Paul A. Dever

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Paul A. Dever
1939 photograph by Harris and Ewing
58th Governor of Massachusetts
In office
January 6, 1949 – January 8, 1953
Lieutenant Charles F. Sullivan
Preceded by Robert F. Bradford
Succeeded by Christian A. Herter
32nd Massachusetts Attorney General
In office
Preceded by Joseph E. Warner
Succeeded by Robert T. Bushnell
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born Paul Andrew Dever
(1903-01-15)January 15, 1903
Boston, Massachusetts
Died April 11, 1958(1958-04-11) (aged 55)
Boston, Massachusetts
Political party Democratic

Paul Andrew Dever (January 15, 1903 – April 11, 1958) was a Democratic politician from Boston, Massachusetts. He served as the 58th Governor of Massachusetts.

Early life[edit]

He attended the Boston Latin School and worked as a shoe salesman and clerk to finance his legal education at Boston University. When he graduated with high honors in 1926, he also had high expectations. As Chicago's chief executive from 1923 to 1927, Dever's cousin from Woburn, Massachusetts, William E. Dever had gained national prominence as the "Mayor who cleaned up Chicago."

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

World War II[edit]

In 1942 Dever enlisted in the 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, and became the 58th Governor. Governor 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 advocated increasing old age and workers compensation insurance.

Dever was re-elected in 1950, defeating the Republican candidate, former Lieutenant Governor Arthur W. Coolidge.

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 and Governor James 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 in Cambridge on April 11, 1958. He was buried in St. Joseph's Cemetery in the West Roxbury section of Boston.


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


Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph E. Warner
Massachusetts Attorney General
Succeeded by
Robert T. Bushnell
Preceded by
Robert F. Bradford
Governor of Massachusetts
January 6, 1949 - January 8, 1953
Succeeded by
Christian Herter