William A. Gaston
|Born||May 1, 1859|
|Died||July 17, 1927 (aged 68)|
William Alexander Gaston (May 1, 1859–July 17, 1927) was an American lawyer, banker, and politician who was the Democratic Party nominee for Governor of Massachusetts in 1902, 1903, and 1926 and the United States Senate in 1922. Outside of politics, Gaston served as president of the Boston Elevated Railway and National Shawmut Bank.
Gaston was born on May 1, 1859 in Roxbury, Massachusetts to William and Louisa Augusta (Beecher) Gaston. His father was Governor of Massachusetts from 1875 to 1876. Gaston graduated from Roxbury Latin School in 1876 and Harvard College in 1880. In 1879 he defeated Ramon Guiteras to win the Harvard's middleweight boxing championship. One of Gaston's seconds in the fight was Theodore Roosevelt. Gaston went on to graduate from Harvard Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1883. On April 9, 1892 he married Mary Davidson Lockwood. They had four children. Gaston resided in Boston, had a summer home on the Fox Islands in North Haven, and owned a 15,000 acre farm in Barre, Massachusetts, where he keep his champion cows.
After passing the bar, Gaston joined his father's law firm, Gaston and Whitney. He eventually became a partner in the firm and in 1890 the firm's name changed to William Gaston and William A. Gaston. Frederick E. Snow was admitted as a partner in 1892 and the firm became Gaston and Snow. Richard M. Saltonstall joined in 1899 and the firm grew to become the largest in Boston. Gaston became a trustee of 15 estates in Boston and was the largest trustees in the city's who did not pursue trusteeship as a career.
In 1896, Gaston led a group that purchased the Boston Elevated Railway Company. As president of the railway he organized the city's various street railways into a single entity. He raised wages of railway employees and introduced worker's compensation. In 1899, his other business interests required him to step down in favor of William Bancroft. He remained with the company as chairman of the board until 1901.
Gaston was a founding director of the National Shawmut Bank. On May 2, 1907, Gaston was elected president of the bank, which by then was the largest in New England. He successfully led the bank through the Panic of 1907. He remained president until 1917 and then served as chairman of the board until 1923.
In 1901, Gaston was mentioned by Democratic party chairman William S. McNary as a possible candidate for Governor of Massachusetts. He withdrew from the race in favor of uniting the party behind Josiah Quincy. Quincy was defeated by Republican Winthrop M. Crane and chose not to run in 1902, which made Gaston and Charles Sumner Hamlin the frontrunners for the nomination. Gaston defeated Hamlin at the state convention 1004 votes to 232. Gaston lost the election to Republican John L. Bates 49% to 40%. Gaston was again the Democratic nominee for Governor in 1903, losing to Bates a second time 50% to 41%.
Gaston was elected as an at-large delegate to the 1904 Democratic National Convention as part of a slate of candidates that supported Richard Olney. Later that year he was elected to Massachusetts' seat on the Democratic National Committee. Olney refused to run for president and at the 1904 convention, Gaston and the Massachusetts delegation backed Alton B. Parker and a platform that supported the gold standard. He also considered running for Governor in 1904, but in September announced that he would not run. On October 17, 1905, Gaston announced that he would retire from politics following that year's election.
Gaston returned to politics in 1910 as a candidate for the United States Senate. He entered the race on November 18, but dropped out on December 21 as he believed Democratic Governor-elect Eugene Foss's campaign to elect a progressive Republican to the seat had spoiled the Democrats' chance of electing one of their own. During the 1912 United States Presidential Election, Gaston helped raise money for Woodrow Wilson's campaign. Following Wilson's election, Gaston's friends pushed for his appointment as United States Secretary of the Navy, a position that traditionally went to man from New England. The position instead went to someone outside of New England - Josephus Daniels. Following the passage of Federal Reserve Act, Gaston was mentioned as a possible member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
On July 31, 1918, Gaston announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Governor. Three days later Frederick Mansfield dropped out of the race in favor of Gaston. However, Gaston was defeated in the primary election by Richard H. Long 39% to 34% (former Lieutenant Governor Edward P. Barry received the remaining 27%). In 1920, nomination papers were circulated on Gaston's behalf, however on July 28, Gaston decided not to enter the Governor's race, as he did not believe he had the full support of the party.
On April 8, 1922, Gaston announced that he was running in that year's election United States Senate seat held by Republican Henry Cabot Lodge. He won the four candidate Democratic primary with 51% of the vote. He narrowly lost the general election to Lodge by less than 1% (414,130 to 406,776).
