Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Fairfield, John

John Fairfield, courtesy Maine State Museum

John Fairfield, courtesy Maine State Museum

(1797-1847), a U.S. Representative and a Senator from Maine, was born in Saco on January 30, 1797, attended the Saco schools, Thornton Academy, and Bowdoin College.

He studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1826, and began his practice in Biddeford and Saco. Appointed a trustee of Thornton Academy in 1826, Fairfield served as president of its board of trustees from 1845 to 1847. He was a reporter of the State Supreme Court in 1832.

Elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Congresses, he served from March 4, 1835, to December 24, 1838, when he resigned, having been elected Governor. As a member of Congress in 1835, he petitioned that body to abolish slavery in Washington, D. C.

He served as Governor from 1839 to 1843, during the Aroostook War when Fort Fairfield was honored with his name. He later resigned, having been elected U.S. Senator as a Democrat to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Reuel Williams. He was reelected and served from March 3, 1843, until his death on December 24, 1847. While in the U.S. Senate, Fairfield served as chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs (Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth Congresses).

He died in Washington, D.C., apparently as the result of medical malpractice, with interment in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Saco.

Additional resources

Allen, Joseph Henry. The Public Man: A Discourse on Occasion of the Death of Hon. John Fairfield, Delivered in Washington, Dec. 28, 1847. Washington. T. Barnard, Printer. 1848. [University of Maine, Raymond H. Fogler Library, Special Collections]

Fairfield, John. The Letters of John Fairfield. Edited by Arthur B. Staples. Lewiston, Maine: Lewiston Journal Co., 1922.

Fairfield, John, 1797-1847. Governor Fairfield’s letters. (“six letters on matters intimately connected with the local history of Biddeford and Saco.” Biddeford, Me.: Biddeford Journal?, 1847?

Huot, Sallie S. John Fairfield: Man of Duty. Orono, Me.. 1988. (Thesis (M.A.) in History–University of Maine, 1988) [University of Maine, Raymond H. Fogler Library, Special Collections]

Maine Department of Education. Maine’s Claim to Fame: A Gallery of Personalities. 1990.

2003 Calendar of the Abolition of Slavery. Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. New York. 2003.

White, E. L. “Boundary March and Quick Step” [music]: repectfully dedicated to Gov. Fairfield and the defenders of the territory of Maine. Boston, Mass. C. Bradlee. 1840? [University of Maine at Presque Isle. Library and Learning Resource Center.]

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