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Alvin Saunders
United States Senator
from Nebraska

In office
March 4, 1877 – March 3, 1883
Preceded by Phineas Hitchcock
Succeeded by Charles F. Manderson
10th Governor of Nebraska Territory

In office
May 15, 1861 – February 21, 1867
President Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson
Preceded by Algernon S. Paddock
Succeeded by David Butler (as Governor of the State of Nebraska)
Member of the Iowa Senate

In office
1854-1856, 1858-1860
Personal details
Born (1817-07-12)July 12, 1817
Fleming County, Kentucky
Died November 1, 1899(1899-11-01) (aged 82)
Omaha, Nebraska
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Political party Republican

Alvin Saunders (July 12, 1817 – November 1, 1899) was a U.S. Senator from Nebraska, as well as the final and longest-serving governor of the Nebraska Territory, a tenure he served during most of the American Civil War.


Saunders was born in Fleming County, Kentucky. He attended the common schools and pursued an academic course; he moved with his father to Illinois in 1829 and then to Mount Pleasant, Iowa (then a part of Wisconsin Territory) in 1836.

Political career

He was the postmaster of Mount Pleasant for seven years. Saunders studied law but never entered into practice; instead, he engaged in mercantile pursuits and banking. He was a delegate to the Iowa State constitutional convention in 1846 and was a member of the Iowa State Senate from 1854 to 1856 and 1858 to 1860. Saunders was one of the commissioners appointed by Congress to organize the Union Pacific Railroad Company.

He served as the last Governor of Nebraska Territory from 1861 to 1867. He was a delegate to the 1868 Republican National Convention. Saunders was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served a single term from March 4, 1877, to March 3, 1883; chairman of the Committee on Territories (Forty-seventh Congress). He died in Omaha on November 1, 1899; interment in Forest Lawn Cemetery.


Saunders' father, Gunnel, was said to be of "old stock" in Culpepper County, Virginia. His mother was Mary Mauzy of the same county. They moved to Kentucky and later to Illinois, where Alvin attended school and did farm work until 1836, when the young man removed to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, which was then part of Wisconsin.[1]

At his death he left a wife and two children, Charles B., and a daughter, Mary (later Mrs. Russell Harrison of Washington, D.C.)[1][2][3]

Saunders was the grandfather of William Henry Harrison, who served several terms as Wyoming's member of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1950s and 60s. His son-in-law was Russell Benjamin Harrison.


Saunders County, Nebraska and Saunders School in Omaha were both named after him. Alvin Saunders Johnson, the founding editor of The New Republic, was named in honor of Saunders.[4]


  1. "The Political Graveyard". Saunders, Alvin. 
  2. "Congressional Bioguide". Saunders, Alvin. 

  • Alvin Saunders at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
Political offices
Preceded by
Algernon S. Paddock
Acting Territorial Governor
Governor of Nebraska Territory
Succeeded by
position abolished
United States Senate
Preceded by
Phineas W. Hitchcock
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Nebraska
Served alongside: Algernon S. Paddock, Charles H. Van Wyck
Succeeded by
Charles F. Manderson

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