WILLIAM L. TRENHOLM, the sixth Comptroller of the Currency, was born at Charleston, S. C, February 3, 1836. After graduation from the South Carolina College he became a partner in the commercial houses of John Fraser & Company, of Charleston; Trenholm & Company, of New York, and Fraser, Trenholm & Company, of Liverpool, England. He lived in England for two years. He volunteered for service with the South Carolina troops in December, 1861, and served in the Confederate Army throughout the Civil War.
After the close of the war, he resumed business in Charleston. In November, 1885, he was appointed one of the Board of United States Civil Service Commissioners, and retained this position until he was appointed Comptroller of the Currency by President Cleveland, April 20, 1886. He was the first Democrat who ever held the office of Comptroller. With the exception of these two positions, he never before had held public office, except that of Alderman in the Common Council of his native city.
His administration of the Currency Bureau extended to April 30, 1889, although he practically relinquished the office on January 1, 1889, to accept the presidency of the American Surety Company of New York City, which he assisted in organizing. He was president of this company until January 18, 1898, when he voluntarily resigned, to accept the presidency of the North American Trust Company of New York, which position he assumed on the following day. He resigned from this company in May, 1899, after which time he devoted his attention to his private business affairs. He died in New York City, of pneumonia, January 11, 1901, at the age of sixty-five.
Mr. Trenholm was a scholarly and most genial gentleman, affable, and considerate of everybody with whom he came in business or social contact. He was a man of strict integrity, firm in his convictions and tenacious in his views. Although of limited financial means, he was generous to a fault. He was esteemed very highly by the officers and employees of the Currency Bureau and by the officials of the Treasury Department in general.