Stanley C. Wilson

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Stanley C. Wilson
Stanley Calef Wilson.jpg
62nd Governor of Vermont
In office
January 8, 1931 – January 10, 1935
LieutenantBenjamin Williams
Charles Manley Smith
Preceded byJohn E. Weeks
Succeeded byCharles Manley Smith
56th Lieutenant Governor of Vermont
In office
GovernorJohn E. Weeks
Preceded byHollister Jackson
Succeeded byBenjamin Williams
Member of the Vermont Senate
In office
Preceded byFrederick H. Bickford
Succeeded byAlfred C. Jackman
President of the Vermont Bar Association
In office
Preceded byWarren Austin
Succeeded byJ. Rolf Searles
Judge of the Vermont Superior Court
In office
Preceded byWillard W. Miles
Succeeded byWarner A. Graham
Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives
In office
Preceded byJohn E. Weeks
Succeeded byCharles S. Dana
Member of the Vermont House of Representatives
In office
Preceded byOliver E. Burgess
Succeeded byAndrew L. Sprague
In office
Preceded byBenjamin H. Adams
Succeeded byFrederick C. Waldo
Chairman of the Vermont Republican Party
In office
Preceded byNelson D. Phelps
Succeeded byJ. Rolfe Searles
State's Attorney of Orange County
In office
Preceded byMarch M. Wilson
Succeeded byFrank S. Williams
Personal details
Stanley Calef Wilson

(1879-09-10)September 10, 1879
Orange, Vermont
DiedOctober 5, 1967(1967-10-05) (aged 88)
Chelsea, Vermont
Resting placeHighland Cemetery, Chelsea, Vermont
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Grace Goodwin Bacon Wilson (1879–1968)[1][2]
Alma materTufts University

Stanley Calef Wilson (September 10, 1879 – October 5, 1967) was an American politician from Vermont. He served as the 56th Lieutenant Governor of Vermont from 1929 to 1931 and the 62nd Governor of Vermont from 1931 to 1935.

A native of Orange, Vermont, Wilson graduated from Tufts University, studied law, attained admission to the bar, and became an attorney in Chelsea. He served in local offices, and was State's Attorney of Orange County for four years. He was Chairman of the Vermont Republican Party from 1914 to 1917. From 1915 to 1917, Wilson served in the Vermont House of Representatives, and he was Speaker of the House in 1917. From 1917 to 1923, Wilson was a judge on the Vermont Superior Court. He was president of the Vermont Bar Association from 1924 to 1925, and he served in the Vermont House again from 1925 to 1927. From 1927 to 1929, Wilson served in the Vermont Senate. He was Lieutenant Governor of Vermont from 1929 to 1931.

In 1930, Wilson was elected Governor of Vermont. He was reelected in 1932, and served from 1931 to 1935. After leaving office, he resumed practicing law and was involved in several business ventures. He died in Chelsea in 1967, and was buried at Highland Cemetery in Chelsea.

Early life[edit]

Stanley C. Wilson was born in Orange, Vermont on September 10, 1879, the son of William W. Wilson (1835–1912) and Lydia (Browning) Wilson (1841–1923).[3] He graduated from Goddard Seminary in Barre in 1896, and then taught school for a year to save enough to begin attending college.[4] In 1897, he became a student at Tufts University, from which he received his bachelor of arts degree in 1901.[4]

After college, Wilson was a reporter for the Montpelier Daily Journal and worked as Deputy Clerk of the Washington County Court and Reporter for the Vermont House of Representatives.[5] In addition, he served in the National Guard for three years as a private in Company H, 1st Vermont Infantry Regiment.[6] Wilson also studied law, first with the firm of William P. Dillingham and Fred A. Howland, and later with Zed S. Stanton.[4] He was admitted to the bar in 1904,[7][8] and went into partnership with Benjamin Gates of Montpelier.[9] Wilson later moved to Chelsea to become the partner of Joseph K. Darling, and took over the practice after Darling died in 1910.[9] He later practiced with other partners, and for several years maintained offices in Chelsea, White River Junction, and Montpelier.[9]

