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Charles T. Gorham, U.S. Minister to the Netherlands

Charles T. Gorham (May 29, 1812 – March 11, 1901) was a Michigan banker and diplomat. He was one of the founders of the Republican Party, an anti-slavery activist and a Major General and division commander in the Michigan Militia during the years immediately preceding the American Civil War. After the war he served as United States Ambassador to the Netherlands and Assistant Secretary of the Interior.

Life and career

Charles Truesdell Gorham was born in Danbury, Connecticut on May 29, 1812. He was raised in Oneonta, New York and trained for a business career.[1]

In 1836 Gorham moved to Marshall, Michigan where he was a merchant. In 1840 he started a bank, which he operated privately until 1865. That year he incorporated the institution as the First National Bank of Marshall, and he served as President until retiring in 1898.[2][3]

Originally a Democrat and later a Whig, Gorham was one of the founders of the Republican party when it was organized in the mid-1850s. In 1855 he was appointed Major General and commander of one of three divisions in the state militia, and in 1859 he was elected to one term in the Michigan State Senate. Gorham used both positions to recruit, train, and reorganize the militia in anticipation of the Civil War. He was a Delegate to the Republican National Conventions of 1864 and 1868, and served as a Presidential elector from Michigan in 1868, casting votes for the ticket of Ulysses S. Grant and Schuyler Colfax.[4][5][6]

An anti-slavery activist and participant in the Underground Railroad, Gorham was one of the principals in the Crosswhite Affair, in which several individuals from Kentucky attempted to capture an African American family in Marshall and return them to slavery in Kentucky. More than 200 individuals from Marshall led by Gorham prevented this act. The Crosswhite Affair was the subject of several criminal and civil court cases, and was one of the events that led to passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.[7]

From 1870 to 1875 Gorahm served as Minister to the Netherlands.[8] He served as Assistant Secretary of the Interior from March, 1876 to April, 1877, afterwards returning to his banking interests in Marshall.[9][10]

Gorham retired in 1898. He died in Marshall on March 11, 1901.[11] Gorham was buried in Marshall's Oakridge Cemetery.[12]

Charles T. Gorham was married to Charlotte Eaton Hart of Durham, New York on April 10, 1839. They had two sons and one daughter—Selden H., Charles E. and Isabella.[13][14][15]


  1. American Historical Society, American Biography: A New Cyclopedia, Volume 43, 1930, page 82
  2. Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, Historical Collections, Volume 31, 1902, pages 27 to 30
  3. Debbie Pardoe, Susan Collins, Marshall, 2008, page 34
  4. Western Publishing Co., American Biographical History of Eminent and Self and Self-Made Men of the State of Michigan, 1878, page 331
  5. Michigan Historical Commission, Michigan Historical Collections, Volume 31, 1902, pages 28 to 30
  6. "The Political Graveyard: Michigan Presidential Electors, 1868". Retrieved September 14, 2013. 
  7. Carol E. Mull, The Underground Railroad in Michigan, 2010, pages 107 to 110
  8. Detroit Free Press, The Mission to the Netherlands, July 17, 1875
  9. Chapman Bros., Calhoun County Portrait and Biographical Album, 1891, pages 191 to 192
  10. Detroit Free Press, Washington: Charles T. Gorham of Michigan Appointed Assistant Secretary of the Interior, March 3, 1876
  11. New York Times, Death List of a Day: C. T. Gorham, March 13, 1901
  12. Charles T. Marshall at Find A Grave
  13. James T. White & Company, The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume 7, 1897, page 549
  14. Western Publishing and Engraving Co., Cyclopedia of Michigan, Historical and Biographical, 1900, pages 325 to 326
  15. American Historical Company, American Biography: A New Cyclopedia, Volume 43, 1930, page 85
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Joseph P. Root
U.S. Minister to the Netherlands
Succeeded by
Francis B. Stockbridge

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