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About James Edward English
James Edward English (March 13, 1812 – March 2, 1890) was a United States Representative and Senator from Connecticut.
English was born in New Haven, Connecticut and attended the common schools. An apprentice carpenter at the age of 16, he became a successful businessman, establishing the English and Welch Lumber Company, and restructuring the New Haven Clock Company into one of the largest clock manufacturers. He was twice married; to Caroline A. Fowler and to Anna Robinson Morris. He had four children; Edward Fowler English (1838 - 1841), Augusta Caroline English (1843 - 1857), Edward Fowler English (1848 - 1849), and Henry Fowler English (1851 - 1947).
English engaged in the lumber business, banking, and manufacturing. He was a member of the New Haven board of selectmen from 1847 to 1861, and a member of the common council in 1848 and 1849. He was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1855 and of the Connecticut Senate from 1856 to 1858, and was an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 1860.
English was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-seventh and Thirty-eighth Congresses, serving from March 4, 1861 to March 4, 1865. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1864.
Left his ill wife to vote at The Capitol in favor of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in 1864. His "aye" prompted applause "and the tide turned." Sadly, in Steven Spielberg's 2012 epic Lincoln movie, both English and Augustus Brandegee, his abolitionist Republican colleague from Connecticut, are given two fictional names and are both shown, erroneously, to have voted against the amendment.
Unsuccessful in his 1866 gubernatorial bid, English was elected Connecticut's 26th governor on April 1, 1867, serving from May 1, 1867 to May 5, 1869. He lost his reelection in 1869, but was successfully reelected in 1870 and served from May 4, 1870 to May 16, 1871. During his tenure, an argument between the railroad and shipping industries was settled with the approval for construction of two new bridges. English ran again for reelection in 1871, and won the popular vote, but a canvassing committee found the election was fraudulent with stolen votes and erroneous totals, and awarded the governorship to Marshall Jewell.
English was elected again in 1872 to serve in the Connecticut House of Representatives. He was appointed as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Orris S. Ferry and served from November 27, 1875, to May 17, 1876, when a successor was elected.
An unsuccessful candidate for election in 1876 to fill the vacancy, English resumed his manufacturing and commercial activities.
English died in New Haven March 2, 1890 (age 77 years, 354 days), and is interred at Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut.