Reuben Fenton

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Reuben Eaton Fenton
Reuben Fenton - Brady-Handy.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 33rd district
In office
March 4, 1853 – March 3, 1855
Preceded by Augustus P. Hascall
Succeeded by Francis S. Edwards
In office
March 4, 1857 – March 3, 1863
Preceded by Francis S. Edwards
Succeeded by Nelson I. Norton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 31st district
In office
March 4, 1863 – December 20, 1864
Preceded by Burt Van Horn
Succeeded by Henry Van Aernam
22nd Governor of New York
In office
January 1, 1865 – December 31, 1868
Lieutenant Thomas G. Alvord (1865–1866)
Stewart L. Woodford (1867–1868)
Preceded by Horatio Seymour
Succeeded by John T. Hoffman
United States Senator
from New York
In office
March 4, 1869 – March 3, 1875
Preceded by Edwin D. Morgan
Succeeded by Francis Kernan
Personal details
Born (1819-07-04)July 4, 1819
Carroll, New York, U.S.
Died August 25, 1885(1885-08-25) (aged 66)
Jamestown, New York, U.S.
Political party Republican

Reuben Eaton Fenton (July 4, 1819 – August 25, 1885) was an American merchant and politician from New York.


Gubernatorial portrait of New York Governor Reuben E. Fenton.

The son of a farmer, Fenton was born near Frewsburg, in Chautauqua County, New York. In 1840, he was named commander of the New York Militia's 162nd Infantry Regiment with the rank of colonel. He became a lumber merchant, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1841.[1] Fenton entered politics as a Democrat. He was Town Supervisor of Carroll from 1843 to 1850.

He was elected as a Democrat to the 33rd United States Congress, and served from March 4, 1853, to March 3, 1855. In his first term in Congress, Fenton strongly opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and unsuccessfully tried to persuade President Franklin Pierce and U.S. Secretary of State William L. Marcy to oppose the bill. He was defeated for re-election that year. He left the Democratic Party to help organize the Republican Party,[1] and was later elected, as a Republican, to the 35th, 36th, 37th and 38th United States Congresses, and served from 1857 to 1865.

He was Governor of New York from 1865 to 1868, elected in 1864 and 1866. In 1868, he was among the candidates to be Vice President but the nomination went eventually to Schuyler Colfax. In January 1869, he was elected a U.S. Senator from New York and served from 1869 to 1875. In 1872 he was among the Republicans opposed to President Ulysses S. Grant who joined the short-lived Liberal Republican Party.

Fenton (center) is among the conspiratorial Liberal Republicans in this Harper's Weekly cartoon of March 16, 1872.

In 1878, Fenton represented the United States at the international monetary conference in Paris. He was known as "The Soldiers' Friend" for his efforts to help returning Civil War veterans. He worked to remove tuition charges for public education, helped to establish six schools for training teachers, and signed the charter for Cornell University.


The town of Fenton in Broome County, New York is named for Reuben Fenton.

His former home in Jamestown is the site of the Fenton History Center. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.[2]

After his death, a building at The State University of New York at Fredonia, Fenton Hall, was named in his honor because he had attended the previous incarnation of the school, the Fredonia Academy.

Fenton Avenue in The Bronx, New York, is named for him.


  1. ^ a b "Reuben Eaton Fenton Papers, 1854-1887 (finding aid)". New York State Library web site. New York State Library. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  2. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.

External links

  • Mr. Lincoln and New York: Reuben E. Fenton
  • Google Book Life Sketches of State Officers, Senators, and Members of Assembly in the State of New York in 1867 by S. R. Harlow and H. H. Boone (Weed, Parsons & Co., Albany NY, 1867)
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Augustus P. Hascall
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 33rd congressional district

March 4, 1853 – March 3, 1855
Succeeded by
Francis S. Edwards
Preceded by
Francis S. Edwards
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 33rd congressional district

March 4, 1857 – March 3, 1863
District eliminated
Preceded by
Burt Van Horn
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 31st congressional district

March 4, 1863 – December 20, 1864
Succeeded by
Henry Van Aernam
Political offices
Preceded by
Horatio Seymour
Governor of New York
Succeeded by
John T. Hoffman
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Edwin D. Morgan
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New York
Served alongside: Roscoe Conkling
Succeeded by
Francis Kernan
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