William A. Palmer, Governor, U.S. Senator

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William Adams Palmer

Birthplace: Hebron, Tolland, CT, USA
Death: Died in Danville, Caledonia, VT, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Stephen Palmer and Susannah Sawyer

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Immediate Family

About William A. Palmer, Governor, U.S. Senator


William Adams Palmer (September 12, 1781 – December 3, 1860) was an American politician, a lawyer, an Anti-Mason, thirteenth Governor of Vermont, and a US Senator from Vermont.


Palmer was born in Hebron, Connecticut. He was a descendant of Walter Palmer, part-founder of Charlestown, Massachusetts, and New London, Connecticut. During childhood, he lost part of one hand in an accident when he slipped and fell on ice while carrying an axe. He completed his elementary education in Hebron. He graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Law; moved to Chelsea, Vermont in 1802, studied law with Daniel Buck and was admitted to the bar in 1805. He married Sarah Chandler Blanchard of Danville in 1813, and the couple had seven children, five of whom survived to adulthood.


Palmer began to practice Law in Chelsea, Vermont and later moved to Danville. He was elected Probate Judge for Caledonia County from 1807 to 1808, and from 1811 to 1817. He was clerk of the court from 1807 to 1815, and a member of the Vermont House of Representatives from 1811 to 1812 and again in 1818. He was a judge of the Vermont Supreme Court from 1816 to 1818.

In 1818, Palmer was elected to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of James Fisk; was re-elected and served from October 20, 1818 until March 3, 1825; first as a Democratic-Republican and from 1823 as a National Republican. He then returned to the state House of Representatives and to the position of judge. He was also a delegate to the Vermont State Constitutional conventions in 1828, 1836, and 1850.

Palmer organized the first convention of Vermont's Anti-Masonic Party in Montpelier in 1829. He was elected Governor of Vermont in 1831 on the Anti-Masonic ticket and stayed in office until 1835. He proposed the 1833 law that any person administering a secret oath in any organization such as the Masons would be fined, and advocated the 1834 law to suspend the charter of Vermont's Grand Lodge. During his tenure, imprisonment of females for debt was abolished, fourteen new schools were established, seven new banks were chartered, and legislation was enacted to expand the railway system.

Palmer retired to his farm, but continued to be politically active and was a member of the Vermont State Senate from 1836 to 1837. He remained actively farming until shortly before his death.


Palmer died on December 3, 1860 in Danville, and is interred in Danville Green Cemetery.

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William A. Palmer, Governor, U.S. Senator's Timeline

September 12, 1781
Hebron, Tolland, CT, USA
December 3, 1860
Age 79
Danville, Caledonia, VT, USA