George Evans (American politician)

George Evans (January 12, 1797 – April 6, 1867) was an American lawyer and politician from the state of Maine. A member of the United States Whig Party, he served in both houses of the United States Congress and as Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.

George Evans
Senator George Evans of Maine.jpg
United States Senator
from Maine
In office
March 4, 1841 – March 3, 1847
Preceded byJohn Ruggles
Succeeded byJames W. Bradbury
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maine's 4th district
In office
July 20, 1829 – March 3, 1841
Preceded byPeleg Sprague
Succeeded byDavid Bronson
Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives
In office
1829-1830
Preceded byJohn Ruggles
Succeeded byDaniel Goodenow
Member of the Maine House of Representatives
In office
1826-1830
Personal details
Born(1797-01-12)January 12, 1797
Hallowell, Massachusetts (now Maine)
DiedApril 6, 1867(1867-04-06) (aged 70)
Portland, Maine
Resting placeOak Grove Cemetery, Gardiner, Maine
Political partyNational Republican
Whig
Alma materBowdoin College

Early life and careerEdit

Evans was born in Hallowell, Massachusetts (now in Maine) where he grew up. He graduated from Bowdoin College where he had been a prominent member of the Peucinian Society. He studied law with Frederic Allen of Gardiner, and settled there to practice.

He was elected to the Maine House of Representatives and served from 1826 to 1830; from 1829 to 1830 he was the Speaker of the House.

Tenure in CongressEdit

In 1829, he was elected to a seat in the United States House of Representatives in a special election called after Peleg Sprague resigned to take a seat in the United States Senate. Evans served in the House from 1829 to 1841. He served as chairman of the committee on expenditures of the department of the treasury from 1829 to 1831.

In 1841, Evans resigned from the House to take a seat in the United States Senate. He served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Manufactures from 1841 to 1843, chairman of the Committee on Finance from 1841 to 1845 and chairman of the Committee on Territories from 1845 to 1847. James G. Blaine later wrote of Evans's renown in, among other things, matters of finance:

Upon entering the Senate, he [Evans] was complimented with a distinction never before or since conferred on a new member. He was placed at the head of the Committee on Finance, taking rank above the long list of prominent Whigs, who then composed the majority in the chamber. The tenacity with which the rights of seniority are usually maintained by senators enhances the value of the compliment to Mr. Evans. Mr. Clay, who had been serving as chairman of the committee, declined in his favor with the remark that "Mr. Evans knew more about the finances than any other public man in the United States."[1]

Evans served in the Senate until 1847 when he was defeated in an attempt to be reelected to a second term.

Career after CongressEdit

Evans then practiced law in Portland, Maine and continued to be involved in politics. From 1849 to 1850, he served as chairman of the commission that determined and settled the financial claims of U.S. citizens against Mexico; the United States had assumed these claims under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo following the Mexican–American War. He also served as Maine Attorney General during the 1850s.

Slave ownershipEdit

According to research conducted in 2022 by The Washington Post, Evans owned at least one slave during his lifetime. He was identified as the only member of Congress from Maine to have owned a human being.[2]

DeathEdit

He died in Portland, Maine and is buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Gardiner, Maine.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Blaine, James Gillespie, Twenty Years of Congress, Vol. 1, Ch. 4.
  2. ^ Zauzmer Weil, Julie; Blanco, Adrian; Dominguez, Leo (January 10, 2022). "More than 1,700 congressmen once enslaved Black people. This is who they were, and how they shaped the nation". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 19, 2022.
Legal offices
Preceded by Maine Attorney General
1853–1854
Succeeded by
Preceded by Maine Attorney General
1856
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maine's 4th congressional district

July 20, 1829 – March 3, 1841 (obsolete district)
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. senator (Class 2) from Maine
1841–1847
Served alongside: Reuel Williams, John Fairfield
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Clay
Kentucky
Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance
1841–1845
Succeeded by
Levi Woodbury
New Hampshire