William Hunter (senator)

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William Hunter
Charles Bird King portrait of Senator William Hunter.jpg
Portrait by Charles Bird King, 1824
United States Senator
from Rhode Island
In office
October 28, 1811 – March 4, 1821
Preceded by Christopher G. Champlin
Succeeded by James De Wolf
Member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born (1774-11-26)November 26, 1774
Newport, Rhode Island
Died December 3, 1849(1849-12-03) (aged 75)
Newport, Rhode Island
Resting place Trinity Church Graveyard
Political party Federalist
Alma mater Rhode Island College
Profession Law
Hunter's House in Newport

William Hunter (November 26, 1774 – December 3, 1849) was an American politician and diplomat and namesake/owner of the Hunter House museum.

Life and career

Hunter was born in Newport, Rhode Island, as the youngest son of seven children of Debora Malbone Hunter and Dr. William Hunter, a prominent Newport doctor, scholar and merchant.[1] He attended the Rogers School and graduated from the College of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (the former name of Brown University) at Providence in 1791. In 1791 he went to England to study medicine, but when he arrived there he changed his mind and studied law. He returned to the United States in 1793 and established a law practice in Newport. He was a member of the Rhode Island General Assembly from 1799 to 1812, a member of the United States Senate from Rhode Island from 1811 to 1821, and a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives from 1823 to 1825. Hunter had been elected by the state legislature to the United States Senate in 1811 after a senator resigned, and elected to a full term in 1814. On June 17, 1812, he was one of 13 Senators who voted against declaring war against Britain. He was a member of the United States Federalist Party in the Senate, and served as chairman of the Commerce Committee from 1815 to 1817.

Hunter was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1815.[2]

He was a member of the Artillery Company of Newport, a militia unit to which many of Newport's leading citizens belonged.

After leaving the Senate, Hunter continued to practice law in Newport. In 1836, he was appointed by President Andrew Jackson to be the United States representative to Brazil. He served in this position for 9 years, until 1845, and then returned to Newport, where he died four years later. Hunter is buried in the Trinity Church graveyard.

Information about his political beliefs and activities while in the Senate is not easily available. One opinion that he is known for is that he believed that the state of Massachusetts was exaggerating its role in the Revolutionary War.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Krumbhaar, E. B (1935). "Doctor William Hunter of Newport". Annals of Surgery. 101 (1): 506–528. PMC 1391103. PMID 17856478.
  2. ^ American Antiquarian Society Members Directory

External links

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Christopher G. Champlin
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Rhode Island
Served alongside: Jeremiah B. Howell,
James Burrill, Jr., Nehemiah R. Knight
Succeeded by
James De Wolf
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Ethan Allen Brown
United States Chargé d'Affaires, Brazil
7 January 1835 – 1 January 1842
Promoted to
Envoy Extraordinary and
Minister Plenipotentiary
Promoted from
Chargé d'Affaires
United States Minister to Brazil
1 January 1842 – 9 December 1843
Succeeded by
George H. Proffit
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