John Albion Andrew
April 4, 1861
John Albion Andrew was born in Windham, where his father was a businessman. His mother was a teacher at Fryeburg Academy. Andrew graduated from Bowdoin College in 1837, and soon moved to Boston to study law.
Opposed to slavery, Andrew was a member of the Massachusetts Free Land Party, beginning in 1848, and joined the newly formed Republican Party in 1854. Politically active and ambitious, Andrew served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1858. He further came to the attention of Massachusetts voters in 1859, when he helped organize legal aid for John Brown after Brown’s raid on Harper's Ferry, Virginia.
In 1860, Andrew led the Massachusetts’ delegation to the Republican national convention in Chicago, voting to nominate Abraham Lincoln for the presidency.
Seizing the moment, Andrew campaigned to become Massachusetts’ Governor, He was elected in 1860, inaugurated in January, and immediately began to organize the state’s militia for what he foresaw as a likely civil war.
He spoke to his concern during his inaugural address, "in the possible contingencies of the future the State might be ready without inconvenient delay to contribute her share of force in any exigency of public danger."
Andrew would serve as governor for the duration of the Civil War.
One of his first decisions as Governor was to prepare his adopted state for war.
He wrote to Maine Governor Israel Washburn and New Hampshire Governor Ichabod Goodwin to encourage them to do the same.
Goodwin, a native of North Berwick, followed Andrew’s request. He borrowed money against his own name in May, 1861, to outfit two regiments. The New Hampshire Legislature convened in June, supported Goodwin’s decision, and took responsibility for the payment.
A staunch supporter of the Union, Andrew was willing to commit state money to pay recruits from other states to serve in Massachusetts regiments.
Upon receiving President Lincoln’s April 15 request for volunteers, Andrew dispatched five regiments of infantry, a battalion of riflemen, and a battery of artillery to the defense of the capital. As a mark of the Bay State’s readiness, the 6th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was the first fully armed and equipped unit to deploy to Washington, in April, 1861.
Andrew also appointed Benjamin Butler to command the 8th Massachusetts Infantry regiment.