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Emory Washburn

Gov. Emory Washburn

  • January 12, 1854 - January 4, 1855
  • Whig
  • February 14, 1800
  • March 18, 1877
  • Massachusetts
  • Dartmouth College; Williams College; Harvard University
  • Married Marianne Cornelia Giles; three children


EMORY WASHBURN, the twenty-third governor of Massachusetts, was born in Leicester, Massachusetts on February 14, 1800. His education was attained at Dartmouth College, and at Williams College, where he graduated in 1817.  Three years later, he earned his law degree from Harvard University, and then established successful legal practices in Worcester and Leicester, Massachusetts. Washburn first entered politics as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, a position he held from 1826 to 1828 and 1838. He also served as an aide to Governor Levi Lincoln from 1830 to 1834, was a member of the Massachusetts State Senate from 1841 to 1842, and served on the bench of the Massachusetts Court of Common Pleas from 1844 to 1847. Washburn won the 1853 Whig gubernatorial nomination, however, in the general election no candidate received a vote majority. The decision was then thrown to the Massachusetts Senate, which named Washburn as the legal governor. During his tenure, social reform movements were endorsed; and the establishment of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute was promoted. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, Washburn left office on January 4, 1855.  He continued to stay politically active, serving again in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1876 to 1877. He also taught law at Harvard University from 1856 to 1876, and served on several boards, which included the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Massachusetts State Board of Education. Governor Emory Washburn, who authored several books on legal and historical issues, passed away on March 18, 1877. He was buried in the Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


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.

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