Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Garcelon, Alonzo

Alonzo Garcelon (courtesy Maine State Museum)

Alonzo Garcelon (courtesy Maine State Museum)

(1813-1906) born in Lewiston on May 6, 1813, was Maine governor from 1879 to 1870. Educated at academies in Monmouth, Waterville, and Newcastle, he worked his way through Bowdoin College by teaching school, graduating in 1836.

After attending medical school at Dartmouth and the Medical College of Ohio, he returned to Lewiston to open his practice. During the Civil War he became Maine’s Surgeon General.

Not a born partisan, Garcelon was first a Whig, then a Democrat, a Free-Soiler, and by the time of the Civil War, a Republican, largely because of his anti-slavery concerns. However, an opponent of Radical Reconstruction and the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson after the War, he returned to the Democratic fold.

He served in the legislature during the 1850’s. In 1871, though an unsuccessful candidate for Congress, he was elected Mayor of Lewiston.

Although he became Governor in the election of 1878, he received only a bit over twenty-two percent of the popular vote, while incumbent Republican Governor Seldon Connor got twice as much at almost forty-five percent. However, with no candidate having a majority, the Democrats and Greenbackers in the legislature combined to award the election to Garcelon.

A similar situation arose in the following election in 1879, but this time the legislature approved the election of Republican Daniel Davis who had received 49.7 of the popular vote.

Garcelon returned to his medical practice after leaving office, built a Queen Anne style house in Auburn in 1890, and was active in the American Medical Association.

The 1890 Queen Anne style house he built in Auburn is on the National Register of Historic Places. He died while visiting his daughter in Massachusetts on December 8, 1906.

Source: Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States 1789-1978, Volume II. Robert Sobel and John Raimo, editors. Westport, Conn. Meckler Books, 1978.

Additional resources

Chase, Henry. ed. Representative Men of Maine.

Graham, John. Month of Madness: Maine’s Brush with Civil War. Thesis (M.A.)–University of New Hampshire, 1981.

*Kennebec Journal, Augusta, December 10, 1906.

Lister, Brian Cecil.  Alonzo Garcelon, 1813-1906: the man and his times. Thesis (Ph.D.) in History–University of Maine, 1975.

Maine. Legislature. Joint Select Committee on Election Returns. Report of the Joint Select Committee to inquire into the condition of the election returns of September 8th, 1879, and the expenditure of public moneys under the direction of Gov. Garcelon and Council, together with the evidence taken before the Committee, made to the 59th Legislature of Maine. Augusta, ME. Sprague & Son, Printers to the State. 1880.

*McIntyre, Philip W. and Blanding, William F. Men of Progress. Boston: New England Magazine, 1897, pp. 453-455.

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*Cited in Friends of the Blaine House at http://blainehouse.org/governors(accessed April 25, 2011) (accessed April 25, 2011)

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2 Responses to Garcelon, Alonzo

  1. Russell DuPree says:

    Thank you for filling out, with needed bits, the history of Alonzo Garcelon’s governorship.

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