Historical records matching William Eustis, Governor, 6th U.S. Secretary of War
About William Eustis, Governor, 6th U.S. Secretary of War
William Eustis' (June 10, 1753 – February 6, 1825) was an early American physician, politician, and statesman from Massachusetts. Trained in medicine, he served as a military surgeon during the American Revolutionary War, notably at the Battle of Bunker Hill. He resumed medical practice after the war, but soon entered politics.
After several terms in the state legislature, Eustis won election to the United States Congress in 1800, serving as a moderate Democratic-Republican. He briefly returned to state politics after losing reelection in 1804, and was chosen to be Secretary of War in 1809 by President James Madison. Due in part to his inexperience at managing the army and a lack of preparedness, the military failures in the early months of the War of 1812 were laid on his shoulders, leading to his resignation.
Madison then appointed Eustis Minister to the Netherlands, a post he held from 1814 until 1818. After another period in Congress, he was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 1822. A popular successor to long-serving John Brooks, Eustis died in office in 1825. His Boston mansion, built in the 1750s by royal governor William Shirley, is known as the Shirley-Eustis House and is a National Historic Landmark
William Eustis (June 10, 1753 – February 6, 1825) was an early American statesman.
He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and studied at the Boston Latin School before he entered Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1772. He studied medicine under Dr. Joseph Warren and helped care for the wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill, where Warren was killed. He served the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War as surgeon of the artillery regiment at Cambridge and then as a hospital surgeon.
He entered medical practice in Boston after the war and served as surgeon with the Shays' Rebellion expedition of 1786–1787.
He became vice president of the Society of the Cincinnati, serving from 1786 to 1810 and again in 1820.
He served in the Massachusetts General Court from 1788 to 1794 and was a member of the Governor's Council for two years. Following this he served two terms in the United States House of Representatives from 1801 to 1804, representing Massachusetts in the 7th and 8th Congresses, and having won close races over Josiah Quincy III and John Quincy Adams. While in the House he was one of the managers appointed by the House of Representatives in 1804 to conduct the impeachment proceedings against John Pickering, judge of the United States District Court for New Hampshire.
He served as United States Secretary of War from March 7, 1809 to January 13, 1813. During his tenure, he attempted to prepare the U.S. Army for the outbreak of the War of 1812, and resigned in the face of criticism following American reversal on the battlefield.
He was appointed minister of the United States to the Netherlands by President James Madison, serving from 1814 to 1818.
He returned home from Europe because of ill health, at which time he purchased and resided in the historic Shirley-Eustis House in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He was again elected to the United States House of Representatives and served 1820 to 1823, presiding as chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Military Affairs during this time. He ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Massachusetts three times (in 1820, 1821 and 1822) and was finally elected governor and served two terms, from 1823 to 1825.
He died in Boston while governor in February 1825 and is buried at the Old Burying Ground, in Lexington, Massachusetts.