|Chair of the National Governors Association|
January 3, 1949 – June 19, 1949
|Preceded by||Lester C. Hunt|
|Succeeded by||Frank Carlson|
|52nd Governor of Maryland|
January 3, 1947 – January 10, 1951
|Preceded by||Herbert O'Conor|
|Succeeded by||Theodore McKeldin|
|Attorney General of Maryland|
|Preceded by||Thomas H. Robinson|
|Succeeded by||Herbert O'Conor|
William Preston Lane Jr.
May 12, 1892
Hagerstown, Maryland, U.S.
|Died||February 7, 1967 (aged 74)|
Hagerstown, Maryland, U.S.
|Resting place||Rose Hill Cemetery |
|Education||University of Virginia (LLB)|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Unit||115th Infantry Regiment|
29th Infantry Division
Early life and education
Lane was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, on May 12, 1892, to William Preston Lane and Virginia Cartwright Lane. He attended public school in Hagerstown before graduating from the University of Virginia in 1915 with a law degree. He subsequently joined the law firm Lane, Bushong, and Byron in his hometown, where he also served on the vestry of Saint John's Church. Lane served during the Mexican Border Campaign (1916) as a captain in the Maryland National Guard.
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Lane joined the 115th Infantry Regiment as a captain and served in France during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions at Bois-des-Consevoye, where he assisted in the evacuation of wounded after a bridge was destroyed by enemy fire. He continued service in the military after the war as Assistant Division Adjutant of the 29th Division at the rank of major.
Upon his return from service, Lane resumed the practice of law and began testing a career in politics. He ran for but lost the seat of Washington County State's Attorney in 1919. After his defeat, he served as the president of a small newspaper company, as president of a tannery, and as a railroad executive. He married Dorothy Byron on January 17, 1922, and had two daughters, Dorothy and Jean.
Attorney General of Maryland
In 1928, Lane returned to politics when he was elected to the school board of Washington County. In 1930, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General of Maryland died unexpectedly and a replacement had to be found. Since Lane had formed a friendship with Albert Ritchie, the Governor of Maryland, he was placed on the ticket and won the seat by a large margin over his Republican opponent.
The highlight of Lane's career as Attorney General was his pursuit of a lynching prosecution on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 1933. Two years earlier on the Shore, a notorious lynching had occurred in Salisbury (the lynching of Matthew Williams), the response to which by Attorney-General Lane and Governor Ritchie was heavily criticized. Subsequently, another black man, George Armwood, was arrested and charged with raping a white woman in the adjoining Somerset County and was being held prisoner by police in Princess Anne. However, a mob overran the police and kidnapped Armwood, badly beating, stabbing and mutilating him before the hanging, then burning his body in front of the nearby courthouse. Local police did not pursue prosecution of the lynch mob, but Lane took charge of the investigation. The Maryland State Police and militia were called out by Governor Ritchie to assist, which resulted in further mob violence and arrests on the Eastern Shore, which damaged Lane's reputation.
As Attorney General, Lane also pleaded two cases before the United States Supreme Court involving the assessment of submerged lands and the state's right to tax condemned federal lands. Lane chose not to seek re-election in 1934.
After his tenure as Attorney General, Lane remained very active in state and national politics. From 1940 to 1950, he served as a member of the Democratic National Committee from Maryland, and he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from 1928 to 1948. In 1944, Lane managed Franklin Roosevelt's Maryland campaign for re-election as President of the United States. Lane also remained active in business, serving as president of an aircraft corporation and a bridge company. He also kept active in law as a member of the firm Lane and Mish.
Governor of Maryland
In 1946, Lane decided to run for governor. In the Democratic primary election, he defeated challengers J. Millard Tawes and H. Streett Baldwin, and then defeated Republican Theodore R. McKeldin in the general election 54% to 45%. As governor, Lane and his administration worked towards improving the public education, mental health, and highway systems of the state. A newspaper report published in 1949 exposed serious flaws in the treatment of the mentally ill in the state, which resulted in the creation of the Department of Mental Hygiene and turned Maryland's mental hospitals by the end of the Lane administration into some of the best in the nation. Major highway improvements which had been deferred by World War II were also put in motion by Lane, which were funded by the enactment in 1947 of Maryland's first state sales tax. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which now carries his name, was completed in 1952 under this plan. Several historic state facilities were also renovated during Lane's tenure, including the Maryland State House which had not been adequately preserved since its construction in 1772.
Lane faced George P. Mahoney, a perennial candidate, in the 1950 Democratic primary election held on September 18, 1950. The primary was close and bruising, and left the Lane campaign weakened for the general election against Theodore McKeldin, his opponent in the 1946 election. Additionally, his unpopular sales tax to fund road improvements had caused significant dissent in the state and was used by McKeldin to pull votes away from Lane. On November 7, 1950, Lane was defeated in the general election by 94,000 votes, 57% to 42%. At that point, it was the largest margin of defeat in Maryland history. Lane's term as governor ended on January 10, 1951.
- William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge (more commonly known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge).
- Lane Building (demolished in 2006) on the campus of Springfield State Hospital Center, Sykesville, Maryland.
- "William Preston Lane, Jr. (1892-1967) Biographical Series; Governor of Maryland, 1947-1951 (Democrat)". Archives of Maryland, MSA SC 3520-1483. Maryland State Government. 12 July 2001. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
- White, Jr., Frank F. (1970). The Governors of Maryland 1777-1970. Annapolis: The Hall of Records Commission. p. 279-283. ISBN 978-0942370010.
- "William Preston Lane papers". umd.edu. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
- "William Preston Lane, Jr. (1892-1967)". Maryland State Archives. Annapolis. 9 December 1998. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
- "Matthew Williams (1908-1931) Biographical Series; Lynched in Salisbury, December 4, 1931". Archives of Maryland, MSA SC 3520-13749. Maryland State Government. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
- "George Armwood (1911-1933) Biographical Series; Lynched in Princess Anne, October 18, 1933". Archives of Maryland, MSA SC 3520-13750. Maryland State Government. 9 March 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
- Roxanne Pile-Beaton (22 October 2014). "MdTA: Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge Improvement Project". state.md.us. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
Thomas H. Robinson
| Attorney General of Maryland
| Governor of Maryland
Lester C. Hunt
| Chair of the National Governors Association
|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for Governor of Maryland