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Philetus Sawyer (September 22, 1816 – March 29, 1900) was an American politician of the Republican Party who represented Wisconsin in both houses of Congress. Sawyer County, Wisconsin, is named for him.[1]

Philetus Sawyer
Philetus Sawyer - Brady-Handy.jpg
United States Senator
from Wisconsin
In office
March 4, 1881 – March 3, 1893
Preceded byAngus Cameron
Succeeded byJohn L. Mitchell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1873 – March 3, 1875
Preceded byJeremiah McLain Rusk
Succeeded byAlanson M. Kimball
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 5th district
In office
March 4, 1865 – March 3, 1873
Preceded byEzra Wheeler
Succeeded byCharles Augustus Eldredge
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the Winnebago 1st district
In office
January 9, 1861 – January 8, 1862
Preceded byGabriel Bouck
Succeeded byWilliam E. Hanson
In office
January 14, 1857 – January 13, 1858
Preceded byJohn Anunson
Succeeded bySamuel M. Hay
Personal details
Born(1816-09-22)September 22, 1816
Whiting, Vermont
DiedMarch 29, 1900(1900-03-29) (aged 83)
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Resting placeRiverside Cemetery
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Political partyRepublican
Melvina M. Hadley
(m. 1841; died 1888)
ChildrenEdgar Philetus
(b. 1842; died 1927)
Earl T.
(b. 1845; died 1848)
Ella E.
(b. 1849; died 1851)
Emma (White)
(b. 1856; died 1896)
Erna (Goodman)
(b. 1859; died 1943)
Sawyer's family mausoleum

Philetus Sawyer was born in 1816 in Whiting, Vermont, and moved to Crown Point, New York, as an infant in 1817. He moved to Wisconsin in 1847 and worked in the lumber industry. Sawyer's early political career included serving in the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1857 and 1861, and as mayor of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, from 1863 to 1864. He ran for and was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1864 and served for ten years from 1865 until 1875 being first elected to the 39th United States Congress. From 1865 till 1873 he was the representative of Wisconsin's 5th congressional district. However, for the 43rd Congress he redistricted and represented Wisconsin's 6th district. He did not run for reelection in 1874. Sawyer returned to Congress in 1881 as a U.S. Senator. He served two terms from 1881 to 1893 and did not seek a third. However, he became notorious for a charge made against him by Congressman Robert La Follette Sr. that he had attempted to bribe La Follette.[2]

Sawyer died in 1900 in Oshkosh at age 83. He was interred at a family mausoleum at Riverside Cemetery in Oshkosh.[3]


  1. ^ Sawyer county [origin of place name]
  2. ^ "Scenes from the Past" (PDF). The InTowner. 39 (9): 12. March 2008. Retrieved January 20, 2018.
  3. ^ Sawyer, Philetus 1816 - 1900

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