Samuel Dexter was born in Boston, Massachusetts
on May 14, 1761 to the Rev. Samuel Dexter, the 4th minister
of Dedham. He graduated from Harvard University in 1781
and then studied law at Worcester under Levi Lincoln,
Sr., the future Attorney General of the United States.
After passing the bar in 1784, he started practicing law
in Lunenburg, Massachusetts.
He was elected to the Massachusetts House
of Representatives and served 1788 to 1790. He was elected
to the 3rd Congress and then elected to the United States
Senate. In December 1799, he memorably wrote the memorial
eulogy to George Washington upon the first president's
death. His house in Dedham stands to today.
He served for less than a year as he was
appointed United States Secretary of War by President
John Adams in 1800. Upon Secretary of the Treasury Oliver
Wolcott, Jr.'s resignation in December 1800, Adams appointed
Dexter as interim Secretary. He then briefly conducted
the affairs of the War Office. He administered the oath
of office to Chief Justice John Marshall.
He returned to Boston in 1805 and resumed
the practice of law. Was an unsuccessful candidate for
Governor of Massachusetts in 1814 and 1815.
The USRC Dexter (1830) was named in his
honor. His son, Samuel W. Dexter was the founder of Dexter,
He died on May 4, 1816 shortly before his
55th birthday and is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in
NOTE: Death notice for Dexter was published in The Troy
Post on May 7, 1816.