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Joseph Buell Ely

Gov. Joseph Buell Ely

  • January 8, 1931 - January 3, 1935
  • Democratic
  • February 22, 1881
  • June 13, 1956
  • Massachusetts
  • Williams College; Harvard Law School
  • Married Harriet Dyson; one child


JOSEPH B. ELY, the fifty-fourth governor of Massachusetts, was born in Westfield, Massachusetts on February 22, 1881. His education was attained at Williams College, where he graduated in 1902, and at Harvard University, where he earned his law degree three years later. After establishing his legal career in his father’s law firm, Ely entered into politics. He served as the district attorney for the Western District of Massachusetts from 1915 to 1920, and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1924 and 1928. After securing the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Ely went on to win election to the governorship in 1930. He was reelected to a second term in 1931, and to a third term in 1932. During his tenure, problems resulting from the Great Depression were dealt with. Also, a state works program was promoted to ease the state’s unemployment rate; a projected cut in state salaries was defeated; and a police academy was established in Boston. After completing his term, Ely left office on January 3, 1935. He later ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1944. Governor Joseph B. Ely passed away on June 13, 1956, and was buried at the Pine Hill Cemetery in Westfield, Massachusetts.


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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