Edward Everett, Governor, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State

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Edward Hill Everett

Birthplace: Dorchester, Massachusetts, United States
Death: January 15, 1865 (70)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States (a cold)
Place of Burial: Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. Oliver Everett and Lucy Everett
Husband of Charlotte Gray Everett
Father of Anne Gorham Everett; Charlotte Brooks Everett; Grace Webster Everett; Edward Brooks Everett, MD; A daughter Everett and 2 others
Brother of Ann Gardner; Lucretia Orne Everett; Oliver Everett, Jr.; Lucy Durivage; Alexander Hill Everett and 4 others

Occupation: Clergyman, Statesman, & Orator; Unitarian Minister and Politician, American Politicain
Managed by: Ivy Jo Smith
Last Updated:

About Edward Everett, Governor, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State

Edward Everett was an American politician and educator from Massachusetts. Everett, a Whig, served as U.S. Representative, and U.S. Senator, the 15th Governor of Massachusetts, Minister to Great Britain, and United States Secretary of State. He also taught at Harvard University and served as president of Harvard.

Everett was one of the great American orators of the ante-bellum and Civil War era. He is often remembered today as the featured orator at the dedication ceremony of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg in 1863, where he spoke for over two hours - immediately before President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous, two-minute Gettysburg Address.

He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to the Rev. Oliver Everett, a 1779 graduate of Harvard College, and Lucy Hill, the daughter of Alexander S. Hill of Philadelphia. He was a direct descendant of Richard Everett and first cousin to Congressman Horace Everett. He attended Boston Latin School as well as Phillips Exeter Academy and, at the age of 13, he was admitted to Harvard University. In 1811, at age 17, he graduated as the valedictorian of his class. He studied theology under the urging of the Rev. Joseph Stevens Buckminster, and was ordained pastor of the Brattle Street Church in Boston in 1814. But he soon gave up the pulpit for further studies and a post as professor of Greek Literature.

By arrangement with Harvard, Everett spent two years in Europe, studying and traveling on full salary. He spent much of this time at the University of Göttingen in Germany, where he became the first American to receive a German Ph.D.. He learned French, German, and Italian, and studied Roman law, archaeology, and Greek art.

He returned to Harvard in 1819, and took up his teaching duties. He hoped to implant the scholarly methods of Germany at Harvard, but after a few years became bored with drilling students in Greek grammar, and became active in politics.

Marriage and children

On May 8, 1822 Edward Everett married Charlotte Gray Brooks, a descendant of John Howland, (c. 1599 – 1673) who was one of the Pilgrims who travelled from England to North America on the Mayflower, signed the Mayflower Compact, and helped found Plymouth Colony.[3] She was the daughter of Peter Chardon Brooks and Ann Gorham. Ann was the daughter of Rebecca Call and Nathaniel Gorham, the fourteenth President of the United States in Congress assembled, under the Articles of Confederation.

They had six children:

1.Anne Gorham Everett (March 3, 1823 – October 18, 1854)

2.Charlotte Brooks Everett (August 13, 1825 – December 15, 1879); married Captain Henry Augustus Wise USN

3.Grace Webster Everett (December 24, 1827 – 1836)

4.Edward Brooks Everett (May 6, 1830 – November 5, 1861); married Helen Cordis Adams

5.Henry Sidney Everett (December 31, 1834 – October 4, 1898); married Katherine Pickman Fay

6.William Everett (October 10, 1839 – February 16, 1910); U.S. Representative from Massachusetts

He was the great uncle of Edward Everett Hale.

Early political career

In 1824, Everett was elected U.S. Representative from Massachusetts' 4th Congressional District. The Federalist Party had collapsed, and the victorious Democratic-Republican Party had become diffuse, so no formal party affiliations existed at this time. Everett was associated with the "National Republican" faction of John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay. He supported Clay's "National System" and the interests of Massachusetts' propertied class. Everett was re-elected to four additional terms as a National Republican, serving until 1835. (The National Republicans became the Whig Party in 1834.)

Everett resigned his professorship in 1826, but remained associated with Harvard as a member of the Board of Overseers, serving until 1847.

Everett retired from Congress in 1835. Instead he ran for Governor of Massachusetts as a Whig. He was elected, taking office in January 1836. He was re-elected in 1836, 1837, and 1838, but was narrowly defeated in 1839. As Governor, he sought to improve public education in the state, following the Prussian model.

Diplomatic service

After leaving office in January 1840, Everett traveled in Europe with his family for several months. When the Whigs won the 1840 election, Everett was appointed "Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of St. James" (that is, ambassador to Great Britain) at the recommendation of his friend Daniel Webster. He served until 1845, when after a change of administrations he was replaced by Democrat Louis McLane.

