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Hugh J. Gallen
New Hampshire

Gov. Hugh J. Gallen

  • January 4, 1979 - December 29, 1982
  • Democratic
  • July 30, 1924
  • December 29, 1982
  • Oregon
  • Married Irene Carbonneau
  • Pronounced Dead in Office


HUGH J. GALLEN was born July 30, 1924, in Portland, Oregon. When he was six, Gallen’s family moved to Medford, Massachusetts, where he attended local schools and graduated from Medford High School. After graduation, Gallen had a successful tryout with the Washington Senators baseball team and played for one of their minor league teams for a year, but an arm injury ended his career. In 1948 he began work as an automobile salesman in Littleton, New Hampshire. Gallen stayed in Littleton and in 1964 he became full owner of an automobile dealership, Hugh Gallen, Inc. From 1962 to 1965, he served on the Littleton, New Hampshire, Planning Board. In 1967, he was a member of the Small Business Administration’s New Hampshire Advisory Council and the National Advisory Council. He served as director and char of the New Hampshire-Vermont Development Council from 1969 to 1972, and from 1967 to 1970 as the director of White Mountain Community Services, a nonprofit agency established to provide mental health care. From 1971 to 1972, Gallen was Democratic state chairman, and he was a delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention. In 1973 Gallen became the first Democrat to serve as a state representative for Littleton. He entered the 1978 Democratic Party primary for governor, won, and then won the general election because of a split in the Republican Party. Former governor Wesley Powell had declared as an Independent after losing the Republican primary to the incumbent governor, Meldrim Thomson; the split allowed Gallen to become governor. In 1979 Governor Gallen called out the National Guard to protect Seabrook Power against anti-nuclear demonstrators. Gallen’s strong action won him reelection against Thomson in 1980, but a year later 9,200 state employees struck for higher wages. In negotiations Gallen agreed to a 9 percent raise; the Republican-controlled legislature would only agree to 6 percent. Gallen vetoed the state budget prepared by the Republicans, but he would not support a state sales tax or income tax to help pay for the contract he had negotiated with state workers. He had no way to pay for the state employees’ contract. In 1982 Gallen ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, while John Sununu won the Republican primary for governor. During the campaign Gallen refused to pledge that he would not introduce a new sales tax or income tax to pay for the employees’ contract; this cost Gallen the election. Shortly after the election Gallen contracted a rare blood infection and he died of this December 29, 1982, eight days before the end of his term. Vesta Roy, president of the New Hampshire Senate, served as acting governor until John Sununu could be sworn in as the state’s new chief executive.


Governors of the American States, Commonwealths and Territories, National Governors’ Association, 1981.

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