ROSWELL FARNHAM was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Vermont, after which he worked as both a teacher and principal. He went on to practice law until the outbreak of the Civil War, during which he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and ultimately commanded the 12th Vermont Volunteer Regiment. He returned to the practice of law when the war ended and became counsel for the Vermont Copper Mining Company. His public life had begun with his election as State's Attorney prior to the Civil War, a post to which he was reelected while still serving in the military. In 1868-69 he was a state senator, and served for three years on the State Board of Education. As governor, Farnham focused on school and prison reform and encouraged manufacturing businesses to locate in Vermont. After leaving office, he resumed his law practice.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 8. New York: James T. White & Company.