Once upon a time in Norwich, the Governor of the State of Connecticut, William A. Buckingham, resided in this building. Born in Lebanon, Connecticut, May 28, 1804, he attended Lebanon School, Bacon Academy in Colchester, and later took up residency in Norwich.
Impressed by his uncle’s retail establishment, young Buckingham first went into retailing and later invested in the manufacture of carpets and the rubber shoe industry. Successful in all of these enterprises, he amassed a fortune and was able to dedicate his life thereafter to public service.
He became Mayor of Norwich in 1847; elected Governor of the State of Connecticut in 1858. He was a loyal friend to candidate, and later President Abraham Lincoln. Buckingham served Connecticut as Governor during the Civil War. After Lincoln’s assassination, Buckingham resigned his office in 1866. He was elected in May, 1868 to fill the first vacancy which occurred in the Senate of the United States. His remarkable career was an inspiration to all. He met the demand of every public occasion. Buckingham was a man of honor with strong religious commitments. Sympathetic and charitable, he was considered a statesman.
He died while in office on February 5, 1875. His funeral was attended by numerous national dignitaries.
His residence, this building, is dedicated as a memorial to the memory of William A. Buckingham—Mayor of Norwich, Governor of Connecticut, and United States Senator.
William Buckingham, Connecticut Civil War Governor, supported the war effort 100% and was a very active and patriotic governor. Governor Buckingham was watching every movement the South was making to continue slavery into the Western territories and felt war was imminent and that Connecticut should be ready.
On January 17, 1861, he issued a proclamation stating the traitorous and hostile acts of the South. With clear vision and resolute purpose, he declared that the active services of the militia may soon be required and urged companies to fill their ranks and inspect their arms and equipment. On his own responsibility, he quietly ordered his Quartermaster General to purchase the latest arms and equipment for 5,000 men.
When Connecticut’s first three infantry regiments reached Washington, D.C. the General of the Army, Winfield Scott, commented that the Connecticut regiments were the best equipped.
Approximately 1300 Norwich men served during the Civil War, 1216 in the Army and 84 in the Navy. 156 did not return alive. They served in 21 of 29 regiments, 2 heavy artillery regiments, 1 light battery, 1 cavalry regiment and U.S. Naval ships. Several served in other states’ regiments. They fought in 33 battles or engagements. Many were present at Appomattex, VA when Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant.
Brigadier General Daniel Tyler of Norwich was selected by Lt. General Winfield Scott, commander of the U.S. Army to lead the Northern Advance with his division. They met the Confederate Army on July 18, 1861. The first major battle of the Civil War, known as Bull Run by Northerners and Manassas by Southerners.