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Henry Joseph Gardner
 Text from p. 706 of some unknown publication ? probably a book with biographies of all Massachusetts governors. The headline of the page is: Massachusetts / 706

Gardner, Henry Joseph, 1855-1858

Born on June 14, 1818, in Boston, Massachusetts, son of Henry, a physician, and Clarissa (Holbrook) Gardner. Married to Helen Elizabeth Cobb of Portland, Maine, on November 21, 1843; father of four sons and three daughters. Obtained his early education in private schools, including Phillips Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. After graduation from Bowdoin College in 1838, he entered the mercantile business as partner in a dry goods firm in Boston. Eventually he acquired sole proprietorship of the business, the name of which became Henry J. Gardner & Company. In 1850 he entered local politics in Boston, serving as a member of the Boston Common Council in 1850-1853, 1853, and 1854, and as president in 1852 and 1853. He served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, 1851-1852, and as a delegate to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention, 1853. In the general election of November 13, 1854, Gardner, with 81,503 votes, was elected Governor of Massachusetts as the American or ?Know-Nothing? Party candidate. Although semi-secretive, this party attracted large numbers of supporters who feared foreign influence in the United States and Roman Catholic domination. Incumbent Emory Washburn, a Whig, received 27,279 votes in the contest, while Democrat Henry Bishop tallied 13,742, and Republican Henry Wilson polled 6,483. Gardner succeeded Washburn into office on January 3, 1855. In the general election of November 6, 1855, he received 51,497 votes, Democrat Erasmus Beach?s 34,278 votes and Republican Julius Rockwell?s 36,715 prevented him from attaining an absolute majority. The election was referred to the Senate in accordance with state law, and he was reelected to a second term. He won a third term outright in the general election of November 4, 1856, garnering 92,467 votes to Beach?s 40,077 and scattered totals for other candidates. During his administration, Gardner reformed election laws; supported alien pauper and homestead acts; and stiffened the state naturalization law. He also encouraged measures curtailing the powers of the governor and regulating educational appropriations. In the general election of November 3, 1857, Republican Nathaniel Banks defeated Gardner in his bid for a fourth term. Banks, received 60,797 votes in the contest to Gardner?s 37,596 and Erasmus Beach?s 31,760. After leaving office on January 6, 1858, Gardner returned to his dry goods business. He retired from the firm in 1876 and spent the remainder of his life as resident agent of the Massachusetts Life Insurance Company. Gardner died at his home in Milton, Massachusetts, on July 21, 1892. Bibliography: F.A. Gardner, Thomas Gardner, Planter ? and Some of his Descendants (1907); G.H. Haynes, ?A Know-Nothing Legislature,? Annual Report of the American Historical Association, I (1897); Dorchester Births, Marriages, and Deaths to the End of 1825 (1890) ; Boston Transcript (July 22, 1892); Albert B. Hart, ed. Commonwealth History of Massachusetts. 5 vols. (New York 1927-1930).

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Created: July 2, 2005   Modified: July 2, 2005