Start of political career[edit]

A Republican, Wilson served in local offices including town meeting moderator and selectman.[10] He was elected State's Attorney of Orange County in 1908, and was reelected in 1910.[9] From 1914 to 1917 he was chairman of the Vermont Republican Party.[11]

Vermont House of Representatives[edit]

He served in the Vermont House of Representatives from 1915 to 1917, and was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.[12] In 1917 he served as Speaker following the resignation of John E. Weeks, who was appointed Director of State Institutions.[9] He resigned from the House upon being appointed to the bench.[9]

Superior Court Judge[edit]

From 1917 to 1923 Wilson served as Judge of the Vermont Superior Court, filling a vacancy created after Chief Judge Willard W. Miles was appointed to the Vermont Supreme Court, and the other superior court judges advanced by seniority.[13] He resigned from the bench to campaign for the Republican nomination for United States Senator following the death of William P. Dillingham, but lost to Porter H. Dale and John W. Redmond, with Dale going on to win the general election.[14][15]

Return to the Vermont House[edit]

From 1924 to 1925, Wilson was president of the Vermont Bar Association.[11] In 1925, he returned to the Vermont House, holding office until 1927.[16] During this term, Wilson served as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.[11]

Vermont State Senate[edit]

Wilson served in the Vermont Senate from 1927 to 1929.[9] He was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which considered appointments to Vermont's state courts as well as review of and updates to Vermont's statutes.[6] While serving in the senate, Wilson also carried out a gubernatorial appointment as chairman of a commission that developed plans for construction of a bridge over Lake Champlain.[6] In addition, Wilson carried out with Hale K. Darling an appointment as special counsel to defend the state's newly-enacted intangibles tax in court.[17]

Lieutenant Governor[edit]

In 1928 Wilson was elected Lieutenant Governor, and he served from 1929 to 1931.[18][19] During his tenure as presiding officer, the state senate took the lead on legislation reorganizing the Central Vermont Railway, providing a loan to the West River Railway so that it could continue operations, modernizing the state banking system, appointing a commission to reduce and standardize electric rates, regulating billboards, and increasing the governor's salary.[20]


In 1930 he won election as Governor and served two terms, 1931 to 1935.[21] Wilson's two terms were marked by efforts to recover from the Flood of 1927, and to deal with the effects of the Great Depression.[22] He was also a delegate to the 1932 Republican National Convention.[11]

In attaining the governorship, Wilson adhered to the provision of the Republican Party's "Mountain Rule," which required candidates to alternate between the east and west sides of the Green Mountains.[23] However Wilson also ran for a second term, as had his predecessor John E. Weeks.[24] A second term violated the Mountain Rule provision that limited governors to two years in office.[25] Weeks argued that there needed to be continuity in office so that the state could continue its efforts to recover from the 1927 flood.[25] Wilson argued that he needed to both continue flood recovery efforts and to combat the negative economic effects of the Great Depression, and his reelection served to modify the Mountain Rule.[26] Beginning with Weeks and Wilson, two terms (four years) in office became more or less standard.[27] Along with changes including the direct election of United States Senators and party primary elections, Weeks's and Wilson's willingness to go against tradition were seen as further eroding the Mountain Rule, one of the primary tools for maintaining discipline within the ranks of the Republican Party.[27]

Wilson stated in later interviews that he regarded the passage of the state income tax as his greatest accomplishment as governor, because it added stability to the state's economy.[11] The income tax was preferred to other means of raising revenue because personal income was easier for the state to locate than other sources.[28] As a result of the income tax's success, the state was able to eliminate the state highway tax, education property tax, intangibles tax, and general statewide property tax.[29]

Post gubernatorial career[edit]