Before the 1924 Democratic National Convention, the Massachusetts delegation discussed nominating Gaston for vice president in the event the convention became deadlocked and a "dark horse" candidate won the presidential nomination. The nomination was indeed won by a dark horse (John W. Davis) and Gaston was nominated for vice president by Winfield Tucker of Massachusetts. Charles W. Bryan won the vice presidential nomination on the first ballot.
In 1926, Gaston was persuaded to once again serve as the Democrats' candidate for Governor. He ran unopposed in the primary after the only other candidate who was considering a gubernatorial run, Joseph B. Ely, was instead convinced to run for Lieutenant Governor. Gaston lost to Republican incumbent Alvan T. Fuller 59% to 40%. It would be Gaston's final campaign as he died on July 17, 1927 at his farm in Barre.
- "Col William Gaston Dies At Barre Farm". The Boston Daily Globe. July 18, 1927.
- "Col. William A. Gaston: A Master of Finance and an Advocate of Reciprocity". The Inter-Nation. February 16, 1905. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
- "Handle Millions". The Boston Daily Globe. April 11, 1896.
- "Gaston Out For Governorship". The Boston Daily Globe. August 1, 1918.
- "Changes in Boston Elevated". The Boston Daily Globe. October 14, 1899.
- "New Head of Shawmut Bank". The New York Times. November 2, 1917.
- "Bucklin President Of National Shawmut". The Boston Daily Globe. September 14, 1923.
- "Col Gaston Decide To Retire From Politics". The Boston Daily Globe. October 18, 1905.
- "May Bear The Standard". The Boston Daily Globe. February 19, 1901.
- "In Favor Of Quincy". The Boston Daily Globe. September 4, 1901.
- "Fall Campaign". The Boston Daily Globe. February 13, 1902.
- "Democracy To Be Led By William A. Gaston". The Boston Daily Globe. September 18, 1902.
- "Number of assessed polls, registered voters and persons who voted in each voting precinct in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the state, city and town elections". Retrieved May 2, 2019.
- "Full Victory For Olney Men". The Boston Daily Globe. April 22, 1904.
- "Gaston Succeeds Geo. Fred Williams". The Boston Daily Globe. May 15, 1904.
- "Home At Last". The Boston Daily Globe. July 12, 1904.
- "Gaston Out". The Boston Daily Globe. September 9, 1904.
- "Gaston Is Out Of It". The Boston Daily Globe. December 22, 1910.
- "Boom Gaston For Cabinet". The Boston Daily Globe. November 20, 1912.
- "Gaston is Mentioned". The Boston Daily Globe. December 19, 1913.
- "Mansfield Retires In Favor Of Gaston". The Boston Daily Globe. August 4, 1918.
- "Long Wins Over Gaston By 2700". The Boston Daily Globe. September 25, 1918.
- "Gaston Declines To Run For Governor". The Boston Daily Globe. July 29, 1920.
- "Will Seek Lodge's Seat". The Boston Daily Globe. April 9, 1922.
- "Big Majorities For Cox and Lodge; Fitzgerald and Pelletier Win". The Boston Daily Globe. September 13, 1922.
- Office of the Secretary of Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1922). Number of assessed polls, registered voters and persons who voted in each voting precinct in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the state, city and town elections. p. 320.
- Official Report of the Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention Held in Madison Square Garden, New York City, June 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, July 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9, 1924, Resulting in the Nomination of John W. Davis (of West Virginia) for President and Charles W. Bryan (of Nebraska) for Vice-president. Bookwalter-Ball-Greathouse Printing Co. 1924.
- Merrill, John D. (July 27, 1926). "Democrats Enlist Gaston To Top Ticket With Walsh". The Boston Daily Globe.
- Merrill, John D. (July 30, 1926). "Ely Accepts Place On Gaston's Ticket". The Boston Daily Globe.
- Office of the Secretary of Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Number of assessed polls, registered voters and persons who voted in each voting precinct in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the state, city and town elections.
Thomas W. Hyde
| President of the Boston Elevated Railway
James P. Stearns
| President of National Shawmut Bank
Alfred L. Aiken
|Party political offices|
James Michael Curley
| Democratic nominee for Governor of Massachusetts
William Lewis Douglas
Charles H. Cole
John F. Fitzgerald
| Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
David I. Walsh
George F. Williams
| Democratic National Committeeman from Massachusetts
John W. Coughlin