Wilbur Lucius Cross

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Wilbur Lucius Cross
71st Governor of Connecticut
In office
January 7, 1931 – January 4, 1939
Lieutenant Samuel R. Spencer
Roy C. Wilcox
T. Frank Hayes
Preceded by John H. Trumbull
Succeeded by Raymond E. Baldwin
Personal details
Born (1862-04-10)April 10, 1862
Mansfield, Connecticut
Died October 5, 1948(1948-10-05) (aged 86)
New Haven, Connecticut
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Helen Baldwin Avery Cross
Children Wilbur Lucius Cross Jr.
Avery Cross
Elizabeth Cross
Arthur Cross
Alma mater Yale University
Profession Literary critic, editor, author, politician

Wilbur Lucius Cross, PhD (April 10, 1862 – October 5, 1948) was an American educator and political figure who was the 71st Governor of Connecticut for eight years.


Born in 1862 in Mansfield, Connecticut, Cross graduated from Yale University (B.A. 1885) and served as principal of Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut for a short time around 1885 before returning to Yale as a graduate student, earning a PhD in English literature in 1889. Cross spent several years as a high school principal and schoolteacher at Staples High School in Westport before being offered a job as a professor of English at Yale in 1894. Over the next 36 years, he taught at Yale, became editor of the Yale Review, and became Dean of the Yale Graduate School.[1] On July 17, 1889, he was married to Helen Baldwin Avery, and they had four children; Wilbur Lucius Cross Jr., Avery Cross, Elizabeth Cross, and Arthur Cross.[2]

Cross, who became a well-known literary critic, was Professor of English at Yale University and the first Dean of the Yale Graduate School, from 1916 to 1930. Along with Tucker Brooke, Cross was the editor of the Yale Shakespeare; he also edited the Yale Review for almost 30 years. He wrote several books, including Life and Times of Laurence Sterne (1909) and The History of Henry Fielding (1918), and several books on the English novel.

After retiring from Yale, Cross was elected governor of Connecticut as a Democrat in 1930 and served as Governor for four two-year terms, from January 7, 1931 to January 4, 1939. He was a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Connecticut in 1936.[3] He was defeated in 1938 in his attempt to gain re-election for a fifth term. He is credited with passage of several items of reform legislation during his tenure of governor, which included measures related to the abolition of child labor, and instituted a minimum wage rate. Also there was legislation that authorized governmental reorganization, and improved factory laws. He also endorsed legislation that authorized funding for the rebuilding of the Connecticut State College, which included the construction of the first campus library, named the Cross Library. After retiring from public service, he continued to stay active in his writing and research projects.[4]

Death and legacy[edit]

Cross died on October 5, 1948 in New Haven, age 86 years, 178 days). He is interred at Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut.[5]

Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven, Connecticut, Wilbur Cross School in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Connecticut's Wilbur Cross Parkway and Wilbur Cross Highway were named in his honor, as was the Wilbur L. Cross Medal for outstanding achievement in professional life, awarded by Yale. The first campus library at the University of Connecticut (then Connecticut State College), built with bond revenues authorized during Cross's governorship and opened in 1939, was named for Cross in 1942.

Wilbur Cross's autobiography, Connecticut Yankee, was published in 1943.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Wilbur Lucius Cross". Connecticut State Library. Retrieved December 16, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Wilbur Lucius Cross". NNDB Soylent Communications. Retrieved December 16, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Wilbur Lucius Cross". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved December 16, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Wilbur Lucius Cross". National Governors Association. Retrieved December 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ http://www.cslib.org/gov/cross.htm


  • Proclamations of His Excellency Wilbur L. Cross, Governor of the State of Connecticut. Hartford, CT: Prospect Press, 1937.
  • Connecticut Yankee: An Autobiography. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1943.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John H. Trumbull
Governor of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Raymond E. Baldwin