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Francis Williams Sargent

Gov. Francis Williams Sargent

  • January 22, 1969 - January 2, 1975
  • Republican
  • July 29, 1915
  • September 21, 1998
  • Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Married Jessie Fay; three children
  • Succeeded
  • Army
  • Bronze Star, Purple Heart


FRANCIS W. SARGENT was born July 29, 1915, in Hamilton, Massachusetts. He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in architecture in 1939. He worked as an architect in his father’s firm until World War II, when he enlisted in the Army and eventually ended up fighting with the 10th Mountain Division as an infantry captain. He fought in Italy and earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. After the war he moved with his family to Orleans on Cape Cod, where he and his wife, Jessie, ran the Goose Hummock sporting goods store. Sargent became an environmental activist when he grew concerned about overfishing on the Cape and the use of illegal nets. In 1947, Gov. Robert F. Bradford asked him to become director of fisheries and wildlife. Additionally, he chaired the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission; and served as U.S. Commissioner of International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries, commissioner of Massachusetts Department of Natural Resources, executive director of the U.S.Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, and association commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Works. From 1967 to 1969, Sargent was Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts (1967-69). He assumed the state’s highest office in 1969, when he was lieutenant governor and then-Gov. John Volpe left to become a Nixon cabinet member. In 1970, he won the office in his own right when he defeated Boston Mayor Kevin White. Four years later, he lost to Democrat Michael S. Dukakis. During his tenure, he created the state’s first cabinet form of government launched an ambitious reorganization plan and was a committed environmental activist — but alienated some members of his own party by appointing Democrats to state positions and opposing the war in Vietnam. He once told former Republican Vice President Spiro Agnew to stay out of Massachusetts. Governor Sargent worked to build several public housing projects. The state’s no-fault insurance law was passed during that time with his support. He also helped pass a statute challenging the legality of the Vietnam War. He tightened rules for qualifying for Medicaid and also introduced a new corporate tax. Governor Sargent served on the National Governors’ Conference Executive Committee. He passed away October 21, 1998.


Governors of the American States, Commonwealths and Territories, National Governors' Conference, 1974.


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