George M. Stearns

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George M. Stearns
United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts
In office
Preceded by George P. Sanger
Succeeded by Owen A. Galvin
Personal details
Born (1831-04-18)April 18, 1831
Stoughton, Massachusetts
Died December 31, 1894(1894-12-31) (aged 63)
Brookline, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Occupation Attorney

George Monroe Stearns was an American attorney who served as the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts from 1886 to 1887.

Early life[edit]

Stearns was born on April 18, 1831 in Stoughton, Massachusetts. He spent his early years in Rowe, Massachusetts, where his father was a clergyman at the local Unitarian Church.[1]

Legal career[edit]

After school, Stearns studied law in the office of John Wells in Chicopee, Massachusetts. He was admitted to the Hampden County bar on April 24, 1852 and soon thereafter became Wells' partner.[1][2]

After Wells moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, Stearns continued to practice law in Chicopee for several years. He eventually moved to Springfield himself, where he practiced with E. D. Beach and later with Marcus Perrin Knowlton.[3]


In 1859, Stearns was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In 1860, he served on the Committee for the Revision of the Statutes.[1]

In 1867 Stearns was the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. He lost to Republican William Claflin 100,381 votes to 68,527.[4]

In 1871, Stearns served in the Massachusetts Senate.[3]

In 1872, Stearns was again the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor. However, when gubernatorial nominee Charles Sumner declined to run, Stearns chose to do the same.[3]

From 1872 to 1874, Stearns was the District Attorney of the Western District of Massachusetts.[3]

He was a delegate to the 1872 Democratic National Convention, supporting Horace Greeley.[1]

United States Attorney[edit]

In February 1886, Stearns was appointed by President Grover Cleveland to serve as United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.[3]

In 1887, he prosecuted Alexander Graham Bell on the grounds that Bell had used fraud and misrepresentation to obtain a patent. Bell won the case.[5][6]

Stearns stepped down on August 31, 1887, citing ill health.[7]

Later life and death[edit]

In 1894, Stearns moved to Brookline, Massachusetts. The Hampden County Bar Association held a dinner in his honor before he left, but he was unable to attend due to ill health.[8]

Stearns died on December 31, 1894 at his home in Brookline.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Stearns married Emily Goodnow on May 17, 1855 in Brooklyn. They had two daughters, Mary Caroline Stearns (1856–1876) and Emily Spaulding Stearns (1858–1870).[3][9]


  1. ^ a b c d e "George M. Stearns". The New York Times. January 1, 1895. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Davis, William Thomas (1895). Bench and Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Volume 2. Boston: The Boston History Company. p. 256. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Toomey, Daniel P. (1892). Massachusetts of Today. Columbia Publishi ng Company. p. 432. 
  4. ^ Journal of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Boston: Eagle Graphics, Legislative Printers. 1868. 
  5. ^ "U.S. Supreme Court: U S v. AMERICAN BELL TEL CO, 167 U.S. 224 (1897)." caselaw.lp. Retrieved: July 28, 2010.
  6. ^ "United states V. American Bell Telephone Co., 128 U.S. 315 (1888)." Retrieved: July 28, 2010.
  7. ^ "George M. Stearns Resigns.". The New York Times. August 19, 1887. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  8. ^ "The Hon. George M. Stearns Honored.". The Boston Journal. November 9, 1894. Retrieved 15 September 2011. 
  9. ^ Stearns Van Wagenen, Avis (1901). Stearns Genealogy and Memoirs, Volume 2. Courier Press Co. pp. 231–233.