HORACE EATON was born in Barnard, Vermont. After graduating from Middlebury College, he taught at Middlebury Academy for two years and then moved to Enosburg, where his father practiced medicine. He studied under his father as well as at Castleton Medical College and joined his father’s practice. In addition to serving as Enosburg town clerk for a number of years, he was Superintendent of Schools from 1845 to 1850 and shocked the nation with his first Annual Report, which revealed the inadequacies of the public schools. He was a member of the Vermont House of Representatives in 1829-1830 and again in 1835-1836. He was also a member of the State Senate in 1837 and from 1839 to 1843. He served as Lieutenant Governor from 1843 until 1846, when he received the Whig Party’s nomination for governor. Since neither he nor the other two gubernatorial candidates received a majority of the popular vote, the decision as to who would be governor was left up to the state legislature, which selected Eaton. During his administration, Eaton was opposed to the admission of slave states to the Union and to war with Mexico. He succeeded in securing passage of a general license law, which called for a popular referendum to determine whether to require licenses for purveyors of intoxicating liquors. After two terms as governor, Eaton retired from public life, becoming a professor of chemistry and natural history at Middlebury College, a position that he held until his death on the 79thanniversary of American independence.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 8. New York: James T. White & Company.