Samuel Shethar Phelps

May 13, 1793
March 25, 1855
Home Town:
Litchfield, CT
Later Residences:
Middlebury, CT
Frances Shurtleff Phelps (November 21, 1821)
Electra Satterlee Phelps (October 23, 1825)
Biographical Notes:
Samuel Phelps was the son of Captain John Phelps, a wealthy farmer of Litchfield, CT and his wife Sally (Shethar) Phelps. After leaving the Litchfield Law School, Phelps moved to Middlebury, VT. Although the area was strongly Federalist, he was a member of the Democratic Party. During the War of 1812, Phelps was drafted into the army and sent to the Canadian frontier. He was appointed Paymaster by President James Madison. After the war ended, he returned to Middlebury, VT and resumed his legal studies.

Phelps practiced as a successful lawyer there until 1831. Phelps and his first wife had three sons. His son Edward J. Phelps became the Minister to Great Britain. His first wife died only a few years after their marriage. Phelps and his second wife had six sons and two daughters.

During ...

Years at LLS:
Other Education:
Prepared for college with Rev. Ammi R. Robbins of Norfoflk, CT and graduated from Yale College in 1811.

Profession / Service
Military; Lawyer; Political Office
Admitted To Bar:
Middlebury, VT ca. 1816
Training with Other Lawyers:
He studied with Horatio Seymour of Middlebury, VT after completing his studies in Litchfield, CT.
Political Party:
Federal Posts:
U.S. Senator (VT) 1839-1851
Federal Committees:
Chairman of the Committee on Militia in 1841 and 1842. Member of the Committee on Revolutionary Claims from 1841-1842. Served on the Committee on Pensions from 1841-1842. Member of the Committee on Patents and the Patent Office in 1843 and 1844. Member of the Committee on Territories from 1843-1844.
State Posts:
State Representative (VT) 1821-1832
Judge of the State supreme Court (VT) 1832-1838
State Senator (VT) 1838-1839
State Committees:
Member of the 1827 VT Council of Censors.

Related Objects and Documents
In the Ledger:
help The Citation of Attendance provides primary source documentation of the student’s attendance at the Litchfield Female Academy and/or the Litchfield Law School. If a citation is absent, the student is thought to have attended but currently lacks primary source confirmation.

Records for the schools were sporadic, especially in the formative years of both institutions. If instructors kept comprehensive records for the Litchfield Female Academy or the Litchfield Law School, they do not survive. Researchers and staff have identified students through letters, diaries, family histories and genealogies, and town histories as well as catalogues of students printed in various years. Art and needlework have provided further identification of Female Academy Students, and Litchfield County Bar records document a number of Law School students. The history of both schools and the identification of the students who attended them owe credit to the early 20th century research and documentation efforts of Emily Noyes Vanderpoel and Samuel Fisher, and the late 20th century research and documentation efforts of Lynne Templeton Brickley and the Litchfield Historical Society staff.
Litchfield County Bar Association Records, 1811, Litchfield Historical Society, Helga J. Ingraham Memorial Library.

Catalogue of Litchfield Law School (Hartford, Connecticut: Press of Tiffany, Case and Company, 1849), 10.
Secondary Sources:
Dexter, Franklin Bowditch. Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College with Annals of College History, Vol. 6. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1912.

Contact Us

Do you have more information for the Ledger?

If you have family papers, objects, or any other details you would like to share, or if you would like to obtain a copy of an image for publication, please contact us at