Charles Paine

Charles Paine (April 15, 1799 – July 6, 1853) was an American Whig politician, woolen mill owner, merchant, railroad builder, and the 15th governor of Vermont.

Charles Paine
Official Vermont State House portrait
15th Governor of Vermont
In office
October 15, 1841 – October 13, 1843
LieutenantWaitstill R. Ranney
Preceded bySilas H. Jennison
Succeeded byJohn Mattocks
Member of the Vermont House of Representatives
In office
Preceded byJohn Starkweather
Succeeded byLebbeus Bennett
Personal details
Born(1799-04-15)April 15, 1799
Williamstown, Vermont
DiedJuly 6, 1853(1853-07-06) (aged 54)
Waco, Texas
Resting placeElmwood Cemetery, Northfield, Vermont
Political partyWhig
Domestic partnerLorinda Stevens
Alma materHarvard College


Paine was the son of Elijah Paine and Sarah (Porter) Paine, and was born in Williamstown, Vermont. He graduated from Harvard University in 1820,[1][2] and became active in several business ventures. Though he never married, he had two children.[3]


Paine moved to Northfield, Vermont in the early part of the nineteenth century to run the family woolen mill. He operated this business until it was destroyed by fire in 1848. He had various other business interests including a hotel and a store, but he is most often remembered as the individual who brought railroads to Vermont. He founded the Vermont Central Railroad and served as the first president of the company.[4]

In Northfield, Paine held the offices of Town Selectman and Moderator of the Town Meeting. In his political life he was a member of the Vermont House of Representatives from 1828 through 1829. He was the 15th Governor of Vermont from 1841 until 1843. During his tenure, a stricter accounting of public funds was established.[5]

As the founder and president of the Vermont Central Railroad Paine built its headquarters in his home town of Northfield, despite the hilly terrain, earning the enmity of residents of larger, more accessible nearby towns. In the extensive yard, engines and railroad cars were built and repaired.[6] In 1853 the Vermont Central Railroad went into bankruptcy due to overexpansion and, in some cases, mismanagement. The railroad was placed under receivership and renamed the Central Vermont Railroad. Its headquarters were moved to St. Albans.


Paine died in Waco, Texas after three weeks of dysentery while helping the Southern Pacific Railroad choose a route. He is interred at Elmwood Cemetery, Northfield, Washington County, Vermont.[7] The home of the former governor, 75 South Main Street, Northfield, Vermont, is where the Northfield Historical Society is housed, connected to the Brown Public Library of the town.[8]


  1. ^ Porcellian Club of Harvard University (1857). Catalogue of the Porcellian Club of Harvard University. Cambridge, MA: Allen and Farnham. p. 32.
  2. ^ Harvard University (1900). Quinquennial Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates of Harvard University. Cambridge, MA: John Wilson and Son. p. 144.
  3. ^ "Charles Paine". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  4. ^ "Charles Paine". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  5. ^ "Charles Paine". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  6. ^ "Charles Paine". Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  7. ^ "Charles Paine". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  8. ^ "Charles Paine". Northfield Historical Society. Retrieved October 31, 2012.

Further readingEdit

  • New England Puritan (published in Boston), Thursday, August 4, 1853

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by Whig nominee for Governor of Vermont
1841, 1842
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by