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Nathaniel Prentice Banks

Gov. Nathaniel Prentice Banks

  • January 7, 1858 - January 3, 1861
  • Republican
  • January 30, 1816
  • September 1, 1894
  • Massachusetts
  • Married Mary Theodosia Palmer; three children
  • Representative
  • Army


NATHANIEL P. BANKS, who served under five different party affiliations during his political career, was born in Waltham, Massachusetts on January 30, 1816. His early education was attained in the common schools of his native state. For a while, he worked as a machinist in a cotton factory, and later, edited a local paper in Waltham. Resuming his education, Banks studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1839, and then established his legal career in Boston. Banks entered politics in 1849, serving as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, a position he held three years. He also served as speaker of the house from 1851 to 1852, was a member of the 1853 Massachusetts Constitutional Convention, and served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1853 to 1857. In 1857, Banks won election to the Massachusetts governorship. He was sworn into office on January 7, 1858, becoming the twenty-fifth governor to serve the state. Banks was reelected to a second term in 1859, and to a third term in 1860. After completing his term, Banks left office on January 3, 1861. For the next four years, he served in the Civil War, first as a major general of volunteers, and later as the commander of the 5th Corps. After his military duty, he returned to his political career. He served again in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1865 to 1873, 1875 to 1879 and 1889 to 1891. He also served as a member of the Massachusetts State Senate in 1874, and was the U.S. Marshal from 1879 to 1888. Governor Nathaniel P. Banks passed away on September 1, 1894, and was buried at the Grove Hill Cemetery in Waltham, Massachusetts.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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