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W AS born at Andover, Massachusetts, where he now resides, on the 10th of September, 1786. He is a direct lineal descendant of the family of George Abbott, one of the first settlers of that ancient town, who emigrated from Hampshire, England, about the year 1610. He was educated at the district school while living at home on his father's farm. A severe sickness in early life impaired his constitution so materially that it never wholly recovered from the shock. This circumstance admonished him of the necessity of directing his attention to some pursuit in life imposing less physical labor than that of farming. He attended for some time the academy at Bradford, in Essex county, and subsequently became a trader and merchant, in which business he continued until within a few years past. An interesting genealogical register of this ancient family, compil. ed by the Reverend Abiel Abbot and the Reverend Ephraim Abbott, has been recently published by Munroe and Company, of Boston.
He always engaged more or less in town affairs, and has been director, trustee, and president of various business, moneyed, and literary institutions. He has never ceased to take particular interest in the cause of education. In 1835 he was elected a member of the State Legislature, and from that time until 1844 he continued a member of one or the other branch of that body. During three years of this time he represented the county of Essex in the Senate.
Though taking an active part in public matters generally, he took special interest, while a member of the Senate, in the public charities of the commonwealth. As chairman of the Committee on Public and Charitable Institutions, he introduced and advocated some important improvements, and exerted all his influence toward the promotion of the great cause of Christian benevolence. He took a deep interest, also, in the cause of internal improvements—as to rail-roads especially. Throughout the whole of his legislative career he supported with zeal the earliest as well as the later projects which have been the means of intersecting the state in every direction with iron pathways, and giving a lasting impetus to her material prosperity. He was one of the first board of directors of one of the earliest roads, now become one of the principal routes in the country—the Boston and Maine Rail-road. He continued a member of the board for many years. This project, in fact, was started by himself and two or three other gentlemen, was pushed through at much private risk and labor, and after a great struggle.
In 1844 he was elected by the Whig party to represent, in the twenty-eighth Congress, the third Congressional district of Massachusetts. His immediate predecessor was Brigadiergeneral Caleb Cushing. The district is composed of parts of the counties of Essex and Middlesex, and contains within its limits the large and populous towns of Newburyport, Haverhill, and Andover, the city of Lowell, and the new manufacturing town of Lawrence, &c. He was re-elected a member of the twenty-ninth, and subsequently of the thirtieth Congress.
His appearance is that of a plain, unostentatious gentleman, in the autumn-not yet in the winter—of life. His manners are quiet and unobtrusive, and he is known more by his votes and his close attention to his public duties than by his speeches. We have, indeed, no recollection of having heard him make what is known as a set speech, but he offers his views occasionally, briefly and off-hand, on different topics as they present themselves. He manifests a deep interest in all measures of a national character, and more especially those of Whig policy. From early life he has been firmly and uniformly attached to the conservative school of politics. He is not a politician by profession or natural inclination, his habits leading him rather to seek retirement, and to avoid the confusion and strife of a public career. And it has been his constant aim to make his political conduct a matter of moral duty.
He was married in 1812 to Esther West, of Salem, Massachusetts, and has three sons and six daughters living. He has been a professor of religion for thirty years, and during two thirds of that time an officer in the Congregational Church.
END OF VOL. I.