BANKS, Nathaniel Prentiss, American soldier and statesman: b. Waltham; Mass., 30 Jan. 1816; d. there 1 Sept. 1894. Entirely self taught, he worked himself up from the position of bobbin-boy in a cotton factory to the editor ship of a weekly newspaper. He read law, was admitted to the bar, and began to practise, but soon became active in politics. Elected to the Massachusetts legislature in 1849, he became speaker in 1851-52. In 1853 he was president of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention, and the same year was elected to Congress as a Coalition Democrat. The session which be gan 3 Dec. 1855, was memorable for its bitter speakership contest, the candidates being Banks and William Aiken, a large slaveholder of South Carolina. The contest lasted two months, the President's message being withheld, and all legislative business blocked. The ser geant-at-arms borrowed $20,000 from a Phila delphia bank in order to make advances to needy members of both parties. On the 133d ballot 2 Feb. 1856, Mr. Banks was elected. None of his decisions while speaker were ever reversed by the House. He was governor of
Massachusetts, 1857-59. In 1861 President Lin coln appointed him major-general of volunteers. He conducted active operations in the Shenan doah Valley and fought with credit at Win chaster and Cedar Mountain. In co-operation with Admirals Farragut and Porter he in vested Port Hudson and unsuccessfully at tempted to carry it by assault. In 1864, much against his judgment, he was placed in com mand of the Red River Expedition, which re sulted most disastrously for the Federal forces. Banks was widely censured and soon relieved of his command. General Grant, years later, in his 'Memoirs) furnished a full vindication of Banks by giving the name of the superior officer responsible for the expedition. From 1866 to 1876 General Banks represented his old district in Congress, and was prominent as chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations. He was United States marshal for Massachusetts, 1879-8& In 1891 Congress bestowed on him an annual pension of $1,200, a severe mental disorder having come upon him.