Term: Durkee, Charles 1805 - 1870
politician, Congressman, U.S. Senator, governor of Utah Terr., b. Royalton, Vt. He was educated at Burlington Academy, Vt. In 1836 he moved to Wisconsin, settling in Southport (now Kenosha) where he became a civic leader, Methodist Church worker, temperance and abolitionist leader, and an active promoter of the development of Kenosha harbor. He served in the lower house of the Wisconsin territorial legislature (1836-1838) and from 1844 to 1846 played a prominent role in the Wisconsin Liberty party. Elected to Congress in 1848 as a Free Soil candidate, he was re-elected in 1850, serving from March, 1849, to March, 1853. In Congress he worked for the abolitionist movement and for harbor improvements at Racine and Kenosha. In 1849 he was a delegate to the World Peace Conference in Paris. When the Republican party was organized, Durkee became a member, and in 1855 was chosen by the state legislature as U.S. Senator (serving Mar. 1855-Mar. 1861). In the Senate he again aligned himself with the abolitionist faction of the Republican party. Durkee was appointed territorial governor of Utah in 1865, and in this capacity followed a conciliatory policy toward the Mormons and also made investments in Nevada mines and Union Pacific R.R. stock. In 1870, in ill health, he left Utah for Wisconsin, but died en route. Biog. Dir. Amer. Cong. (1928); Colls. State Hist. Soc. Wis., 6 (1872); Proc. State Hist. Soc. Wis., 1894 (1895); WPA MS.
The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the Charles Durkee Papers for details.
View a biographical sketch of Durkee at Wisconsin Historical Collections.
View newspaper clippings at Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles.
[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]