Charles Plumley graduated from Norwich in 1896, served as president of the university for 14 years, and went on to represent the state of Vermont in the United States Congress.
Plumley was a true local boy. He was born and raised in Northfield, the son of Congressman Frank Plumley, who was also a lecturer and honorary degree recipient at Norwich. After graduating from Norwich, Plumley the Younger was an administrator in the Northfield public schools before attending law school. He served in the Vermont State House from 1912-1915, spent some time in the private sector, and eventually returned to his roots when he became president of Norwich University in 1920.
President Plumley saw Norwich through the construction of Sabine Field and the new armory (later named for him), the 1925 Dewey Hall fire, and the great flood of 1927, all before the start of the Great Depression, which began in 1929 and would continue throughout his term. The depression impacted many areas of campus life, from student employment to glee club membership.
Shortly after resigning the Norwich presidency in the fall of 1933, Plumley announced his intention to run for United States Congress. He was elected as Vermont’s representative-at-large the same year that Ernest Gibson, Sr., an 1894 graduate, was elected as one of the state’s U.S. senators. Plumley served in Congress for 17 years, at times amid controversy, before returning to Northfield to practice law.