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Frederic T. Greenhalge

Frederic Thomas Greenhalge
38th Governor of Massachusetts
In office
January 4, 1894 – March 5, 1896
Lieutenant Roger Wolcott
Preceded by William E. Russell
Succeeded by Roger Wolcott
Member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts's 8th district
In office
March 4, 1889 – March 3, 1891
Preceded by Charles H. Allen
Succeeded by Moses T. Stevens
Mayor of Lowell, Massachusetts
In office
Personal details
Born (1842-07-19)July 19, 1842
Clitheroe, England
Died March 5, 1896(1896-03-05) (aged 53)
Lowell, Massachusetts
Political party Republican

Frederic Thomas Greenhalge (born Greenhalgh) (July 19, 1842 – March 5, 1896) was a British-born lawyer and politician in the United States state of Massachusetts. He served in the United States House of Representatives and was the state's 38th governor. He was elected three consecutive times, but died early in his third term.


  • Life 1
  • Notes 2
  • Sources 3
  • External links 4


Frederic Thomas Greenhalge was born in Clitheroe, Lancashire, England on July 19, 1842, to William Greenhalgh and Jane (Slater) Greenhalgh.[1] He was the only son (of seven children).[2] His father, the supervisor of a printing operation, was descended from the Greenhalghs, a family of longstanding note in Lancashire.[3] The family moved first to Eshton and then Edenfield, where the young Greenhalge (who would change the spelling of his name as an adult) attended private school.[4] In 1855 the family immigrated to Lowell, Massachusetts, where the father had been offered a job heading the printing department of the Merrimack Manufacturing Company.[5]

Greenhalge attended the public schools of Lowell, where he excelled academically and participated in debating societies.[6] In 1859 he enrolled in Harvard College, where he was a member of the Institute of 1770. He left Harvard after three years because his father died.[7] He taught school in Chelmsford, Massachusetts and studied law. During the Civil War he served with the Union Army in New Bern, North Carolina for five months. He was admitted to the bar in Lowell in 1865 and served in the common council of Lowell in 1868 and 1869. He then became a member of the school committee in 1871, holding that post until 1873. He had a private legal practice and was also a judge in the Lowell Police Court from 1874 to 1884.

On October 1, 1872, Greenhalge married Isabella (or Isabel) Nesmith, and they had three children: Nesmith Greenhalge (1873–1874), Frederic B. Greenhalge (1875–?), and Harriet Nesmith Greenhalge (1878–?).

He was then mayor of Lowell in 1880 and 1881 and an unsuccessful candidate for election to the Massachusetts Senate in 1881. He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1884 and a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1885 but was unsuccessful in his bid for reelection. He became city solicitor in 1888, practicing law in Middlesex and other counties. He was elected as a Republican to the Fifty-first Congress, serving from March 4, 1889 to March 3, 1891 but failed in 1890 to be re-elected to Congress. However, he was subsequently elected the 38th Governor of Massachusetts after a ferocious 1893 campaign and served from January 1894 until his death in Lowell. While governor, the Commonwealth paid off its last public debt and he proclaimed the first Patriots' Day, ending the 200-year-old Fast Day celebration in Massachusetts. Perhaps his greatest test in office came in February 1894 when an angry mob of 5,000 gathered in front of the State House to demand unemployment subsidies; he came out of his office to address them and promise them relief, whereupon their anger subsided. Frederic Thomas Greenhalge died in office on March 5, 1896; businesses and schools closed in his honor. At his funeral Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and Harvard President Charles William Eliot served as pallbearers; he is buried in Lowell Cemetery.


  1. ^ Nesmith, p. 9
  2. ^ Nesmith, p. 13
  3. ^ Nesmith, pp. 6, 9
  4. ^ Nesmith, p. 10
  5. ^ Nesmith, p. 11
  6. ^ Nesmith, pp. 14, 19, 26
  7. ^ Nesmith, pp. 26, 33


  • Nesmith, James (1897). The Life and Work of Frederic T. Greenhalge: Governor of Massachusetts. Boston: Roberts Bros.  

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Charles H. Allen
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Moses T. Stevens
Political offices
Preceded by
William Russell
Governor of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Roger Wolcott
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