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James Sullivan

Gov. James Sullivan

  • April 6, 1807 - December 10, 1808
  • Democratic-Republican
  • April 22, 1744
  • December 10, 1808
  • Maine
  • Married twice--Mehitable Odiorne, Martha Langdon; nine children
  • Died in office


JAMES SULLIVAN, the fifth governor of Massachusetts, was born in Berwick, Maine on April 22, 1744. His early education was attained through tutoring by his father. He later worked and studied law in his brother’s legal firm. Sullivan then established a successful legal career, serving as the King’s Counsel for York County. He also served as a justice for the Massachusetts Supreme Court from 1776 to 1782, as well as serving as a probate judge for Suffolk County from 1788 to 1790. Sullivan entered into a political career in 1774, serving as a member of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, a position he held until 1775. He also served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1775 to 1776, was a member of the 1779 Massachusetts Constitutional Convention, and served as a member of the Continental Congress in 1784 and 1785. He served as a member of the Massachusetts Executive Council in 1787, and was the Massachusetts attorney general from 1790 to 1807. Sullivan was an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate five times before finally winning election on April 6, 1807. He was reelected to a second term on April 4, 1808 but died eight months later. Governor Sullivan, who authored several books on history, finance and legal issues, was buried in the Central Boston Common Cemetery.


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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