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John Henry Clifford

Gov. John Henry Clifford

  • January 14, 1853 - January 12, 1854
  • Whig
  • January 16, 1809
  • January 2, 1876
  • Rhode Island
  • Brown University
  • Married Sarah Parker; two children


JOHN H. CLIFFORD, the twenty-second governor of Massachusetts, was born in Providence, Rhode Island on January 16, 1809. His education was attained at Brown University, where he graduated in 1827. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1830, and then established a successful legal career in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Clifford first entered politics in 1835, serving as a one-term member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He served as an aide to Governor Edward Everett from 1836 to 1840, and was the district attorney for Southern Massachusetts from 1839 to 1849. He also served as a member of the Massachusetts State Senate in 1845, and was the attorney general of Massachusetts from 1849 to 1853. Clifford won election to the Massachusetts governorship on November 8, 1852, and was sworn into office on January 14, 1853. During his tenure, the political patronage system was challenged; and the state’s fishing and manufacturing industries were advanced. After completing his term, Clifford left office on January 12, 1854. Later that same year, he secured an appointment as Attorney General of Massachusetts, a position he held four years. He served again in the Massachusetts State Senate from 1862 to 1867, and was the senate president in 1862. He also served as an 1868 Republican presidential elector, and was the U.S. Commissioner of Fisheries in 1875. Governor John H. Clifford passed away on January 2, 1876.


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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