Governor Nelson Dewey | Painting | Wisconsin Historical Society


Governor Nelson Dewey

Governor Nelson Dewey | Painting | Wisconsin Historical Society
Waist-up portrait of Governor Nelson Dewey.
Waist-up portrait of Governor Nelson Dewey.
Image ID:2407
Creation Date:date unknown
Creator Name:Unknown
Collection Name:WHS Museum Collection
Original Format Type:paintings
Original Format Number:Museum 1942.466
Original Dimensions:unknown
"Dewey, Nelson (Dec. 19, 1813-July 20, 1889), first governor of Wisconsin, lawyer, land speculator, b. Lebanon Conn. He graduated from Hamilton Academy, N.Y., and studied law in Louisville and Cooperstown law offices. In 1836 he came to Cassville and served as a clerk for a New York firm of speculators promoting Cassville as the territorial capital. He was elected Grant County registrar of deeds (1837), and was appointed district attorney (1838), and served in both the territorial assembly (1838-1842) and council (1842-1846). Defeated for re-election by the rise of the Whigs, he turned to law and speculation, acquiring considerable lead-mining property. Admitted to the Grant County bar in 1838, he later practiced law in partnership with J. Allen Barber at Lancaster (1840-1848). The Democratic convention of 1848, deadlocked between eastern and lead-region factions, chose Dewey as its compromise candidate for governor. He defeated the Whig candidate, John H. Tweedy, and served as governor until Jan. 5, 1852, his administration being largely devoted to setting the machinery of government in motion. He continued to be active in the Democratic party throughout his life, was elected to the state senate (1853), was delegate to numerous state Democratic conventions and to the national convention in 1888, and held several local offices. He was a university regent (1854-1865) and on the board of directors of the state prison (1874-1881). In 1854 he purchased the Cassville development, which had been in bankruptcy since 1837, completed the huge hotel, the Dennison House, adjusted the tangled land titles, and built an imposing home. But the investment was unprofitable, not many settlers came, and his home burned. His fortune gone, and politically impotent, he returned to the law." (State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography, 1960, p. 101.)
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