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#188 Alden Partridge’s Nephew Carried On the Family Legacy at Norwich

Jeff Dobbin 200 Things about Norwich, Leaders & Legacy

Lewis S. Partridge

Alden Partridge does not have any living biological descendants. One of his sons died as a teenager, and the other never married. However, the Partridge family was sprawling and influential in the region of Norwich, Vt. Our founder was one of seven children, and a number of his many relatives were involved with the affairs of the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy and Norwich University.

One such relative was Partridge’s nephew, Lewis S. Partridge. He was born to Alden Partridge’s younger brother Abel in 1818, the year before the founding of the Academy. Born and raised in the shadow of his uncle’s visionary project, Lewis was one of the first students to attend the degree-granting institution called Norwich University—the school received its charter from the Vermont legislature the year after Lewis matriculated.

He remained at the university until 1837, after which he embarked upon a wide-ranging career as a businessman and local political figure in Norwich and the state of Vermont. He served in the Vermont State House from 1852-53; represented Vermont in the Democratic National Convention of 1864; served as a U.S. Marshal for the state from 1857-61; held several commissions in the state militia; and held the coveted position of postmaster in the town of Norwich on three separate occasions. (In the 19th century, postmaster was a political appointment often granted to favored allies of the top leaders.) His final stint as postmaster came near the end of his life, in the 1880s, when Grover Cleveland’s election to the presidency brought favor once more to local Democratic officials.

Lewis Partridge’s political career was not without controversy. In 1862, during the Civil War, he was arrested and charged with treason for cutting down the flagpole at a Union recruiting office. After a trial in 1864, he was acquitted of the charge of obstructing the draft.

In spite of these ups and downs, Lewis Partridge remained active with his alma mater—his uncle’s beloved university—for many years. He served as marshal at numerous Norwich University commencements. The eldest of his 11 children, Lewis Baxter Partridge, also attended Norwich, graduating in 1868.