CLAUDE AUGUSTUS SWANSON was born in Swansonville, Virginia. He attended Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College at Blacksburg and received his A.B. degree from Randolph-Macon College and an LL.B. degree from the University of Virginia in 1886. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms, serving from March, 1893 until January, 1906. Although an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1901, he was elected governor four years later. During his administration, electrocution was substituted for hanging as a method of capital punishment, appropriations for primary schools were doubled, and two teachers’ colleges were established in the state, in Harrisonburg and Fredericksburg. After leaving office, Swanson was appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill a vacancy and was later elected to the position in his own right, serving from August, 1910 to March, 1933. He was the American delegate to the Disarmament Conference at Geneva, Switzerland, in 1932 and became Secretary of the Navy under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, serving in that capacity from March, 1933 until his death.
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