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La Crosse County Historical Society discovers, collects, preserves, and shares the history of La Crosse County, Wisconsin.

Object Record

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Object Name Portrait
Catalog Number 1978.030.05
Description Portrait of Governor Cadwallader C. Washburn. Oil on canvas, in a heavy wooden frame, painted gold. Washburn is in profile, looking to left.

Collection LCHS Fine Art Collection
Provenance This was donated as part of Grace Van Steenwyk's estate. The will states that this was the "La Crosse Trust Company portrait of Governor Washburn".
Date 1890
Maker James Reeve Stuart
Signature Location top right corner
Signed Name James Reeve Stuart
People Washburn, Cadwallader
Search Terms Portrait
Relation Show Related Records...
Notes Cadwallader Colden Washburn was born in Livermore, Maine in 1818. During his early adulthood, he moved to the Midwest and moved between Illinois and Iowa, until finally settling in Mineral Point, Wisconsin in 1852. Washburn worked as a schoolmaster, surveyor, lawyer, and United States Congressman before settling in La Crosse in 1861.

In February 1861, Washburn served as a delegate to the Washington Peace Conference in a final attempt to prevent the Civil War. The conference served as a good faith attempt to re-unite the United States and resolve differences between the two sides through compromise. The South had already planned to secede from the Union and was preparing a new government, and ultimately a decision on slavery could not be made that would satisfy both sides.

A few months later in April 1861, the Civil War officially started after a Confederate attack on Fort Sumter. Washburn accepted an appointment as colonel of the 2nd Cavalry and led it to Arkansas in the spring of 1862. He was promoted to brigadier general in June 1862, and was put in command of the entire 2nd Cavalry Brigade. Less than a year later, in March 1863, Washburn was commissioned a major general with command over all the Union cavalry in West Tennessee.

After the war, Washburn left the military and returned to Congress from 1867 until 1870. In 1866 he co-founded the first flour mill in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Washburn-Crosby Company. Today that flour mill is known as General Mills. Washburn also served as the eleventh governor of Wisconsin from 1872-1874. He died in Eureka Springs, Arkansas in 1882 while recuperating from an illness.