Lawrence Brainerd

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Lawrence Brainerd
Lawrence Brainerd.jpg
United States Senator
from Vermont
In office
October 14, 1854 – March 3, 1855
Preceded by Samuel S. Phelps
Succeeded by Jacob Collamer
Member of the Vermont House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born (1794-03-16)March 16, 1794
East Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
Died May 9, 1870(1870-05-09) (aged 76)
St. Albans, Vermont, U.S.
Political party Whig, Liberty, Free Soil

Fidelia B. Gadcombe

Profession Banker
Railroad executive

Lawrence Brainerd (March 16, 1794 – May 9, 1870) was a businessman, abolitionist and United States Senator from Vermont. He was the father of Ann Eliza Brainerd Smith and the father-in-law of Vermont Governor J. Gregory Smith and Vermont Lieutenant Governor F. Stewart Stranahan.


Born in East Hartford, Connecticut on March 16, 1794, he went to Troy, New York in 1803 to reside with an uncle. In 1808 his uncle and he moved to St. Albans, Vermont. Brainerd completed preparatory studies, taught school, was employed as a clerk in a mercantile establishment until 1816. He went into business at an early age, and expanded his interests to include stores, banking, shipping, and railroads, becoming wealthy as a result.

In 1834 he was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives as a Whig. His anti-slavery views caused him to become a member of the Liberty Party. He was the party's unsuccessful candidate for Governor in 1846, 1847, 1848, 1852, and 1854.

In 1854 he was a member of the Free Soil Party when he was chosen by the Vermont General Assembly to fill a United States Senate vacancy. The Governor had appointed Samuel S. Phelps to fill the vacancy caused by the death of William Upham. Phelps served until the Senate resolved that while the Governor could make an appointment while the state legislature was not in session, it fell to the legislature to make a selection once it convened. The Vermont General Assembly then chose Brainerd to succeed Phelps, and he served from October 14, 1854 to March 3, 1855. He was not a candidate for election to a full term, and was subsequently nominated for Governor, which he declined.

Brainerd became a Republican when the party was founded, and was the first Chairman of the Vermont Republican Party. He was one of the five state party Chairmen who issued the call for the first Republican National Convention in 1856, was a Delegate, and called the convention to order for its first session.[1][2][3]

Brainerd remained active in his business ventures until his death in St. Albans on May 9, 1870. He was buried at Greenwood Cemetery in St. Albans.


His daughter Ann was a noted author. She was married to J. Gregory Smith, who served as Governor of Vermont and President of the Central Vermont Railway and Northern Pacific Railway. Smith founded Brainerd, Minnesota, which he named for his father in law's family.[4]

Brainerd's daughter Miranda was the wife of F. Stewart Stranahan, who was an executive in the Smith family businesses and served as Lieutenant Governor of Vermont from 1892 to 1894.[5][6]


  1. ^ Charles S. Forbes, The Vermonter magazine, History of the Republican Party, June 1906 page 176
  2. ^ William E. Gienapp, The Origins of the Republican Party, 1852-1856, 1987, page 253
  3. ^ Green Berry Raum, History of Illinois Republicanism, 1900, page 26
  4. ^ Warren Upham, Minnesota Place Names: A Geographical Encyclopedia, 2001, page 157
  5. ^ Daughters of the American Revolution, Lineage Book, Volume 4, 1897, page 269
  6. ^ Vermont Historical Society, Vermont Women's History Project, Women of Note in St. Albans: Miranda Aldis Brainerd Archived 2013-12-13 at the Wayback Machine., retrieved December 13, 2013

External links

  • United States Congress. "Lawrence Brainerd (id: B000760)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • Lawrence Brainerd at Find a Grave
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Samuel S. Phelps
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Vermont
October 14, 1854 – March 3, 1855
Served alongside: Solomon Foot
Succeeded by
Jacob Collamer
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