Washington Hunt

17th Governor, 1851 - 1852
Washington Hunt

Washington Hunt (1811–1867) served as the first judge of the Niagara County Common Pleas Court. He was elected to three terms in the United States House of Representatives and resigned his post as New York State Comptroller to run for governor. As governor, Hunt improved roads and sought to expand the Erie Canal by selling canal revenue certificates, a practice which was later deemed unconstitutional. He briefly retired, but then served as temporary chairman of the Whig’s last national convention in 1856 and as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1864.
Painted portrait of Washington Hunt.
About the Artist


Asa Twitchell (1820–1904) was born in Lansingburgh, New York. A self-taught portraitist, he worked primarily in the Albany region.

On loan from the Albany Institute of History & Art. Permanent Deposit by the City of Albany.


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From The Encyclopedia of New York State

Hunt, Washington (b Windham, Greene Co, 5 Aug 1811; d New York City, 2 Feb 1867). Governor and US representative.

Educated in common schools, Hunt later studied law, was admitted to the bar (1834), and established a practice at Lockport (Niagara Co). After an unsuccessful bid for US Congress (1836), he was appointed judge (1836-41) in Niagara Co. A Whig, he served three terms in US Congress (1843-49) but refused a fourth term. He subsequently served as state comptroller (1849-50) and governor (1851-52). While governor, he sought Erie Canal expansion funded by the sale of canal revenue certificates, a plan that was later deemed unconstitutional. After losing his reelection bid in 1852, Hunt retired to his Lockport farm. He served as temporary chairman of the Whig Party’s last national convention (1856) and joined the Democrats when the Whig Party disintegrated. In 1860 he declined the Democratic nomination for US vice president and later served as a Democratic National Convention delegate (1864).


Holt, Michael F. The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (New York: Oxford Univ Press, 1999)
John Marino


Peter Eisenstadt, ed., The Encyclopedia of New York State
(Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), [p. 750-51].
© Syracuse University Press. Reproduced with permission from the publisher.