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Emerson Columbus Harrington

Gov. Emerson Columbus Harrington

  • January 12, 1916 - January 14, 1920
  • Democratic
  • March 26, 1864
  • December 15, 1945
  • Maryland
  • St. John's College
  • Married Gertrude Johnson; three children
  • NGA Chair


EMERSON C. HARRINGTON was born in Madison in Dorchester County, Maryland on March 26, 1864. His education was attained at public schools and St. John’s College in Annapolis, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1884 and a Master of Arts degree in 1886. While studying for his law degree, Harrington taught school and served as a high school principal for several years. He entered public service in 1899, with his election as state’s attorney for Dorchester County, a position he held for four years. He also served as Maryland Insurance Commissioner in 1910 and was the Comptroller of the Treasury from 1912 to 1916. Harrington secured the 1915 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and then went on to win election to the Maryland governorship on November 2, 1915. He was sworn into office on January 12, 1916. During his tenure, the State Law Department was established, as well as the Conservation Commission and the Council of Defense. Also, a state parole system was initiated; the Claiborne and Annapolis ferry service was launched; the prohibition movement was endorsed; and the raising of teacher’s salaries was lobbied for. Harrington completed his term on January 14, 1920. After running unsuccessfully in 1926 for a judgeship, Harrington retired from political life. Governor Emerson C. Harrington passed away on December 15, 1945, and was buried at the Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery in Cambridge, Maryland.


Eisenberg, Gerson G. Marylanders Who Served the Nation. Annapolis, MD: Maryland State Archives, 1992.

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

White, Frank F., Jr. The Governors of Maryland, 1777-1972. Annapolis, MD: Hall of Records Commission, 1970.

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