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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 725


This is the grave of Elijah Mills.

Born in 1776 in Chesterfield, Massachusetts, Mills grew up pretty wealthy and graduated from Williams College in 1797. He passed the bar and started practicing law in Northampton, Massachusetts. He rose in the legal world of Massachusetts and became district attorney for Hampshire County and then opened his own law school in Northampton in 1823. By that time he was a rising political figure in the state. He was elected to the Massachusetts House in 1811 and served there through 1814. A Federalist, he was elected to Congress that year and went to Washington in 1815. He served two terms and returned to the Massachusetts House, where he became Speaker in 1820. But when Prentiss Mellen resigned from the Senate, Mills was named to replace him. He won a full term, but in 1826, his opponents controlled the Massachusetts legislature and he was not returned to Washington. Daniel Webster sort of played with him a bit at this time, claiming to approve of sending Mills back to Washington but also saying that, welp, his health just wasn’t up to it and maybe Massachusetts should find someone else. And who should be that person to replace him? Daniel Webster!

But Mills was indeed already pretty ill by that time and he died in 1829, at the age of 52.

I’d like to say more about Mills, but as one historian described him in passing, he was “reliable but colorless.” The Gary Peters of his day. And let’s face it, there’s lots of minor political figures of the early 19th century who deserve a grave visit but who are not necessarily that memorable.

Elijah Mills is buried in Bridge Street Cemetery, Northampton, Massachusetts.

If you would like this series to visit other senators who were elected in 1820, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. James DeWolf is in Bristol, Rhode Island and James Noble is in Washington, D.C. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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