Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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FELCH, Alpheus, jurist, born in Limerick, York County, Maine, 28 September 1806. His grandfather, Abijah Felch, a soldier of the Revolution, had removed to that region while it was still a wilderness, and Alpheus, who was left an orphan at three years of age, was brought up in his house. Young Felch entered Phillips Exeter academy in 1821, was graduated at Bowdoin in 1827, and in 1830 was admitted to the bar at Bangor, Maine He removed to Monroe, Michigan, in 1833 and in 1843 to Ann Arbor, where he has since resided.
He was in the legislature in 1835'7 and in 1838'9, as one of the state bank commissioners, did much to expose frauds, made possible by a general "wildcat" banking law, which he had opposed, and which was afterward declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. He was auditor general of the state for a few weeks in 1842, and judge of the state Supreme Court till 1846, when he resigned to enter upon the office of governor of the state, to which he had been elected, as a Democrat, in the previous year. He resigned this also in 1847, haying been chosen to the U. S. Senate, where he remained until 1853, serving for four years as chair man of the committee on public lands. At the close of his term President Pierce appointed him on the commission to settle Spanish and Mexican land claims, under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and he became its president. The work of the commission, involving many important decisions, was finished in 1856, and its reports, consisting of forty large volumes, were deposited in the Department of the Interior at Washington. He retired from practice in 1873, and in 1879'83 was professor of law in Michigan University. Bowdoin gave him the degree of LL. D. in 1877.
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