Asahel Peck

Asahel Peck (September 1803 – May 18, 1879) was an American lawyer, politician, and judge. He is most notable for his service as an Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court (1859–1874) and the 35th Governor of Vermont from 1874 to 1876.

Asahel Peck
Asahel Peck.jpg
35th Governor of Vermont
In office
October 8, 1874 – October 5, 1876
LieutenantLyman G. Hinckley
Preceded byJulius Converse
Succeeded byHorace Fairbanks
Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court
In office
Preceded byIsaac F. Redfield
Succeeded byH. Henry Powers
Judge of the Vermont Circuit Court
In office
Preceded byNone (position created)
Succeeded byNone (position eliminated)
Personal details
BornSeptember 1803 (1803-09)
Royalston, Massachusetts
DiedMay 18, 1879 (1879-05-19) (aged 75)
Jericho, Vermont
Resting placeHinesburg Village Cemetery, Hinesburg, Vermont
Political partyDemocratic (before 1855)
Alma materUniversity of Vermont

A native of Royalston, Massachusetts, Peck was raised and educated in Montpelier, Vermont. He attended the University of Vermont, studied law, and attained admission to the bar in 1832. Peck practiced in Burlington, Montpelier, and Jericho, and gained a reputation as a skilled trial attorney.

Initially a Democrat, and later a Republican, Peck served as a Judge of the Vermont Circuit Court from 1851 to 1857. In 1860 he was elected to the Vermont Senate, where he served from October to November. He resigned in November to accept appointment an Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court, and he served until 1874. In 1874, Peck was the successful Republican candidate for governor, and he served two years, 1874 to 1876.

After leaving the governorship, Peck retired to a home in Hinesburg, where he had moved to live closer to members of his family. He died in Jericho in 1879, and was buried at Hinesburg Village Cemetery in Hinesburg.


Peck was born in Royalston, Massachusetts in September 1803, the son of Squire Peck and Elizabeth (Goddard) Peck.[1] He moved to Montpelier, Vermont with his family at the age of three, and was raised on his family's farm.[2] Peck was educated at Hinesburg Academy and Washington County Grammar School, and attended the University of Vermont.[3] He left college in his senior year so he could study in Quebec, and became fluent in French.[3] Afterwards, Peck studied law in Hinesburg with his brother Nahum and at a Montpelier law firm, and attained admission to the bar in 1832.[3] (In 1876 the University of Vermont declared Peck a regular graduate and awarded him his Bachelor of Arts degree.[4])


A lifelong bachelor, Peck lived in Burlington, Montpelier, and on a farm in Jericho while practicing law.[5] He served as a Circuit Judge from 1851 until 1857, when the Circuit Court system was abolished.[3] He served in the Vermont Senate briefly in 1860, but resigned to accept appointment as an Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court, filling the vacancy created when Chief Justice Isaac F. Redfield retired, and Associate Justice Luke P. Poland succeeded him.[3] The other Associate Justices each advanced one step in seniority, with Peck chosen to fill the resulting vacancy.[3]

Originally a Democrat, Peck switched to the Republican Party when it was organized in the mid-1850s as the major anti-slavery party.[3] He resigned from the Supreme Court when he was selected as the Republican nominee for governor in 1874. He was elected, and he served until 1876.[3] As governor, he sought to improve conditions in the state's prisons and supported the establishment of workhouses for minor offenders. During his administration, the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction was created and a joint resolution was passed favoring the formation of a waterway to connect the St. Lawrence River with the Great Lakes.[6]

After leaving office he returned to his farm and law practice in Jericho, Vermont.[3] He worked until he retired to a home in Hinesburg, where he had moved to be near family members.[7]

Death and legacyEdit

Peck died in Jericho on May 18, 1879.[8] He is interred at Hinesburg Village Cemetery, Hinesburg, Vermont.[9] Governor Peck Road in the towns of Richmond and Jericho is named for him.

In 1872 Middlebury College awarded Peck an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, and in 1874 the University of Vermont awarded Peck an honorary Master of Arts degree.[10][11]


  1. ^ Capace, Nancy (January 1, 2000). "Encyclopedia of Vermont". Somerset Publishers, Inc. – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Hemingway, Abby Maria (1882). The History of the Town of Montpelier, Including that of the Town of East Montpelier, for the First One Hundred and Two Years. Montpelier, VT: A. M. Hemingway. pp. 495–497.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i The History of the Town of Montpelier, pp. 495-497.
  4. ^ University of Vermont Obituary Record, published by the University, Volume 1, 1895, pages 50 to 51.
  5. ^ Men of Vermont Illustrated, edited by Jacob G. Ullery, 1894, pages 100 to 101
  6. ^ "Asahel Peck". National Governors Association. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  7. ^ Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont, edited by Hiram Carleton, 1903, pages 700 to 701
  8. ^ "Proceedings of the New England Historic Genealogical Society at the Annual Meeting". The Society. March 31, 1873 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Gazetteer and Business Directory of Chittenden County, Vermont for 1882–83, compiled by Hamilton Child (Syracuse), 1882, page 211
  10. ^ Memorial Biographies of New England Historic Genealogical Society, published by the society, Volume 7, 1907, pages 327 to 328
  11. ^ Catalogue of Officers and Students of Middlebury College, published by the college, 1917, pages 488 to 489

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Julius Converse
Republican nominee for Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Horace Fairbanks
Political offices
Preceded by
Julius Converse
Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Horace Fairbanks