut