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George Nixon Briggs

Gov. George Nixon Briggs

  • January 1, 1844 - January 11, 1851
  • Anti-Jacksonian, Whig
  • April 12, 1796
  • September 11, 1861
  • Massachusetts
  • Married Harriet Hall; two children
  • Representative


GEORGE N. BRIGGS, the twentieth governor of Massachusetts, was born in Adams, Massachusetts on April 12, 1796. His early education was limited and attained in the public schools of his native state. He later studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1818, and then established a successful practice that specialized in criminal law. Briggs first entered politics in 1824, serving as the Berkshire County register of deeds, a position he held seven years. He also served as chairman of the state board of commissioners of highways in 1826, and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1831 to 1843. Briggs won election to the Massachusetts governorship on November 13, 1843. He then went on to win reelection to seven consecutive terms. During his tenure, the state disagreed with the admittance of slave states to the union; and reforms in the death penalty were endorsed. After completing his term, Briggs left office on January 11, 1851. Two years later, he served on the bench of the Massachusetts Court of Common Pleas, a position he held five years. He also served as a member of the 1853 Massachusetts Constitutional Convention. In 1861, he was named to the commission to settle disagreements between the United States and New Granada, but before the commission convened Briggs was accidentally killed. Governor George N. Briggs passed away on September 11, 1861, and was buried in the Pittsfield Cemetery in 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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