Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
Washburn, Israel, Jr. 1813-83
Israel Washburn Jr. (1813-1883), H1872, governor of Maine, was a member of the original Board of Trustees of Tufts College and later President of the Board. Washburn was honored with the degree of LL.D., in 1872.Three years later Washburn was offered the third Presidency of Tufts College.
Washburn turned down the offer. In fact, he wrote to the Board of Trustees before they voted. He had seen his name offered as a candidate and attempted to forestall the vote. Despite his protests, the Board persisted and elected him president. Citing lack of time and qualifications, he formally refused the honor. His attendance record at Board meetings supports his argument - he was almost never there. His refusal may have stemmed from the strenuous and taxing period more than a decade before when Washburn served as a war-time Governor.
It was a long road to the governorship. Born in Livermore, Maine, on June 6, 1813, Israel Washburn was the eldest of eleven children. He attended the common school before receiving several years of private instruction. A student of law, Washburn was admitted to the Penobscot bar in 1834, and opened his practice in Orono, Maine. In 1842 he was elected to the Maine House of Representatives, and performed ably for some years in that position. He failed to secure a post in Congress in 1848, but prevailed in the 1850 election as a Whig. He served in Congress from 1851 until 1861.At that time he was elected Governor on the Republican ticket, a party he had joined immediately upon its creation.
Worn out by his activities as Governor, in which capacity he had "outfitted regiment after regiment" of soldiers, he declined to run again. In gratitude, President Linclon appointed Washburn to the lucrative post of collector of the port of Portland, a position he held until 1877.In the years up until his death, Washburn was a popular lecturer, devoting proceeds to charitable organizations. Always active in literary pursuits, he was a member of the Maine Historical Society and published a memoir on Chief Justice Shepley, a volume of notes on Livermore, and a paper on the northeastern boundary question.
As all of the founding members of Tufts were, Washburn was an active and well-known Universalist. He was a stern supporter of the policy that the president of Tufts College live on campus, and he urged the construction of a church on school grounds. The fulfillment of the latter consideration, the dedication of Goddard Chapel in 1883, nearly coincided with the date of his death.
Israel Washburn Jr. died of an affliction of the heart on Saturday May 12, 1883, at the Lafayette Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Sources: TN; VF; LOH1