After leaving the governor's office Wilson practiced law in Chelsea with F. Ray Keyser Sr., Deane C. Davis and J. Ward Carver.[30] Their firm has been referred to by historians as Vermont's best ever collection of legal talent, in that it included two Governors (Wilson and Davis), one state Attorney General (Carver), and one state Supreme Court Justice (Keyser).[31] After this firm dissolved, Wilson continued to practice law in Chelsea.[11]

Business career[edit]

Wilson owned and operated a working dairy farm.[11] He was also active in numerous business ventures throughout his career, and a partial list includes: member of the board of directors of the National Bank of Orange County and Hartford Savings Bank and Trust Company; vice president and director of the Brocklebank Granite Company and Brocklebank Manufacturing Company; board member of the Green Mountain Mutual Fire Insurance Company, the Vermont Flood Credit Corporation, and the Orange County Creamery Company.[9] Wilson was also president of the Gates Realty Company.[9] In addition, he was a partner in the reorganization of the Vermont Copper Company, and served as its Secretary and President.[32][33]

Civic activism[edit]

Wilson was an officer or director of numerous civic and professional organizations, including member of the board of directors of the New England Council, and director of the Vermont Dairymen's Association, Vermont Maple Sugar Maker's Association, Vermont Forestry Association, and Orange County Farm Bureau.[9] He was also a member of the executive committee for the Owl Council, Boy Scouts of America.[9] In addition, Wilson was active in Modern Woodmen of America and the Chelsea Grange organization.[9]

Long active in Freemasonry, Wilson's membership included: Chelsea's George Washington Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons; Whitney Chapter of Royal Arch Masons (Randolph); Mt. Zion Commandery, Knights Templar (Montpelier); and Mt. Sinai Temple, Shriners International (Montpelier).[9]

In 1952, Wilson was the driving force behind the establishment of a community hospital, the Chelsea Health Center, the first community-owned nonprofit health center in the nation.[34]

Wilson was also interested in higher education, and was an officer of the Tufts College Alumni Association.[35] He served for over 50 years on the Norwich University Board of Trustees, including 15 years as Chairman.[36] In addition, he was an executive committee member for the Goddard Seminary board of directors.[9]

Death and burial[edit]

Wilson died in Chelsea on October 5, 1967.[37][38] He was buried at Highland Cemetery in Chelsea.[39]


In 1909, Wilson married Grace Goodwin Bacon Wilson (1879–1968).[9] They were married until his death, and had no children.[11]


Norwich University's Wilson Hall is named in his honor.[40][41] In addition, Wilson received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Norwich University (1927), Tufts University (1931), and the University of Vermont (1932).[42]