Return to Harvard

With the Democrats in power, Everett was out of office. He took up the post of President of Harvard University in 1846, serving until 1849. He was not enamored of the job, finding that Harvard was short of resources. He was not popular with the rowdy students, who nicknamed him “Old Granny.” Nonetheless, he completed several important reforms and established Harvard's first school of science.

Later political career

When the Whigs won the 1848 election and returned to power in 1849, Everett resigned from Harvard and resumed political activity in Washington. He assisted Webster, now Secretary of State, and when Webster died in November 1852, President Fillmore appointed him to serve the remaining four months of Webster's term (till March 1853).

Meanwhile, Massachusetts elected Everett to the Senate, for a term starting March 4, 1853. As a Senator he angered Massachusetts anti-slavery men by not voting on the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Everett was nominally anti-slavery, but seemed overly concerned with placating pro-slavery Southerners to avoid civil war. This did not satisfy the increasingly vehement anti-slavery Massachusetts public. In April 1854, he presented a petition from the people of Dedham against the Missouri Compromise and one from the people of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in favor of securing religious freedom for Americans abroad. On June 1, 1854, after only a little more than one year of a six year term, Everett resigned.

Last years

Free of political obligations, Everett traveled the country with his family, occasionally giving public speeches in support of the Union and other good causes. He was by this time a famous orator, known for both the quality of his text and his outstanding delivery. He took up the cause of preserving George Washington's home at Mount Vernon. His speaking tour raised almost $70,000 for that purpose.

The 1860 election threatened to produce a national crisis, with pro-slavery Southerners splitting the Democratic Party, and threatening secession if a Republican was selected President. The Whig Party no longer existed, but a group of former Whigs formed the Constitutional Union Party, which claimed as its sole principle the preservation of the Union. The Constitutional Union Party nominated John Bell for President, and Everett for Vice President. The Bell-Everett ticket received less than 13% of the vote, mostly in the South.

With the election of Lincoln, the Civil War broke out. Everett, though he had been a moderate on the slavery issue, was an ardent Unionist. He devoted his efforts to raising support for the Union cause through public speaking. In November 1863, when the military cemetery at Gettysburg was dedicated, Everett was the featured speaker. His two-hour formal oration preceded the much shorter, but now far more famous Gettysburg Address of President Lincoln. For his part, Everett was deeply impressed by the concise speech and wrote to Lincoln noting "I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."[6]

In the 1864 election, Everett campaigned extensively for Lincoln and the "Union" Party, as the Republicans called themselves that year. He exhausted himself in this effort, and died on January 15, 1865.

Everett died in Boston and is interred at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Everett also had a love for mathematics as can be seen from his probably most famous quote: ‘In the pure mathematics we contemplate absolute truths which existed in the divine mind before the morning stars sang together, and which will continue to exist there when the last of their radiant host shall have fallen from heaven.’

Edward Everett Square, in Dorchester, Boston, is named for him. This is the intersection of Columbia Road, Massachusetts Avenue, East Cottage Street and Boston Street.

A elementary school in Chicago, Illinois was named after him in 1891. The school still stands at 3410 S. Bell Street.

There was also a city named after him called Everett, Massachusetts. It lies 4.1 miles from Boston

EVERETT, Edward, (father of William Everett), a Representative and a Senator from Massachusetts; born in Dorchester, Mass., April 11, 1794; graduated from Harvard University in 1811; tutor in that university 1812-1814; studied theology and was ordained pastor of the Brattle Street Unitarian Church, Boston, in 1814; professor of Greek literature at Harvard University 1815-1826; overseer of Harvard University 1827-1847, 1849-1854, and 1862-1865; elected to the Nineteenth and to the four succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1825-March 3, 1835); declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1834; chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs (Twentieth Congress); Governor of Massachusetts 1836-1840; appointed United States Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain 1841-1845; declined a diplomatic commission to China in 1843; president of Harvard University 1846-1849; appointed Secretary of State by President Millard Fillmore to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Daniel Webster and served from November 6, 1852, to March 3, 1853; elected as a Whig to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1853, until his resignation, effective June 1, 1854; unsuccessful candidate for vice president of the United States in 1860 on the Constitutional-Union ticket; died in Boston, Mass., January 15, 1865; interment in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Mass. --- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress


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Edward Everett, Governor, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State's Timeline

April 11, 1794
Dorchester, Massachusetts, United States
March 3, 1823
Boston, Mass.
August 13, 1825
December 24, 1827
May 6, 1830
January 30, 1833
December 31, 1834
October 10, 1839
Watertown, MA, United States