Book cover of Man of Treacherous Charm by Candace Wellman

Candace Wellman ’68 Socio.  

WSU Press: 2023 


Questionably qualified Edmund C. Fitzhugh was under indictment for murder when President James Buchanan appointed him to Washington Territory’s Supreme Court in 1858.

He had landed in Bellingham Bay four years earlier to run the Sehome Coal Mine, getting involved with politics and marrying two Indigenous half sisters. He fathered a child with each of them, a boy and girl, both of whom he later kidnapped and gave away. In all, he wed four women in ten years, including a cousin, and abandoned all six of his offspring.

Born into one of the privileged first families of Virginia, Fitzhugh sought wealth and power, exploiting personal and professional relationships in the process. After flunking out of the United States Military Academy at West Point, he opened a law office at 22 and, in 1849, was lured west by the California gold rush.

In her third book with WSU Press, Candace Wellman explores a complex character who played important roles in Washington Territory’s early days, especially in what would become Whatcom County. She spent 24 years researching this authoritative account that will appeal to readers with an interest in American, particularly Pacific Northwest, history.


Buy Man of Treacherous Charm at WSU Press