Arthur Sewall
President of the Maine Central Railroad
In office
Personal details
Born(1835-11-25)November 25, 1835
Bath, Maine, U.S.
DiedSeptember 5, 1900(1900-09-05) (aged 64)
Small Point, Maine, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseEmma Duncan Crocker
Children2, including Harold
  • William Sewall (father)
  • Rachael Sewall (mother)

Arthur Sewall (November 25, 1835 – September 5, 1900) was an American shipbuilder from Maine, best known as the Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States in 1896,[1] running mate to William Jennings Bryan. From 1888 to 1896, he served as a member of the Democratic National Committee and unsuccessfully ran for Maine's Senate seat against Eugene Hale.[2] The only elective offices Sewall held were as councilman and alderman in the town of Bath, Maine.[3]


On November 25, 1835, Arthur Sewall was born to William and Rachel Sewall in Bath, Maine. In 1892 Sewall launched the Roanoke, which at the time was the world's largest wooden ship.[4]

Following the death of his father, he and his brother lead their successful and wealthy shipbuilding business, and he took complete control following his brother's death in 1879. He served as President of the Maine Central railroad from 1884 to 1893 and also served as President of the Bath National Bank.

In June 1895, he came out in support of free silver, and he took third place on the first ballot at the 1896 Democratic National Convention behind Representative Joseph C. Sibley and Publisher John R. McLean and after initially losing delegates on the second ballot rebounded and took the majority on the fifth ballot before being nominated by acclamation.[5] His selection is believed to have been an effort to win votes among conservative and New England members of the party who were disturbed by the populist aspects of William Jennings Bryan. Arthur Sewall is also one of the few politicians to be an adherent of Swedenborgianism, a religion based on the writings of Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg.[6] His main vice-presidential opponent, Garret A. Hobart (Rep), was also an Eastern banker and industrialist who had served on his party's national committee. Sewall was Bryan's running mate for the first of Bryan's three times as the Democratic presidential nominee.

On September 5, 1900, Sewall died in Small Point, Maine, from apoplexy. He is interred in Oak Grove Cemetery in Bath, Maine. At the time of his death, he was worth $5,000,000 ($167,350,000 in 2022 dollars).[7]


Sewall's grandson, Sumner Sewall, served as Governor of Maine from 1941 to 1945, as a Republican.

In 2008, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch referenced Sewall in an article criticizing Senator John McCain's selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate in the 2008 presidential election, saying he had picked "the least qualified running mate since the Swedenborgian shipbuilder Arthur Sewall ran as William Jennings Bryan's No. 2 in 1896."[8]


  1. ^ The First Battle: A Story of the Campaign of 1896 By William Jennings Bryan see Chapter 12, page 221
  2. ^ Steel Glory: The Life of Shipbuilder Arthur Sewall (1835-1900) by Susie Yakowicz
  3. ^ Steel Glory: The Life of Shipbuilder Arthur Sewall (1835-1900) by Susie Yakowicz
  4. ^ "Death Of Arthur Sewall". Sioux City Journal. 6 September 1900. p. 7. Archived from the original on 4 December 2019 – via
  5. ^ "Tail Of The Ticket". Altoona Tribune. 13 July 1896. p. 2. Archived from the original on 4 December 2019 – via
  6. ^ "The Political Graveyard: Swedenborgian Politicians".
  7. ^ "Arthur Sewall, Who Is Critically Ill". Chicago Tribune. 4 September 1900. p. 5. Archived from the original on 4 December 2019 – via
  8. ^ St. Louis Post-Dispatch article: "Obama gets newspapers' support"