Nathaniel Prentice Banks
Nathaniel Prentice Banks, a Representative from Massachusetts; born in Waltham, Mass., January 30, 1816; member of the State house of representatives 1849-1852, for two years serving as speaker; member of the State constitutional convention of 1853; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-third Congress, as the candidate of the American Party to the Thirty-fourth Congress, and as a Republican to the Thirty-fifth Congress and served from March 4, 1853, until he resigned December 24, 1857, to become Governor; Speaker of the House of Representatives (Thirty-fourth Congress).
U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives contest for the Thirty-fourth Congress
Nathaniel Prentice Banks had the longest and one of the most bitter speakership contests on record, lasting from December 3, 1855, to February 2, 1856 and requiring 133 ballots. It gave antislavery congressmen important posts in the U.S. Congress for the very first time.
Political life after serving as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
He was Governor of Massachusetts from January 1858, until January 1861; moved to Chicago, Ill.; vice president of the Illinois Central Railroad; entered the Union Army as a major general of Volunteers May 16, 1861; honorably mustered out August 24, 1865; returned to Massachusetts; elected as a Republican to the Thirty-ninth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Daniel W. Gooch; reelected as a Republican to the Fortieth, Forty-first, and Forty-second Congresses and served from December 4, 1865, to March 3, 1873; chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs (Thirty-ninth through Forty-second Congresses); unsuccessful Liberal and Democratic candidate for reelection in 1872 to the Forty-third Congress; member of the State senate in 1874; elected as an Independent to the Forty-fourth Congress and as a Republican to the Forty-fifth Congress (March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1879); unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1878 to the Forty-sixth Congress; appointed United States marshal on March 11, 1879, and served until April 23, 1888; elected as a Republican to the Fifty-first Congress (March 4, 1889 – March 3, 1891); chairman, Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Interior (Fifty-first Congress); unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1890 to the Fifty-second Congress; died in Waltham, Middlesex County, Mass., September 1, 1894; interment in Grove Hill Cemetery.
He attended the common schools; a machinist by trade; editor of a weekly paper in Waltham, Mass.; clerk in the customhouse in Boston, Mass.; studied law; was admitted to the Suffolk County bar and commenced practice in Boston.
- Address of His Excellency Nathaniel P. Banks to the Two Branches of the Legislature of Massachusetts, January 6, 1859. United States: William White, Printer to the State, 1860.. (PDF)