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Gove Saulsbury

Gov. Gove Saulsbury

  • March 1, 1865 - January 17, 1871
  • Democrat
  • May 29, 1815
  • July 31, 1881
  • Delaware
  • Delaware College, University of Pennsylvania
  • Married Rosina Jane Smith; five children
  • Succeeded
  • Physician/Dentist


GOVE SAULSBURY, Delaware’s 33rd governor, was born in Kent County, on May 29, 1815. He attended Delaware College and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, earning a medical degree in 1842. Saulsbury moved to Dover, Delaware, and established a successful medical practice. In 1861 he served as president of the Delaware Medical Society. Saulsbury entered politics in 1862 as a member and president of the Delaware State Senate. On March 1, 1865, Governor William Cannon died in office, and Saulsbury, who was president of the senate at the time, assumed the duties of governor. After finishing Cannon’s term, Saulsbury won election to the governor’s office by popular vote on November 6, 1866. During his tenure, the construction of railroads was promoted, and taxes were enforced on real estate agents, insurance companies, and auctioneers to augment money for the state. An assessor for each county was designated for the collection of these taxes. Also during his term, Saulsbury openly condemned the federal government’s reconstruction actions, and he challenged the adoption of the 15th Amendment, citing deception and intimidation played a prominent part in its inception. Saulsbury finished his term on January 17, 1871. Two years later, he was instrumental in establishing the Wesley College in Dover. In 1876 and 1880 he served as  a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Governor Gove Saulsbury died on July 31, 1881, and is buried at the Whatcoat Methodist Cemetery in Dover, Delaware.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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