Eli Thayer

Eli Thayer

Eli Thayer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1857  March 3, 1861
Preceded by Alexander De Witt
Succeeded by Goldsmith Bailey
Personal details
Born June 11, 1819
Mendon, Massachusetts
Died April 15, 1899(1899-04-15) (aged 79)
Worcester, Massachusetts
Political party Republican
Children John A. Thayer, Clara Thayer (Mrs. Charles H. Perry M.D.), Ida M. Thayer.[1]
Alma mater Worcester Academy, 1840;
Brown University, 1845

Eli Thayer (June 11, 1819 – April 15, 1899) was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1857 to 1861. He was born in Mendon, Massachusetts. He graduated from Worcester Academy in 1840, from Brown University in 1845, and in 1848 founded Oread Institute, a school for young women in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is buried at Hope Cemetery, Worcester.

He is chiefly remembered for his connection with the "Kansas Crusade," the purpose of which was to secure the admission of Kansas to the Union as a free State. With this aim in view, early in 1854 Thayer organized the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company to send anti-slavery settlers to the Kansas Territory. In 1855, this organization joined with the New York Emigrant Aid Company and the name was changed to the New England Emigrant Aid Company.

Local leagues were established whose members emigrated to Kansas and established towns. The Company provided hotels for temporary accommodation and provided sawmills and other improvements. Settlements were established at Manhattan, Lawrence, Topeka, and Osawatomie. The clash of these settlers and other "Free-Stater" Northerners with proslavery settlers spawned the violence of Bleeding Kansas.

Thayer wanted to establish an antislavery colony in Virginia, but land was too expensive. He then looked to western Virginia. Thayer chose to build his colony at the mouth of Twelvepole Creek in Wayne County, Virginia now West Virginia. He named his town Ceredo after the goddess Ceres. The town was founded in 1857. He enlisted fellow abolitionist Zopher D. Ramsdell to settle there and establish a boot and shoe factory.[2] It is open as a historic house museum.


  1. "Sisters Run Down by Auto; Mrs. Clara Thayer Perry Dead, Miss Ida M. Thayer Dying". New York, NY: The New York Times. September 18, 1914: 5. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. unknown (n.d.). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Z. D. Ramsdell House" (PDF). State of West Virginia, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2011-07-09.


Works related to Eli Thayer at Wikisource

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Alexander De Witt
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
Goldsmith Bailey
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