Philip H. Hoff

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Philip H. Hoff
Philip h hoff 20041012.jpg
73rd Governor of Vermont
In office
January 10, 1963 – January 9, 1969
Lieutenant Ralph Foote
John Daley
Preceded by Ray Keyser
Succeeded by Deane Davis
Member of the Vermont House of Representatives
In office
Member of the Vermont Senate
In office
Personal details
Born Philip Henderson Hoff
(1924-06-29) June 29, 1924 (age 93)
Turners Falls, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Joan Brower
Alma mater Williams College (B.A.)
Cornell Law School (LL.B.)
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1943–1946
Battles/wars World War II

Philip Henderson Hoff (born June 29, 1924) is an American politician from the U.S. state of Vermont where he served as the 73rd Governor of Vermont from 1963 to 1969. At the time of his election, he was the first Democrat elected governor of Vermont in 108 years, and only the second ever.


Hoff was born in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. His father worked in the insurance industry and served two terms in the Massachusetts General Court. Philip was a star high school football player, scoring the winning touchdown in Turners Falls High School's 1942 annual game against rival Greenfield High School.[1]

Hoff attended Williams College, where he studied English, but postponed graduation for two years in order to serve in World War II.[1] He saw combat action during World War II aboard the submarine, USS Sea Dog, in the South Pacific theatre. Hoff met his wife, Joan Brower, during his naval service and they were married in 1948.[2] At the time, she was a student at Connecticut College. Hoff returned to Williams after the war and graduated cum laude in 1948. He later attended Cornell Law School, graduating in 1951.[1] The Hoffs moved to Burlington, Vermont in 1951. Hoff began a law practice, and also became involved in local politics as a Democrat.


Poster from Hoff's 1962 campaign.

Hoff was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in 1960,[3] and in 1962, was elected Vermont's first Democratic governor since 1854 by virtue of his energetic campaign and the popularity of President John F. Kennedy. He was reelected in 1964 and 1966 and pioneered unprecedented environmental, development, and social welfare programs, including the creation of the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women.[4] Concerned about racial justice, he joined with New York Mayor John Lindsay to co-found the Vermont-New York Youth Project, which brought minority students from the city together with Vermont students to work on joint summer projects at several Vermont colleges. According to the Boston Globe, the program, which temporarily doubled Vermont's black population, "uncovered some latent bigotry that had not been visible before."[5]

Hoff was the first Democratic Governor in the nation to split with President Lyndon Johnson over the Vietnam War and later campaigned across the country to promote Robert Kennedy's effort to obtain the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination. After Kennedy's assassination, Hoff endorsed Eugene McCarthy. Democrats who opposed Johnson came close to nominating Hoff as a candidate for Vice President at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, but after some initial enthusiasm, Hoff declined to put his name forward(questionable citation).[5]

Hoff's endorsement of Kennedy and later McCarthy upset conservative Democrats and Hoff was also criticized for increases in state spending which some claimed led to hefty deficits. In 1970, Hoff challenged incumbent U.S. Senator Winston L. Prouty, but Prouty easily won reelection. During the campaign, Hoff announced that he had battled alcoholism in the past.[6] Had he won, Hoff would have been the first Democratic senator in Vermont history. Some attribute his defeat to his opposition to the Vietnam War and his efforts to promote racial justice.

In the 1980s he returned to elective politics, serving three terms in the Vermont State Senate (1983-1989). He has also served in various advisory and honorary positions and as President of the Board of Trustees at Vermont Law School as well as continuing his work as a lawyer in private practice. In 1989, he co-founded his current law firm, Hoff, Curtis.


In 2012, Castleton State College named its newest residence hall after Hoff, the first building to be named in his honor.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Hadad, Herbert (November 8, 1962). "Ex-Football Hero Hoff's Grit, Speed Win Vermont Upset". The Boston Globe. p. 7. 
  2. ^ "Philip H. Hoff". NNDB Soylent Communications. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Philip H. Hoff". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Philip H. Hoff". National Governors Association. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Stewart, Richard (April 5, 1970). "Hoff hopes to be first Vt. Democratic senator". The Boston Globe. p. 24. 
  6. ^ Stewart, Richard (October 8, 1970). "Hoff says he's beaten alcoholism". The Boston Globe. p. 5. 
  7. ^ LeBlanc, Deanna (April 29, 2012). "New Castleton dorm named for Gov. Hoff". WCAX. Burlington, Vt. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

The Vermont Encyclopedia, J. Duffy, S. Hand, R Orth, Editors (University Press of New England, Lebanon, N.H. 2003)

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ray Keyser
Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Deane Davis