WILLIAM PRESTON LANE, JR. was born in Hagerstown, Maryland on May 12, 1892. His education was attained at the University of Virginia, where he earned a law degree in 1915. During World War I, he served in the U.S. Army as captain of the 115th Infantry, 29th Division. He later rose to the rank of major and was honored for his heroism with a Silver Star. After his military service, Lane established his legal career in Hagerstown, and published two newspapers. He ran unsuccessfully for state’s attorney in 1919, but went on to become Attorney General of Maryland in 1830, a position he held for four years. He also served as a presidential elector in 1936, and was a member of the Democratic National Committee from 1940 to 1950. Lane secured the 1946 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and then went on to win election to the Maryland governorship on November 5, 1946. Due to the resignation of Governor Herbert O’Conor, Lane was sworn into office on January 3, 1947, five days before his official term started. During his tenure, the Department of Mental Hygiene was established; the establishment of junior, or community colleges, was initiated; the State House and the Old Treasury Building were restored; legislative sessions were changed from biennial to annual; a sales tax was sanctioned benefiting hospitals, schools and local government; and a road and highway construction plan was authorized. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, because of widespread dissatisfaction with the imposition of a sales tax, Lane left office on January 10, 1951. He stayed active serving on several boards and corporations, as well as continuing in his legal career in Hagerstown. Governor William Preston Lane, Jr. passed away on February 7, 1967, and was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Hagerstown, Maryland.
Eisenberg, Gerson G. Marylanders Who Served the Nation. Annapolis, MD: Maryland State Archives, 1992.
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.
White, Frank F., Jr. The Governors of Maryland, 1777-1972. Annapolis, MD: Hall of Records Commission, 1970.
Maryland State Archives