Starting in the 1870s, the Proctor family assumed a leadership role that allowed it to run the state, with few interruptions, for some 80 years. Redfield Proctor, founder of the Vermont Marble Co., was elected governor in 1878; his son Fletcher, in 1906; Redfield, Jr., in 1922; and Fletcher's son, Mortimer, in 1944.In between most of the governors were Proctor candidates chosen from the allied worlds of industry, utilities, railroads, and insurance.
In 1946, Ernest W. Gibson, a war hero with a famous name of his own, that of his father, a highly regarded U.S. senator, challenged the re-election of Mortimer Proctor. Both men were Republicans and the fight was in the Republican primary.
Gibson ran as the radical outsider, calling Proctor's administration "a study in still life," and said it was time to end the rule of succession: "Under this rule a relatively small clique of people choose governors nearly 10 years in advance, supporting them up a series of political steps to the highest office."
The irony of the challenge was that Mortimer Proctor had done a great deal to improve the state's health, welfare and education and was considered one of the state's more progressive governors.
But Gibson won the primary and the General Election in a victory the Rutland Herald described as "a repudiation by Vermont voters of political practices and traditions that have been long established -- a rebellion, not against outright mismanagement and inefficiency in the state government at Montpelier, but rather against the inertia and lack of aggressiveness of administration policies."
This website is a member of the Vermont Today Community.
© 1999 Vermont New Media
VermontToday and Vermont New Media are products of the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus.