William Henry Barnum

Infobox Senator | name=William H. Barnum



jr/sr=United States Senator
state=Connecticut
party=Democratic
term_start=May 18, 1876
term_end=March 3, 1879
preceded=James E. English
succeeded=Orville H. Platt
date of birth=birth date|1818|09|17|mf=y
place of birth=Boston Corners, Massachusetts
dead=dead
date of death=death date and age|1889|04|30|1818|09|17
place of death =Lime Rock, Connecticut
religion = Episcopalian

William Henry Barnum (September 17 1818 - April 30 1889) was a United States politician, serving as a state representative, U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, and finally as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He was known as Seven Mule Barnum.

Though born in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, Barnum moved to Lime Rock, Connecticut and served in the state house of representatives from 1851 to 1852. He then served in the United States House of Representatives for Connecticut's 4th District from March 4 1867 to May 18 1876, until the death of Senator Orris S. Ferry. Barnum then became a United States Senator, serving until March 3 1879. He was chairman of the DNC from 1877 to 1889. He died in Lime Rock on April 30, 1889 and is buried in Lime Rock Cemetery.

In addition to Barnum's political attainments — which also include defeating his third cousin, the famous showman P. T. Barnum, for Congress, and notably being the longest-serving chair of the Democratic National Committee — Barnum was a prominent industrialist. The [http://www.lib.uconn.edu/online/research/speclib/ASC/findaids/BarnumRichardson/MSS19800037.html Barnum Richardson Company] , of which he was chief executive, was headquartered in Lime Rock (now a neighborhood of Lakeville) CT, was the leading company in the Salisbury iron district of that time, owning or controlling iron mines, charcoal production resources, limestone quarries, and rail transportation. Barnum Richardson Company was also the preeminent manufacturer of railroad car wheels at a time when the railroad industry held a place in the economy analogous to the computer industry today.

In 1872 he partnered with Collis P. Huntington to finance Ensign Manufacturing Company, a railroad freight car manufacturer. Among Ensign's products were the largest wooden hopper cars built for Central Pacific Railroad as well as a large number of high-capacity wood boxcars for Southern Pacific Railroad (both railroads were controlled in part by Huntington). Ensign was one of the 13 companies that merged in 1899 to form American Car and Foundry Company.cite web| url=http://www.midcontinent.org/rollingstock/builders/ensign.htm| title=Ensign Manufacturing Company| publisher=Mid-Continent Railway Museum| date=2006-04-09| accessdate=2008-04-15| ] [cite book| title=The American Railroad Freight Car| author=White, John H., Jr.| publisher=The Johns Hopkins University Press| location=Boston and London| year=1993| isbn=0-8018-5236-6| pages=pp 142, 202, 347| ]

William H. Barnum was also a pioneer in religious tolerance. Although an Episcopalian (he was the founder and first Senior Warden of [http://www.trinitylimerock.org Trinity Episcopal Church] in Lime Rock) he did not discriminate against Roman Catholics as so many in that area of New England did at the time. Notably, according to several stories in 1883 in the New York Times, he contributed around $6000 to St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church of Lakeville, and later contributed $500 to build a new Roman Catholic church in Cornwall Bridge, CT. Importantly, when the local community angrily responded to the raising of a crucifix by the local Catholic priest by demanding that Barnum fire all his Catholic workmen, he declined to do so.

References

* [http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=B000166 Biographical Directory of the United States Congress]


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