Paul A. Dever

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Paul Dever
58th Governor of Massachusetts
In office
January 6, 1949 – January 8, 1953
LieutenantCharles F. Sullivan
Preceded byRobert F. Bradford
Succeeded byChristian Herter
32nd Attorney General of Massachusetts
In office
January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1941
GovernorJames Michael Curley
Charles F. Hurley
Leverett Saltonstall
Preceded byJoseph E. Warner
Succeeded byRobert T. Bushnell
Personal details
Paul Andrew Dever

(1903-01-15)January 15, 1903
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedApril 11, 1958(1958-04-11) (aged 55)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationNortheastern University
Boston University (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1942–1945
RankU.S. Navy O-4 infobox.svg Lieutenant commander
Battles/warsWorld War II

Paul Andrew Dever (January 15, 1903 – April 11, 1958) was an American Democratic politician from Boston, Massachusetts. He served as the 58th Governor of Massachusetts and was its youngest-ever Attorney General.

Early life[edit]

Paul Dever was born in Boston, Massachusetts to two Irish immigrants, Joseph and Anna MacAlevy Dever. He attended Boston public schools, including Boston Latin School. He attended Northeastern University for a time, but then transferred to Boston University, from whose law school he graduated with an LL.B. in 1926[1] with high honors.

Dever was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1928, and served from 1929 to 1935. In 1934 he was elected Attorney General, and was at age 31 the youngest to hold that office. In 1940, he challenged popular incumbent Governor Leverett Saltonstall, losing by a narrow margin.

World War II[edit]

In 1942, Dever enlisted in the United States Navy for World War II. He was subsequently commissioned a lieutenant commander, and served in the North Atlantic, European and African Sectors until his discharge at the end of the war in 1945.

Return to politics[edit]

Dever lost the 1946 race for lieutenant governor, but two years later he defeated incumbent governor Robert F. Bradford by a substantial margin in the race for Governor, and became the 58th Governor. He was re-elected in 1950, defeating the Republican candidate, former Lieutenant Governor Arthur W. Coolidge.

During his tenure, Dever increased state aid to schools and issued an executive order to extend higher education benefits to Korean War veterans. Among his chief concerns were civil defense and resisting domestic communism. He supported legislation requiring school teachers to take loyalty oaths, and he advocated increasing old age and workers compensation insurance.

In 1952, Dever made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Later that year the Dever administration came under fire when the Massachusetts Federation of Taxpayers Associations found that pensions for members and former members of the state legislature had been increased. One of those eligible was former Mayor of Boston and Governor James Michael Curley, a convicted felon. Dever gave in to pressure groups, calling a special session of the legislature that repealed the bill. Although Dever had built a strong political machine in Massachusetts, he was narrowly defeated for re-election by Christian Herter in 1952.

Death and burial[edit]

After leaving office Dever returned to practicing law. He suffered from heart disease in his later years, and died of a heart attack on April 11, 1958. He was buried in St. Joseph Cemetery in the West Roxbury section of Boston.

After Dever's death, the Myles Standish State School for the Mentally Retarded was renamed the Paul A. Dever State School in his honor.


  1. ^ Hannan, p. 110


  • Hannan, Caryn, ed. (2008). Massachusetts Biographical Dictionary. Hamburg, MI: State History Publications. ISBN 9781878592668. OCLC 198759744.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Joseph E. Warner
Attorney General of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Robert T. Bushnell
Party political offices
Preceded by
James Michael Curley
Democratic nominee for Governor of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Roger Putnam
Preceded by
Maurice J. Tobin
Democratic nominee for Governor of Massachusetts
1948, 1950, 1952
Succeeded by
Robert Murphy
Preceded by
Alben W. Barkley
Keynote Speaker of the Democratic National Convention
Succeeded by
Frank G. Clement
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert F. Bradford
Governor of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Christian Herter