Buckingham, William Alfred



William Alfred Buckingham (May 28, 1804 – February 5, 1875) was a Republican United States Senator from Connecticut. During his tenure, he dealt successfully with the effects of an economic panic that occurred in the state and with the outbreak of the Civil war. Buckingham arranged for troops, with 54 companies enlisting instead of 10. Before the General Assembly appropriated $2 million for military expenses, Buckingham had begun borrowing money in his own name to finance Connecticut's war efforts.  He was named the "War Governor".  Autograph Slip Writing Signed, n.d. 5 x 3 mounted, and sgned in black ink on line blue paper overall very fine condition.

Lincoln knew well what Connecticut today has largely forgotten: Its Civil War governor, William Alfred Buckingham, was one of the greatest leaders in the state's long history. One of only four Union governors to serve throughout the entire Civil War, Buckingham proved an able, energetic administrator, a staunch and often eloquent opponent of slavery and a vital supporter of the Lincoln administration. His decisiveness and political courage in the days immediately following Fort Sumter assured that Connecticut was among the first states to answer Lincoln's call for volunteers to put down the Southern rebellion.

When the crisis refused to die quickly, Buckingham's administration worked tirelessly over the next four years to raise and supply troops. The governor worked 12-hour days, seven days a week, traveling between the two state capitals, in Hartford and New Haven, and his home in Norwich, which became a third command center. He made regular trips toWashington, D.C., and to other Union states to confer with peers and made it a priority to personally address Connecticut troops whenever possible to thank them for their service.

Buckingham was elected as Connecticut's first Republican governor in 1858, just four years after the national formation of the party. He served until 1866, surviving hotly contested annual elections and, after a brief return to private life, was elected in 1868 to the U.S. Senate, where he served until his death in February 1875. A great parade in Hartford on June 18, 1884, marked the dedication of the seated bronze statute of Buckingham that occupies a prominent position in the state Capitol's Hall of Flags. For years afterward, Buckingham Day observances were held. But today, Buckingham's legacy has been largely forgotten. His Norwich home, a two-story Italianate building built in 1847 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is literally falling apart. Bricks and mortar are crumbling, the roof needs replacement and the wooden porch is sagging. A consultant last year estimated that $375,000 was needed for restoration, and the local historical society wants the city of Norwich, which maintains several offices in the building, to acquire ownership.

After Buckingham's death, the home was acquired by Civil War veterans and became The Buckingham Memorial, Sedgwick Post No. 1, and in the 1930s ownership passed to the Buckingham Memorial Association, said city historian Dale Plummer, whose snug office on the first-floor hallway is above a shelter for the homeless in the basement.

"Gov. Buckingham might have liked that. He was a generous soul,'' Plummer said. Buckingham declined renomination in 1866, and after leaving office, was elected to the U.S. Senate on March 4, 1869. He served in the Senate until his death on February 5, 1875. He is buried at the Yantic Cemetery in Norwich."