Governor Hugh Johnston Anderson


A Collection of Biographical Sketches of all the Governors since the formation of the State.

Prepaired under the direction of Henry Chase
Portland, ME.
The Lakeside Press, Publisher

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HUGH JOHNSTON ANDERSON was born in Wiscasset. Me., May io, 1801. His father was John Anderson, a native of County Down, Ireland. He was married in 1789, and started with his new wife immediately for America. Two brothers bad preceded, one settling in Georgia, at Savannah, and the other at Belfast, Me. John settled in Wiscasset, where Hugh was born. The father died in 1810.

After the death of his parent, Hugh, then a lad of fourteen years, went to Belfast as clerk in his undeís store. Here he remained for some years and was finally admitted a member of the firm, where he continued until 1827, when he was elected Clerk of Courts for Waldo County. He became a Democrat in his early years, taking part in the discussions of the questions of the day, and was a strong supporter of that party through his whole life, never for a moment faltering in his allegiance to its principles. During his residence in Belfast he devoted all his spare hours to study, and aided by his mother, who was a woman of high literary attainments and exalted piety, he secured a good and substantial education. The studious habits thus formed in his early years followed him through life. He was always a great student and became a fine scholar in after years.

In 1837 Mr. Anderson was elected a member of Congress, and re-elected, in 1839, by an increased majority. He was an active member of the Committee of Commerce, and distinguished himself generally by his devotion to duty. He was untiring in his effort to advance the interests of his constituents in every possible way, as well as those of his party. By his honorable and able course in Congress and his genial manners he won the confidence and respect of President Van Buren, which afterwards ripened into a warm friendship that continued during the life of the President. In 1840 he was intrusted with the political interests of the President in Maine, and it was largely through Mr. Andersonís influence that the vote of the State was given for Mr. Van Burenís re-nomination in the Convention. The defeat of Mr. Van Buren in that memorable presidential contest was a great blow to Mr. Anderson, which he keenly felt. Though the party had been defeated in the State and Nation, the leaders were not disheartened. They immediately went to work to find the cause and repair the damage. The following year the State swung back into line, and the Democratic candidate for Governor was elected by ten thousand majority.

In 1843 Mr. Anderson was nominated as a candidate for Governor by his party and elected by a handsome majority. He was re-elected the two following years by increased majorities. He discharged the duties of his office in an able and most acceptable manner, and on retiring from it he carried with him the esteem and high regard of men of alt parties. Mr. Anderson was brought forward in 1847 by his friends in the Legislature as their candidate for the United States Senate. Hannibal Hamlin was his opponent. After repeated trials it was evident that neither could succeed. Mr. Anderson withdrew and Hon. James W. Bradbury, of Augusta, received the nomination and the election.

In 1852 he was appointed by President Pierce Commissioner of Customs for the Treasury Department,. which place he filled with signal ability during that administration. Mr. Buchanan, in 1857, appointed Mr. Anderson at the head of a Commission to reorganize and adjust the affairs of the mint at San Francisco, and also to investigate certain claims against the Government. Associated with him on this Commission was Edwin M. Stanton, who was afterwards Secretary of War in Mr. Lincolnís Cabinet. A warm friendship sprang up between these two gentlemen, which only ended with the death of the great war minister.

About two years were spent in the service in California, when Mr. Anderson returned to Washington, where his family had resided since 1853, and where he continued to reside until he came to Portland in the spring of 1880. In 1868 he was appointed by President Johnson Sixth Auditor of the Treasury, and though the Senate was severely antagonistic, he was promptly confirmed and served with great credit to himself and the Government during that administration.

Governor Anderson was endowed by nature with a fine intellect, which he cultivated and strengthened by almost constant study and observation. He was a great student of English literature and English history. His mind rather run in the direction of historic research, and his knowledge on those subjects was remarkably accurate and comprehensive. To a cultivated mind he added grace of manners and a sweet and lovable disposition, which endeared him to a wide circle of friends and made him an enjoyable companion.

In his domestic relations he was very fortunate and most happy. In his later years the turmoil and strife of political life became wearisome to him, and he gave himself up to the companionship of his books and the sweet enjoyment of his family. In 1832 he married Miss Martha J. Dummer, of Belfast, with whom he lived for nearly fifty years, in a home made beautiful and bright by her grace and sweetness. He always acknowledged his great indebtedness to her for her wise counsel and sweet sympathy, which he said was one great cause of his success. They had six children. Two of his children died soon after be came to Portland, which was a sad bereavement and from which he never recovered. He peacefully passed away on the afternoon of the 31th day of May, 1881. Mrs. Anderson survived her husband only a few months.

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