Alpheus Felch

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Alpheus Felch
Alpheus Felch.jpg
United States Senator
from Michigan
In office
March 4, 1847 – March 4, 1853
Preceded byWilliam Woodbridge
Succeeded byCharles E. Stuart
5th Governor of Michigan
In office
January 5, 1846 – March 3, 1847
LieutenantWilliam L. Greenly
Preceded byJohn S. Barry
Succeeded byWilliam L. Greenly
Michigan Auditor General
In office
GovernorJohn S. Barry
Preceded byEurotus P. Hastings
Succeeded byHenry L. Whipple
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1804-09-28)September 28, 1804
Limerick, Massachusetts
(now Limerick, Maine)
DiedJune 13, 1896(1896-06-13) (aged 91)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Lucretia W. Lawrence, 4 children
Alma materBowdoin College

Alpheus Felch (September 28, 1804 – June 13, 1896) was the fifth Governor of Michigan and U.S. Senator from Michigan.

Early life[edit]

Felch was born in Limerick (in modern-day Maine, then a part of Massachusetts). He was left an orphan at the age of three and lived with his grandfather Abijah Felch, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War. He attended the Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire and graduated from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine in 1827. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in Bangor, Maine[1] and practiced in Houlton, Maine from 1830 to 1833.

Political career[edit]

Felch moved to Monroe, Michigan in 1833 and continued the practice of law. In 1835 he was the aid-de-camp to General Joseph Brown during the mustering of troops for the Ohio-Michigan Boundary Dispute (the Toledo War). He was elected three times to the Michigan State House of Representatives, serving from 1835 to 1837. He was appointed state bank commissioner in 1838 and resigned in 1839. As bank commissioner, he did much to expose frauds which had been made possible by a general "wild-cat" banking law which he had opposed, and which was afterward declared unconstitutional by the Michigan Supreme Court.[1] He was state auditor general for a few weeks in 1842 before being appointed associate justice of the Michigan Supreme Court in 1842, where he served until his resignation in 1845, after being elected governor. He served as Governor of Michigan from 1846 to 1847 and during those fourteen months, state statutes were amended and the state capital was relocated to Lansing.

Felch resigned as governor on March 3, 1847 after being elected by the Michigan legislature as a Democrat to the United States Senate. He served in the 30th, 31st and 32nd Congresses, from March 4, 1847, to March 4, 1853. In the U.S. Senate, he was chairman of the committee on public lands for four years.[1]

In March 1853, he was appointed by U.S. President Franklin Pierce to the land claims commission for California to settle Spanish and Mexican land claims arising from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican–American War and served as president of the commission until 1856. He returned to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan that year and made an unsuccessful attempt at a non-consecutive term as Governor against the Republican incumbent Kinsley S. Bingham. He resumed his law career and served as the Tappan Professor of Law at the University of Michigan from 1879 to 1883.

Death and legacy[edit]

Felch grave

He died in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the age of 91, and is there interred at Forest Hill Cemetery.

Alpheus Felch is the namesake of Felch Township, Michigan.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1900). "Felch, Alpheus" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  2. ^ Daly, Matthew L.; Herman, Jennifer L.; Hannan, Caryn (December 1, 2008). Michigan Encyclopedia. North American Book Dist LLC. p. 268. ISBN 978-1-878592-94-1.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Eurotus P. Hastings
Michigan Auditor General
Succeeded by
Henry L. Whipple
Preceded by
John S. Barry
Governor of Michigan
Succeeded by
William L. Greenly
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
William Woodbridge
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Michigan
Served alongside: Lewis Cass, Thomas Fitzgerald, Lewis Cass
Succeeded by
Charles E. Stuart
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Simon Cameron
Most Senior Living U.S. Senator
(Sitting or Former)

with James W. Bradbury

June 26, 1889 – June 13, 1896
Succeeded by
James W. Bradbury