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William Drew Washburn (January 14, 1831 – July 29, 1912) was an Americanmarker politician. He served in both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate as a Republican from Minnesotamarker. Three of his seven brothers became politicians: Elihu B. Washburne, Cadwallader C. Washburn, and Israel Washburn, Jr. He was also cousin of Dorilus Morrison, the first mayor of Minneapolis. He served in the 46th, 47th, 48th, 51st, 52nd, and 53rd congresses.

Washburn was born in Livermore, Mainemarker. A graduate of Bowdoin Collegemarker, he first studied law in the office of John A. Peters in Bangor, Mainemarker before moving to Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker around 1857. There he practiced law, and worked for the Minneapolis Milling Company (founded by his brother Cadwallader). His business ventures in lumber and flour milling allowed him to amass a large fortune, and by the 1880s, he was among the wealthiest men in Minnesota. Washburn served as the first president from 1883 to 1889 of what was to become Soo Line Railroad.. He also founded the Pillsbury-Washburn Milling Company, which later became the Pillsbury Company, and was eventually absorbed by his brother's firm, General Mills.

Washburn built a mansion known as "Fair Oaks" in 1883. It was designed by E. Townsend Mix, who also designed Minneapolis's Metropolitan Buildingmarker, and the outdoor landscape was laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted. The grounds included an artificial stream leading to a pond, a rustic footbridge, a greenhouse, and a carriage house. The home was demolished in 1924 to make way for a park, although the region is now part of the Washburn-Fair Oaks Mansion Districtmarker, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1878 and served from March 4, 1879 to March 3, 1885. He was elected to the Senate in 1888 and served from March 4, 1889 to March 3, 1895.

Washburn was a founder of the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis in 1859. A major benefactor, he served as a trustee and President for much of his remaining life. He died in Minneapolis in 1912. His grandson C. Langhorne Washburn was to be active in the Republican Party from the 1950s through the 1970s.

External links


  1. Progressive Men of Minnesota (Minneapolis, 1897), p. 81

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