Alexander Bullock

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Alexander Bullock
Alexander H. Bullock.png
26th Governor of Massachusetts
In office
January 4, 1866 – January 7, 1869
Lieutenant William Claflin
Preceded by John A. Andrew
Succeeded by William Claflin
9th Mayor of Worcester, Massachusetts
In office
January 3, 1859 – January 2, 1860
Preceded by Isaac Davis
Succeeded by William W. Rice
Personal details
Born Alexander Hamilton Bullock
(1816-03-02)March 2, 1816
Royalston, Massachusetts
Died January 17, 1882(1882-01-17) (aged 65)
Worcester, Massachusetts
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Elvira Hazard
Profession Lawyer

Alexander Hamilton Bullock (March 2, 1816 – January 17, 1882) was an American lawyer, politician, and businessman from Massachusetts. First a Whig and then a Republican, he served three terms (1866-69) as the 26th Governor of Massachusetts. He was actively opposed to the expansion of slavery before the American Civil War, playing a major role in the New England Emigrant Aid Society, founded in 1855 to settle the Kansas Territory with abolitionists. He was for many years involved in the insurance industry in Worcester, where he also served one term as mayor.

Early years[edit]

Alexander Hamilton Bullock was born on March 2, 1816 in Royalston, Massachusetts, the son of Sarah (Davis) and Rufus Bullock. His father was a merchant and farmer who also owned a small mill and was active in local politics. He attended the local schools before going to Leicester Academy.[1] Bullock graduated from Amherst College in 1836 and from Harvard Law School in 1840. He was then admitted to the Massachusetts Bar and joined the law practice of Emory Washburn in Worcester.[2] However, he drifted away from the law, becoming involved in the insurance business as an agent.[3] He eventually joined the State Mutual Life Assurance Company, which had John Davis as its first president.[4]

In 1842 Bullock became active in political and public service. He served as a military assistant to John Davis, who was governor that year, after which he was frequently referred to as "Colonel Bullock".[3] In that year he also became editor of the National Aegis, a Whig newspaper with which he would remain associated for many years.[5]

In 1844 Bullock married Elvira Hazard, daughter of Augustus George Hazard of Enfield, Connecticut; they had three children,[6] including explorer Fanny Bullock Workman.[7] Elvira's father was owner of a major munitions factory, and upon his death in 1868 the Bullocks inherited a significant fortune, becoming one of the wealthiest families in the state.[8]

Massachusetts legislature[edit]

Bullock was first elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives as a Whig in 1845, serving until 1848. In 1849 he was elected to the Massachusetts Senate.[5] In 1854 Bullock became a principal in the New England Emigrant Aid Company, established by Eli Thayer to send anti-slavery settlers to the Kansas Territory after the Kansas-Nebraska Act specified that slavery in the territory was to be determined by popular sovereignty.[9]

Worcester politics[edit]

When Worcester was chartered as a city, Bullock was elected to serve on its inaugural Common Council.[10] He first ran for mayor of Worcester in 1853, but lost.[11] In 1859 he was elected mayor of Worcester, narrowly defeating Republican William W. Rice. During his one year term he donated his $1,000 salary for the awarding of medals to recognized students in the city's schools.[12] The city authorized the establishment of a public library, and acquired the land for its construction. He did not stand for reelection in 1860.[13]


In 1861 Bullock was again elected to the state legislature,[14] serving until 1866. Bullock was elected Speaker of the House in January 1862, serving in that role until 1865.[15]

Governor of Massachusetts[edit]

Bullock received the Republican Party nomination for governor in 1865 after John A. Andrew decided not to stand for reelection. Bullock defeated Civil War General Darius Couch, and served three consecutive one-year terms. Bullock was a member of an informal group of Republicans known as the "Bird Club" (for its organizer, paper magnate Francis W. Bird), which effectively controlled the state Republican Party organization and dominated the state's elected offices into the 1870s.[16] Bullock was an outspoken advocate of women's suffrage, although the more conservative legislature never enacted enabling legislation.[17] He also favored state support for railroads, signing bills providing loans totalling $6 million to the Troy and Greenfield Railroad for the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel in each of his terms.[18]

One of the more contentious issues during Bullock's tenure was the state's alcohol prohibition law, which had been enacted in the 1850s, and which politically divided the otherwise dominant Republicans. Easing of either the law's strict rules or their enforcement was regularly debated in the legislature. In 1868 legislative proponents of relaxed rules managed to pass a law abolishing the state police, who were tasked with the law's enforcement. Bullock vetoed this bill, pointing out that the state police performed other vital functions. At the same time, a law replacing abolition with a licensing scheme was passed; Bullock allowed this bill to become law without his signature. In 1869 a more conservative legislature restored the previous prohibition statute.[19]

Later years[edit]

After leaving office, Bullock returned to the insurance business, in which he remained until the end of his life. He refused repeated offers to stand for the United States Congress, and in 1879 turned down an offer by President Rutherford B. Hayes of the ambassadorship to the United Kingdom.[20] In early January 1882 he was elected president of the State Mutual Life Assurance Company,[21] but died quite suddenly in Worcester on January 17, 1882.[6] He was buried in Worcester's Rural Cemetery.[22]


  1. ^ Crane, pp. 19–20
  2. ^ Crane, p. 20
  3. ^ a b Devens, p. 6
  4. ^ Rice, p. 380
  5. ^ a b Devens, p. 7
  6. ^ a b Nutt, p. 17
  7. ^ James, p. 672
  8. ^ Pauly, p. 33
  9. ^ Devens, p. 9
  10. ^ Rice, p. 19
  11. ^ Rice, p. 25
  12. ^ Rice, p. 31
  13. ^ Rice, p. 33
  14. ^ Devens, p. 11
  15. ^ The Massachusetts Historical Society (June 1887). Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume III 2nd. Series. Boston, MA: The Massachusetts Historical Society. p. 331. 
  16. ^ Mohr, p. 3
  17. ^ Mohr, p. 6
  18. ^ Mohr, p. 10
  19. ^ Mohr. pp. 7-9
  20. ^ Nutt, p. 16
  21. ^ Rice, p. 383
  22. ^ Spencer, p. 342


External links[edit]

Massachusetts House of Representatives
Preceded by
John A. Goodwin
Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
1862 — 1865
Succeeded by
James M. Stone
Political offices
Preceded by
John A. Andrew
Governor of Massachusetts
January 4, 1866 — January 7, 1869
Succeeded by
William Claflin