William Drew Washburn (brother of Israel Washburn, Jr., Elihu Benjamin Washburn, and Cadwallader Colden Washburn) was a U.S Representative and a U.S. Senator from Minnesota. (See more on the Washburn family at Norlands.)
William Washburn began his law practice in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he had settled early in 1857. He was appointed as United States surveyor general of Minnesota by President Abraham Lincoln 1861-1865, living in St. Paul while holding that office.
An unsuccessful candidate for the United States House of Representatives in 1864, Washburn returned to Minneapolis and engaged in the newspaper, railway, milling, and waterpower businesses. Several times a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, he was elected as a Republican to the Forty-sixth, Forty-seventh, and Forty-eighth Congresses (March 4, 1879-March 3, 1885)
Washburn was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1889, to March 3, 1895, serving as chairman of the Committee on the Improvement of the Mississippi River and its Tributaries (Fifty-first and Fifty-second Congresses).
An unsuccessful candidate for reelection, he resumed his manufacturing pursuits and engaged in railroad building.
William Drew Washburn died in Minneapolis, July 29, 1912, with interment in Lakewood Cemetery.