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Nelson W. Aldrich papers

Biographical note

Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich, (father of Richard Steere Aldrich, cousin of William Aldrich, grandfather of Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, and great-grandfather of John Davison Rockefeller), was a Representative and a Senator from Rhode Island; born in Foster, R.I., November 6, 1841. Aldrich attended the public schools of East Killingly, Conn., and the Academy of East Greenwich, R.I.;

In 1862, during the Civil War, Aldrich enlisted as a private in Company D, First Regiment, Rhode Island National Guard. After the war he entered the wholesale grocery business in Providence, RI. In 1869 he was elected as a member of the Providence city council serving until 1874; served as president in 1872 and 1873. Elected as a member of the State house of representatives in 1875 and 1876, elected speaker in 1876.

Aldrich was elected as a Republican to the Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh Congresses and served from March 4, 1879, to October 4, 1881, when he resigned to become Senator. Elected to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Ambrose E. Burnside. He was reelected in 1886, 1892, 1898, and 1904, and served from October 5, 1881, to March 3, 1911. He was not a candidate for reelection in 1911.

Aldrich served as chairman of the Committee on Transportation Routes to the Seaboard (Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth Congresses), Committee on Rules (Fiftieth through Fifty-second, Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Congresses), Select Committee on Corporations Organized in the District of Columbia (Fifty-third Congress), Committee on Finance (Fifty-fifth through Sixty-first Congresses); chairman, National Monetary Commission (1908-1912).

He retired to Providence, R.I. and passed away in New York City, April 16, 1915. He is interred in Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, R.I.


Biographical Directory of the United States Congress "ALDRICH, Nelson Wilmarth, (1841 - 1915)".

American National Biography.

Stephenson, Nathaniel W. Nelson W. Aldrich, a leader in American politics. 1971. New York: Kennikat Press, 1971.

Sternstein, Jerome L. “Corruption in the Gilded Age Senate: Nelson W. Aldrich and the Sugar Trust.” Capitol Studies 6 (Spring 1978): 13-37. (Copy on file)