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Samuel Prentiss

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Samuel Prentiss
Judge Samuel Prentiss (cropped).jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont
In office
April 8, 1842 – January 15, 1857
Appointed byJohn Tyler
Preceded byElijah Paine
Succeeded byDavid Allen Smalley
United States Senator
from Vermont
In office
March 4, 1831 – April 11, 1842
Preceded byDudley Chase
Succeeded bySamuel C. Crafts
Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court
In office
Preceded byRichard Skinner
Succeeded byTitus Hutchinson
Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court
In office
Preceded byJoel Doolittle
Succeeded byTitus Hutchinson
Member of the Vermont House of Representatives from Montpelier
In office
Preceded byAraunah Waterman
Succeeded byWilliam Upham
Personal details
Samuel Prentiss

(1782-03-31)March 31, 1782
Stonington, Connecticut
DiedJanuary 15, 1857(1857-01-15) (aged 74)
Montpelier, Vermont
Resting placeGreen Mount Cemetery
Montpelier, Vermont
Political partyFederalist
National Republican
Spouse(s)Lucretia Houghton (m. 1804-1855, her death)
Children12 (including Theodore Prentiss)
RelativesJohn Holmes Prentiss (brother)

Samuel Prentiss (March 31, 1782 – January 15, 1857) was an Associate Justice and Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court, a United States Senator from Vermont and a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont.

Education and career

Born on March 31, 1782, in Stonington, Connecticut,[1] Prentiss moved with his family to Worcester, Massachusetts, and then to Northfield, Massachusetts in 1786, completed preparatory studies and was instructed in the classics by private tutor Reverend Samuel C. Allen.[1] He studied law in Northfield with attorney Samuel Vose,[1] and Brattleboro, Vermont with attorney John W. Blake[1] in 1802.[1] He was admitted to the bar and practiced in Montpelier, Vermont from 1803 to 1824.[2]

He was a member of the Vermont House of Representatives from 1824 to 1825.[1] He was an Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court from 1825 to 1829,[3] and Chief Justice from 1829 to 1830.[3]

Political affiliations and unsuccessful candidacy

In addition to practicing law, Prentiss became active in politics, first as a Federalist,[4] and later as a National Republican[5][6] and Whig.[6] He was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States House of Representatives in 1816.[4]

Congressional service

Prentiss was elected in 1831 to the United States Senate as a National Republican. He was reelected as a Whig in 1837 and served from March 4, 1831, to April 11, 1842, when he resigned to accept a judicial appointment.[6] He was Chairman of the Committee on Patents and the Patent Office for the 27th United States Congress.[6]

Anti-dueling statute

White in the Senate, Prentiss was the originator and successful advocate of the law to suppress dueling in the District of Columbia.[1]

Federal judicial service

Prentiss was nominated by President John Tyler on April 8, 1842, to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Vermont vacated by Judge Elijah Paine.[1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on April 8, 1842, and received his commission the same day.[1] His service terminated on January 15, 1857, due to his death in Montpelier.[1] He was interred in Green Mount Cemetery in Montpelier.[7]


The fourth in his family to be named Samuel Prentiss, Prentiss was the son of Lucretia (Holmes) Prentiss and Samuel Prentiss III (1759-1818), a physician who served as an army surgeon during the American Revolution.[1][8] His grandfather, Colonel Samuel Prentiss II (1736-1809), was also a veteran of the Revolution.[1][8] Prentiss was the brother of John Holmes Prentiss, a United States Representative from New York.[2] In 1804, Prentiss married Lucretia Houghton (1786–1855) of Northfield.[1] They were the parents of 12 children.[9] Their son Theodore Prentiss was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly.[citation needed]

Notable law student

Among the lawyers who received their education and training in Prentiss's office was William Upham, who later served in the United States Senate.[10]

Other service and honors

Prentiss was a trustee of Dartmouth College from 1820 to 1827;[11] he received the honorary degrees of Artium Magister[11] and Legum Doctor[11] from Dartmouth in 1817 and 1832.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m The History of the Town of Montpelier, pp. 447-451.
  2. ^ a b "Samuel Prentiss". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  3. ^ a b History of Vermont, Natural, Civil and Statistical, p. 124.
  4. ^ a b "Vermont Election Results", p. 2.
  5. ^ Annual Report of the American Historical Association, p. 507.
  6. ^ a b c d Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005, p. 1762.
  7. ^ "Prominent People Buried in Vermont:Samuel Prentiss".
  8. ^ a b DAR Lineage Book, p. 273.
  9. ^ The History of the Town of Montpelier, p. 451.
  10. ^ The History of the Town of Montpelier, p. 454.
  11. ^ a b c d General Catalogue of Dartmouth College, p. 67.




External links

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Dudley Chase
 U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Vermont
Served alongside: Horatio Seymour, Benjamin Swift and Samuel S. Phelps
Succeeded by
Samuel C. Crafts
Legal offices
Preceded by
Joel Doolittle
Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court
Succeeded by
Titus Hutchinson
Preceded by
Richard Skinner
Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court
Succeeded by
Titus Hutchinson
Preceded by
Elijah Paine
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont
Succeeded by
David Allen Smalley
This page was last edited on 21 January 2020, at 13:27
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