WILLIAM L. DOUGLAS, the forty-fourth governor of Massachusetts, was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts on August 22, 1845. His education was limited and attained in the public schools of his native state. Shortly after the death of his father, young Douglas went to work for his uncle, learning the shoemaking trade. Eventually, he established his own shoe and boot business, the W.L. Douglas Shoe Company, which grew into seventy stores across the country. During the Civil War, he served in the 58th Regiment, but was discharged shortly after being wounded in the Battle of Cold Harbor. Douglas entered politics in 1884, serving as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, a position he held until 1885. He also served in the Massachusetts State Senate in 1887, was elected the mayor of Brockton in 1890, and served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1884, 1892, 1896 and 1904. In 1904, Douglas secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and then went on to win election to the governorship on November 8, 1904. During his tenure, the first leprosy treatment institution was established on Penikese Island. After completing his term, Douglas left office on January 4, 1906, and retired from political life. Governor William L. Douglas passed away on September 17, 1924, and was buried in the Melrose Cemetery in Brockton, 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.