Nathaniel Silsbee (January 14, 1773 – July 14, 1850) was a ship master, merchant and American politician from Salem, Massachusetts.
Silsbee was the eldest child of Capt. Nathaniel and Sarah (Becket) Silsbee. At the age of fourteen, to support his family upon the financial failures of his father, he went to sea and learned navigation. His able
seamanship won him, at the age of nineteen, command of Elias Hasket Derby's Sloop "Sally". Silsbee continued commanding Derby vessels and had many interesting adventures and exploits with privateers, French Consuls,
and such. In 1795 he became part owner of the Schooner "Betsy" and continued to prosper and master his own vessels. In 1801 he placed his brothers, William and Zachariah, in charge of his ships. Nathaniel
continued owning vessels in partnerships until the 1840s, but he actively retired from shipping when he commenced his political career.
Silsbee was elected to the United States House of Representatives (March 4, 1817 – March 3, 1821). He was chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Military Pensions in the Twenty-first Congress. He declined to be a
candidate for renomination in 1820.
He was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1821 and the Massachusetts Senate (1823–1825), serving as president. He was a presidential elector in 1824.
He was elected to the United States Senate in 1826 to fill the vacancy in the term ending March 3, 1829, caused by the resignation of James Lloyd. He was re-elected in 1829 and served from May 31, 1826 to March 3,
1835. He was chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce in the Twenty-third Congress. He was a Whig presidential elector in 1836.
Nathaniel married Mary Crowninshield, the daughter of one of Salem's wealthiest merchants, on December 12, 1802. Their son Nathaniel (1804-1881) was mayor of Salem from 1849-1850 and 1858-1859.
In retirement, Silsbee resumed mercantile pursuits in Salem, where he died. His interment is in The Burying Point, the second oldest cemetery in the U.S.
- From Teen Captain to Knights of Columbus Nathaniel Silsbee on Salem Patch
- Biographical notes : Nathaniel Silsbee n.d., 79 p.