Samuel Dexter, US Senator, Sec'y Treasury & Sec'y of War

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Samuel William Dexter, Jr.

Birthdate: (54)
Birthplace: Boston, MA, USA
Death: May 4, 1816 (54)
Boston, MA, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Samuel Dexter and Hannah Dexter
Husband of Catherine Dexter
Father of Samuel William Dexter
Brother of Andrew Dexter, Sr.

Managed by: Private User
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About Samuel Dexter, US Senator, Sec'y Treasury & Sec'y of War

Samuel Dexter (May 14, 1761 – May 4, 1816) was an early American statesman who served both in Congress and in the Presidential Cabinet.


Born in Boston, Massachusetts, to the Rev. Samuel Dexter, the 4th minister of Dedham, he graduated from Harvard University in 1781 and then studied law at Worcester under Levi Lincoln, Sr., the future Attorney General of the United States. After he passed the bar in 1784, he began practicing in Lunenburg, Massachusetts.

He was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives and served 1788 to 1790. He was elected to the 3rd Congress by way of the United States House of Representatives and then elected as Federalist to the United States Senate. In December 1799, he memorably wrote the memorial eulogy to George Washington upon the first president's death. His house in Dedham stands to today.

He served for less than a year as he was appointed United States Secretary of War by President John Adams in 1800. During his time at this station he urged congressional action to permit appointment and compensation of field officers for general staff duty.

Upon Secretary of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Jr.'s resignation in December 1800, Adams appointed Dexter as interim Secretary. He then briefly conducted the affairs of the War Office. He administered the oath of office to Chief Justice John Marshall, and later declined the ambassadorship to Spain.

He returned to Boston in 1805 and resumed the practice of law. He left the Federalist party to espouse Republican views on the War of 1812, and he was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Massachusetts in 1814 and 1815. He was an ardent supporter of the temperance movement and presided over its first formal organization in Massachusetts.

He died on May 4, 1816 shortly before his 55th birthday and is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Simon Newton Dexter was his nephew.

Samuel W. Dexter, founder of Dexter, Michigan, was his son.


The USRC Dexter (1830) was named in his honor.

US Congressman, Senator, Presidential Cabinet Secretary. Elected to Represent MA’s 1st District in the United States House of Representatives, serving from 1793 to 1795. Elected as a Senator from Massachusetts in the United States Senate, serving from 1799 to 1800, when he resigned to accept a Cabinet appointment in the administration of President John Adams. Served as Secretary of War in 1800 and as Secretary of the Treasury in 1801. He unsuccessfully ran for Massachusetts Governor in 1816, shortly before he died.

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Samuel Dexter, US Senator, Sec'y Treasury & Sec'y of War's Timeline

May 14, 1761
Boston, MA, USA
February 18, 1792
Age 30
May 4, 1816
Age 54
Boston, MA, USA