  1. ^ Vermont Marriage Records, 1909–2008, entry for Stanley Calef Wilson and Grace Bacon, April 22, 1909, accessed December 18, 2011
  2. ^ Vermont Death Records, 1909–2008, entry for Grace Bacon Wilson, accessed December 18, 2011
  3. ^ Stone, Arthur F. (1929). The Vermont of Today. III. New York, NY: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. p. 7.
  4. ^ a b c The Vermont of Today, p. 7.
  5. ^ "Biographical Note, Stanley C. Wilson". Stanley Calef Wilson Papers. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont Libraries. Retrieved July 22, 2018.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  6. ^ a b c "Biographical Note, Stanley C. Wilson".
  7. ^ Encyclopedia of Vermont Biography, by Prentiss Cutler Dodge, 1912, page 360
  8. ^ Newspaper article, Stanley Wilson, Former Governor of Vermont Dies, by Associated Press, published in North Adams Transcript, October 6, 1967
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o The Vermont of Today, p. 8.
  10. ^ "Former Gov. Wilson Dies". Burlington Free Press. Burlington, VT. October 6, 1967. pp. 1, 14 – via maint: extra punctuation (link)
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h "Former Gov. Wilson Dies", pp. 1, 14.
  12. ^ Who's Who in Government, published by Biographical Research Bureau, Inc., Volume 1, 1930, page 676
  13. ^ American Legislative Leaders in the Northeast, 1911–1994, by James Roger Sharp and Nancy Weatherly Sharp, 2000, page 226
  14. ^ "Porter H. Dale Sweeps the State in Senatorial Primaries". Middlebury Register. Middlebury, VT. October 12, 1923. p. 1 – via
  15. ^ "Porter H. Dale U.S. Senator". Essex County Herald. Island Pond, VT. November 8, 1923. p. 1 – via
  16. ^ The International Who's Who, published by Europa Publications Limited, 1943, page 917
  17. ^ "Intangible Property Case Up In November". Burlington Free Press. Burlington, VT. September 28, 1927. p. 2 – via
  18. ^ 10,000 Famous Freemasons, by William R. Denslow and Harry S. Truman, Volume 3 (K to Z), 2004, page 336
  19. ^ Newspaper article, Weeks Picked in Vermont, by Associated Press, published in Biddeford Weekly Journal, September 12, 1930
  20. ^ "3-Way Tax Bill Will provide $17,000,000, Appropriations for Next Vermont Biennium". Burlington Free Press. Burlington, VT. March 18, 1929. p. 3 – via
  21. ^ Biography, Stanley Calef Wilson, National Governors Association, accessed December 18, 2011
  22. ^ Farewell Address of Stanley C. Wilson, Journal of the Vermont Joint Assembly, published by Vermont State Legislature, January 10, 1935, pages 1 to 10
  23. ^ Clifford, Deborah Pickman; Clifford, Nicholas Rowland (2007). "The Troubled Roar of the Waters": Vermont in Flood and Recovery, 1927–1931. Lebanon, NH: University of New Hampshire Press. pp. 130–131. ISBN 978-1-58465-654-8.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  24. ^ "The Troubled Roar of the Waters", pp. 130-131.
  25. ^ a b "The Troubled Roar of the Waters", pp. 130–131.
  26. ^ Hand, Samuel B. (2002). The Star That Set: The Vermont Republican Party, 1854–1974. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-7391-0600-6.
  27. ^ a b The Star That Set: The Vermont Republican Party, 1854–1974, p. 126.
  28. ^ Gilles, Paul (Winter 1997). "The Evolution of the Vermont State Tax System" (PDF). Vermont History. Montpelier, VT: Vermont Historical Society. p. 3`.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  29. ^ "The Evolution of the Vermont State Tax System", p. 31.
  30. ^ "Obituary, F. Ray Keyser Sr". The Herald. Randolph, VT. March 15, 2001.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  31. ^ "Obituary, F. Ray Keyser Sr.".
  32. ^ The Vermont encyclopedia, by John J. Duffy, Samuel B. Hand and Ralph H. Orth, 2003, page 302
  33. ^ Copper Company Formed To Operate in Vermont, by Associated Press, published in New York Times, April 17, 1942
  34. ^ Newspaper article, Chelsea Health Center To Build a New Home By Cornelia Cesari, by Cornelia Cesari, Randolph Herald, March 26, 2009
  35. ^ Miller, Russell E. (1966). Light on the Hill: A History of Tufts College 1852–1952. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. p. 437.
  36. ^ "About the Honorees". The Bicentennial Stairs. Northfield, VT: Norwich University. 2017.
  37. ^ Ex-Gov. S. C. Wilson of Vermont is Dead, New York Times, October 6, 1967
  38. ^ Newspaper article, Former Governor Dies at 88, by United Press International, published in Bennington Banner, October 6, 1967
  39. ^ Vermont Death Records, 1909–2008, entry for Stanley Calef Wilson, accessed December 18, 2011
  40. ^ Biography, Stanley C. Wilson, University of Vermont, Stanley C. Wilson Papers Collection, accessed December 18, 2011
  41. ^ Residence Halls page, Norwich University web site, accessed December 18, 2011
  42. ^ Schwarz, Julius Caesar (1937). Who's Who In Law. 1. New York, NY: J. C. Schwarz. p. 1029.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John E. Weeks
Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Charles S. Dana
Preceded by
Hollister Jackson
Lieutenant Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Benjamin Williams
Preceded by
John E. Weeks
Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Charles M. Smith