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Increase Sumner

Gov. Increase Sumner

  • June 2, 1797 - June 7, 1799
  • Federalist
  • November 27, 1746
  • June 7, 1799
  • Massachusetts
  • Harvard University
  • Married Elizabeth Hyslop; three children
  • Succeeded, Died in office


INCREASE SUMNER, the third governor of Massachusetts, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts on November 27, 1746. His education was attained at Harvard University, where he graduated in 1767. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1770, and then established his legal career in Roxbury. Sumner entered politics in 1776, serving as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, a position he held until 1780. He served as a member of the Massachusetts State Senate from 1780 to 1782, and was a member of the 1780 Massachusetts Constitutional Convention. He also served as associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court from 1782 to 1797, and was a delegate to the 1788 Massachusetts Convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution. Sumner won election to the Massachusetts governorship on April 3, 1797. He was elected to a second term in 1798, and to a third term in 1799. During his tenure, a new state house was relocated to Beacon Hill; new armories were set up; the state’s seacoast was strengthened; and the state’s stockpile of weapons was increased. While still in office, Governor Sumner passed away on June 7, 1799. He was buried in the Old Granary Burying Ground in Boston, Massachusetts. Subsequently, the governor’s office remained vacant, which resulted in the Council headed by Thomas Dawes supervising all of the state’s affairs. This interim government ended when the new governor, Caleb Strong, was inaugurated into office on May 30, 1800.


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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