Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss (1816-1894), a United States politician and army officer. He served ten terms in the U.S. House of Representatives between 1853 and 1890, and was Speaker of the House, 1856-57.
Banks was born in Waltham, Massachusetts. He studied law and was a newspaper editor before turning to politics. In 1853 he was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat. He was reelected as a member of the Know-Nothing (American) party, but became a Republican in midterm. He served as governor of Massachusetts, 1858-61.
After the outbreak of the Civil War, Banks accepted a commission as a major general in the Union army. In 1862 he led troops that were defeated in the battles of Shenandoah and Cedar Mountain by Confederate forces under General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. In 1863 he was put in command of Union forces around the Gulf of Mexico and seized Port Hudson, Louisiana. In 1864 he led an expedition up the Red River but failed in an attempt to capture Shreveport, Louisiana, after which he was relieved of his command. He returned to Massachusetts in 1865 and was again elected to the House of Representatives.