Decatur Merritt Hammond Carpenter (1824 - 1881)

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Matthew Hale Carpenter, U.S. Senator's Geni Profile

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Nicknames: "Matthew", "Hale", "Carpenter"
Birthplace: Moretown, Washington, Vermont, United States
Death: Died in Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
Managed by: Doug Robinson
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Immediate Family

About Decatur Merritt Hammond Carpenter

Matthew Hale Carpenter (born Decatur Merritt Hammond Carpenter; December 22, 1824 – February 24, 1881), was a member of the Republican Party who served in the United States Senate for the state of Wisconsin from 1869–1875 and again from 1879–1881.

Carpenter was born in Moretown, Vermont. He served as District Attorney of Rock County, Wisconsin, from 1850 to 1854. He was originally a member of the Democratic Party until the start of the Civil War. While in the United States Senate, he served as the President pro tempore during the 43rd Congress. Carpenter died in Washington, D.C., while in office and was buried at Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


CARPENTER, Matthew Hale, a Senator from Wisconsin; born Decatur Merritt Hammond Carpenter in Moretown, Washington County, Vt., December 22, 1824; attended the common schools; entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1843 and remained two years; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1847 and practiced in Boston, Mass.; moved to Beloit, Wis., in 1848 and became known as Matthew Hale Carpenter; district attorney of Rock County 1850-1854; moved to Milwaukee in 1858; belonged to the Douglas wing of the Democratic Party until the commencement of the Civil War; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1869, to March 3, 1875; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1875; served as President pro tempore of the Senate during the Forty-third Congress; chairman, Committee on Enrolled Bills (Forty-second Congress), Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expense (Forty-second and Forty-third Congresses); resumed the practice of law in Washington and in Milwaukee; again elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1879, until his death in Washington, D.C., February 24, 1881; interment in Forest Home Cemetery, Milwaukee, Wis.


Info added @ Mary S Lockwood's "Lineage Book of the Charter Members of the DAR.

US Senator from Wisconsin. Born Decatur Merritt Hammond Carpenter, the Vermont native attended West Point (1843 to 1845), studied law, and became a practicing attorney in Boston, Massachusetts in 1847.

The following year he moved to Beloit, Wisconsin, where he changed his name to Matthew Hale Carpenter and served as District Attorney for Rock County (1850 to 1854). In 1858 he settled in Milwaukee, winning a reputation for tackling cases that involved important social issues of the day. Carpenter was a Democrat throughout his early career and supported the presidential bid of Stephen Douglas in 1860, but as a Unionist in the Civil War years he switched to the Republican Party. In 1868 he won his first term representing Wisconsin in the US Senate, serving from March 4, 1869 to March 3, 1875. During his time on Capitol Hill he was the Senate's President pro tempore (1873 to 1875) and chairman of the Committee on Enrolled Bills (1871 to 1873) and the Committee to Audit and Control the Contigent Expense (1873 to 1875). A staunch supporter of President Grant, Carpenter was unfairly identified with the corruption associated with that administration, and several unpopular stances (such as his support of railroad regulation) lost him support at home. 

Defeated for reelection in 1874, he resumed private law practice with offices in Milwaukee and Washington DC. Nicknamed "The Webster of the West", Carpenter was acknowledged as one of the greatest constitutional lawyers of his time. He argued his first case before the US Supreme Court in 1862 and continued to do so while in the Senate. In "Bradwell vs. State" (1872) he argued for the right for women to become attorneys; in the "Slaughterhouse Cases" (1873) he convinced the court that the 14th Amendment did not prohibit states from regulating big business. He also defended Secretary of War William W. Belknap in his US House impeachment proceedings (1876) and represented candidate Samuel J. Tilden before the commission investigating the disputed 1876 presidential election.

By 1878 Carpenter was again in his party's good graces and was reelected to the US Senate, serving from March 4, 1879 until his death. He died at 56 in Washington DC from complications of diabetes. After temporary interment in the capitol's Oak Hill Cemetery, his remains were brought back to Milwaukee for reburial at Forest Home Cemetery.

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Matthew Hale Carpenter, U.S. Senator's Timeline

December 22, 1824
Moretown, Washington, Vermont, United States
Age 32
February 24, 1881
Age 56
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
Forest Home Cemetery Milwaukee Milwaukee County Wisconsin