Philip Richard Fendall II was an American lawyer and politician. He was born December 18, 1794, at the Lee-Fendall House, located at 614 Oronoco St., Alexandria, Virginia, to Philip Richard Fendall I and Mary Lee of "Leesylvania". Fendall matriculated to the College of New Jersey, later known as Princeton University in 1812 where he excelled at forensics and belonged to several clubs and debating societies. His academic performance was excellent and he graduated with honors in 1815. He was the "First Honor Man" (Salutorian of his class).
Law practice and early career
Upon his return to Alexandria, Virginia following his graduation, he secured a position working in the law practice of his uncle, Richard Bland Lee, who was a Congressman from Northern Virginia. He was an aide to Richard, who was placed by President James Madison, as an overseer in charge of reconstructing the new Capital, due to the British burning the city during the War of 1812. In 1820 Fendall was admitted to the Alexandria Bar. The 1820s were filled with financial woes for Fendall, which were compounded by his mother's financial difficulties, and by 1821 the Fendall's were forced to mortgage the Lee-Fendall House on Oronoco Street, Alexandria, Virginia, which Fendall's father built. In 1822, Fendall was elected President of the Periclean Society of Alexandria. This organization was composed of 24 men who met and debated philosophical and political questions. It was through this, that Mr. Fendall sharpened his forensic skills.
In August 1824, Fendall was appointed by President James Monroe (1758–1831), as Captain of Infantry, 2nd Brigaide of the local District of Columbia Militia. However, he did not hold this position very long, and it is doubtful that he exercised his command, for he resigned his commission on May 26, 1825. Fendall became the Editor of the National Journal in Washington, D.C. from 1824 to 1830, which was established by his close friend Peter Force (1790–1868), who at one time was Mayor of Washington, D.C. President Monroe appointed him judge of the Orphan's Court for Alexandria County.
Fendall married Mary Elizabeth Young (1804–1859) in Alexandria, Virginia on March 31, 1827. Elizabeth was the daughter of Brig. Gen. Robert Young (1768–1824). Following their marriage, the newlyweds moved to Washington, D.C. and set up housekeeping at 4th and Louisiana Avenue. This spacious house would serve as Philip's home and law office for the balance of his life. It was also in this house where Philip and Mary raised eight sons and three daughters. Mary died in 1859, after thirty-two years of marriage.
in 1827-1828, Fendall was a clerk in the U.S. State Department. While working there he developed a lifelong friendship with Sen. Henry Clay (1777–1852), Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams. On May 1, 1829, Fendall was terminated from his position by then-Secretary of State Martin Van Buren in an early example of patronage based terminations at the State Department. Fendall remained a loyal and close confidant to Clay through his long career.
On July 4, 1841, President John Tyler IV, Gen. (1790–1862) appointed Fendall District Attorney. In 1844 he was dismissed when the Whig Party lost to the Democrats, and President James K. Polk (1795–1849) came into office. In 1849 President Millard Fillmore (1800–1874) re-appointed him to his former post and he served in this capacity until his resignation in 1853 during the Pierce administration. Fendall also maintained his own practice as a lawyer when not handling the affairs of U.S. District Attorney. He was a pall bearer for the burial of Dolley (Payne) Todd Madison (1768–1849), wife of President James Madison.
When the Civil War broke out, Fendall was put in an awkward position, as he opposed slavery. On June 29, 1861, Fendall may have written an introduction letter for Henry May (Maryland) to meet Edward Bates, Lincoln’s Attorney General. The letter was found when May was arrested on September 13, 1861 by military authority.
Fendall's cousins, Gen. Robert Edward Lee (1807–1870) and Col. Richard Bland Lee II (1797–1875) resigned their commissions in the Army and took up with the Confederacy. Mr. Fendall had one son Lt. James Robert Young Fendall (1838–1869) who fought for the Confederacy, and two others who sided with the North. His son Maj. Philip Richard Fendall III (1832–1879), was a Lieutenant in the Union Marine Corps., and another son, Clarence “Claude” Fendall (1836–1868) was in the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, responsible for drafting maps for the Union Army.
Philip died February 16, 1868 at his home in Washington, D.C. at 1:00 p.m. He was placed in the vault at Glenwood Cem., then removed to the Presbyterian Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia.
In 1829, while still a Clerk, Mr. Fendall began writing a book entitled A History Of The Adams Administration (President John Quincy Adams and Mr. Fendall Richard Fendall were good friends). This was rumored a month before the inauguration of Andrew Jackson. It never was published, whether because of a lack of subscribers or time restraints on Mr. Fendall's career. However, a book was released entitled Parties In The United States that Mr. Fendall is rumored to be a collaborator of.
On June 16, 1830, upon the advent of Gen. Andrew Jackson (1767–1845), Fendall became the Editor of the National Intelligencer, one of the two daily papers in Washington D.C. along with the Globe.
In 1860 under direction of the Joint Committee of Congress, he began to edit, revise and index the Madison Papers, which were the correspondences of President James Madison.
Memberships and advocacy
Mr. Fendall was the second President of The Jamestown Society, originated in 1854 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown. His name is on a bronze plaque at the base of the Washington Monument. The plaque honors those who formed the Washington Monument Society, to construct the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. He was active in this work during the mid-19th century.
In April 1833, Fendall became the assistant secretary to the American Colonization Society in Washington, D.C., a society, which was formed in 1816 by a number of prominent Southern liberals including Francis Scott Key (1779–1843), George Washington Parke Custis (1781–1857), Andrew Jackson (1767–1845), Henry Clay (1777–1852), and ex-president James Monroe (1758–1831). The Society was interested in setting up a Colony, outside of America for free slaves to enjoy their freedom and own their own land. Fendall was instrumental in formulating the Society's goals. His draft stated that, "Slavery is not a good either moral, political or economical but it is an evil imposed on many of the Southern States, in far gone days without their consent. In the introduction of it, the Northern states bear their full share of responsibility."