Moses Fowler Odell (1818-1893)

Moses Fowler Odell, a Representative from New York, was born in Tarrytown, Westchester County, N.Y., on February 24, 1818. Following a public education, he pursued a brief business career and Democratic politics. A partisan of President James Knox Polk, he won a patronage appointment to a clerkship in the New York custom house in 1845, and later under Democratic President Franklin Pierce he was appointed a public appraiser.

Odell was elected from the district of Brooklyn (New York's 2nd District) as a Fusion Democrat and then a War Democrat to the 37th and 38th Congresses (March 4, 1861-March 3, 1865). He was chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Treasury (37th Congress) and served on the Indian Affairs Committee. On December 10, 1861, as a War Democrat, he accepted an important seat on the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, a body dominated by Radical Republicans. When he was reelected to the 38th Congress, this time representing the 3rd District, he joined the Military Affairs Committee; on this and the Joint Committee he exerted unusual Democratic influence in investigation of Union military personalities and operations. He declined a third congressional term.

Odell accepted an appointment as naval agent for the port of New York from former Joint Committee member President Andrew Johnson in 1865 and served until his death from cancer in Brooklyn, N.Y., June 13, 1866. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.