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Samuel Prentiss
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont
In office
April 8, 1842 – January 15, 1857
Appointed by John Tyler
Preceded by Elijah Paine
Succeeded by David Allen Smalley
United States Senator
from Vermont
In office
March 4, 1831 – April 11, 1842
Preceded by Dudley Chase
Succeeded by Samuel C. Crafts
Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court
In office
Preceded by Richard Skinner
Succeeded by Titus Hutchinson
Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court
In office
Preceded by Joel Doolittle
Succeeded by Titus Hutchinson
Member of the Vermont House of Representatives
In office
Preceded by Araunah Waterman
Succeeded by William Upham
Personal details
Born (1782-03-31)March 31, 1782
Stonington, Connecticut, U.S.
Died January 15, 1857(1857-01-15) (aged 74)
Montpelier, Vermont, U.S.
Political party Federalist
National Republican
Spouse(s) Lucretia Houghton Prentiss
Children 12
Profession Lawyer

Samuel Prentiss (March 31, 1782 – January 15, 1857) was a Vermont attorney, judge, and politician. He served as a Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court, a United States Senator from Vermont and later a United States federal judge.

Early life[edit]

Prentiss was born in Stonington, Connecticut on March 31, 1782.[1] The fourth in his family to be named Samuel Prentiss, he was the son of Lucretia (Holmes) Prentiss and Samuel Prentiss III (1759-1818), a physician who served as an army surgeon during the American Revolution.[1][2] His grandfather, Colonel Samuel Prentiss II (1736-1809), was also a veteran of the Revolution.[1][2] The Dr. Samuel Prentiss family moved to Worcester, and then to Northfield in 1786, and the younger Samuel Prentiss completed his education in the schools of Northfield and with private tutoring in the classics from Reverend Samuel C. Allen.[1] Prentiss studied law in Northfield with attorney Samuel Vose,[1] and in Brattleboro, Vermont with attorney John W. Blake;[1] he was admitted to the bar in 1802 and began a practice in Montpelier.[1] Among the lawyers who received their education and training in his office was William Upham, who later served in the United States Senate.[3] Prentiss was a trustee of Dartmouth College from 1820 to 1827;[4] he received the honorary degrees of A.M.[4] and LL.D.[4] from Dartmouth in 1817 and 1832.[4]


In addition to practicing law, Prentiss became active in politics, first as a Federalist,[5] and later as a National Republican,[6] Anti-Jacksonian[7] and Whig.[7] He was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States House of Representatives in 1816,[5] and a member of the Vermont House of Representatives in 1824-1825.[1] From 1825 to 1829, Prentiss was an associate justice of the Vermont Supreme Court;[8] he was chief justice from 1829 to 1830.[8]

In 1831, Prentiss was elected to the U.S. Senate as an Anti-Jacksonian.[7] He was reelected as a Whig in 1837, and served from March 4, 1831 to April 11, 1842, when he resigned to accept appointment as a federal judge.[7] While in the Senate, he was chairman of the Committee on Patents and the Patent Office (28th Congress),[7] and he was the sponsor of the law to suppress dueling in the District of Columbia.[1]

On April 8, 1842, Prentiss was nominated by President John Tyler to the seat on the United States District Court for the District of Vermont vacated by the death of Elijah Paine.[1] Prentiss was confirmed by the United States Senate on April 8, 1842, and received his commission the same day.[1] He served on the court until his death.[1]

Death and burial[edit]

Prentiss died in Montpelier on January 18, 1857.[1] He was buried at Green Mount Cemetery in Montpelier.[9]


In 1804, Prentiss married Lucretia Houghton (1786-1855) of Northfield, Massachusetts.[1] They were the parents of 12 children:[10]

  • George Houghton (1805-1833)
  • Samuel Blake (1807-1894)
  • Edward Houghton (1808-1893)
  • John Holmes (1811-1876)
  • Charles Williams (1812-1895)
  • Henry Francis (1814-1872)
  • Frederick James (1816-1895)
  • Theodore (1818-1906)
  • Joseph Addison (1820-1907)
  • Augustus (1822-1822)
  • Lucretia (1823-1823)
  • James (1824-1868)

Theodore Prentiss was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly.

Prentiss's brother John Holmes Prentiss was a United States Representative from New York.





External links[edit]

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Dudley Chase
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Vermont
March 4, 1831 – April 11, 1842
Served alongside: Horatio Seymour, Benjamin Swift and Samuel S. Phelps
Succeeded by
Samuel C. Crafts
Legal offices
Preceded by
Elijah Paine
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont
Succeeded by
David Allen Smalley
Preceded by
Richard Skinner
Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court
Succeeded by
Titus Hutchinson
Preceded by
Joel Doolittle
Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court
Succeeded by
Titus Hutchinson


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