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Alvan T. Fuller

Alvan Tufts Fuller
50th Governor of Massachusetts
In office
January 8, 1925 – January 3, 1929
Lieutenant Frank G. Allen
Preceded by Channing H. Cox
Succeeded by Frank G. Allen
48th Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts
In office
January 6, 1921 – January 8, 1925
Governor Channing H. Cox
Preceded by Channing H. Cox
Succeeded by Frank G. Allen
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1917 – January 5, 1921
Preceded by Ernest W. Roberts
Succeeded by Charles L. Underhill
Personal details
Born (1878-02-27)February 27, 1878
Charlestown, Boston, Massachusetts
Died April 30, 1958(1958-04-30) (aged 80)
Boston, Massachusetts
Political party Republican
Children Peter Fuller
Profession Motor Car Dealer

Alvan Tufts Fuller (February 27, 1878 – April 30, 1958) was the Governor of Massachusetts from 1925 to 1929. Earlier he had a business career and became one of the wealthiest men in America, owning what in 1920 was recognized as "the world's most successful auto dealership." He was elected a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1916, and served as a United States Representative from Massachusetts from 1917 to 1921.


  • Biography 1
  • Family 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


He was born in Boston on February 27, 1878. He attended the public schools and first worked in the bicycle business. He founded and grew wealthy from his ownership of Boston's Packard dealership. He served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1916. He was elected as a Republican to the Sixty-fifth Congress and reelected to the Sixty-sixth Congress, serving from March 4, 1917, to January 5, 1921.[1] Fuller served as the 48th Lieutenant Governor from 1921 to 1925, and he was elected 50th Governor in 1924. He was reelected to a second two-year term. He did not accept compensation for services while in public office.[2]

As governor, Fuller faced a significant budget deficit that required initiatives to reduce expenditures and downsize government operations. His term as governor also coincided with the Sacco and Vanzetti affair, a series of trials for murder and robbery followed by legal appeals that culminated in calls for the governor to commute the death sentences of the two Italian immigrants. Governor Fuller appointed a three-member panel of Harvard President Abbott Lawrence Lowell, MIT President Dr. Samuel W. Stratton, and retired Probate Judge Robert Grant to conduct a complete review of the case and determine if the trials were fair.[3] The committee reported that no new trial was called for and based on that assessment Governor Fuller refused to delay their executions or grant clemency. On May 10, 1927, while Fuller was considering requests for clemency, a package bomb addressed to him was intercepted in the Boston post office.[4] A few months after the executions, he endorsed proposals to reform the state's judicial procedures to require a more thorough review of capital cases.[5]

In 1928, he was an early supporter of Herbert Hoover's presidential campaign, after considering his own run for the presidency,[6] and was rumored to be a candidate for a federal government post if Hoover won,[7] possibly as ambassador to France.[8]

After leaving office, he became chairman of the board of Cadillac-Oldsmobile Co. of Boston and continued to develop his reputation as a patron of arts and music.[9] He died in Boston on April 30, 1958.[1]

He was a superb collector of art and among those painters represented in his collection were Romney, Boccaccino,[11] Boucher and Reynolds. His paintings were donated to the National Gallery of Art in Washington and The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Donations include: Monet's "The Water Lily Pond," Renoir's "Boating Couple," and van Dyck's "Princess Mary, Daughter of Charles I."[12]

His philanthropy was wide ranging and included art, hospitals, education, religion, municipalities and social services. He established The Fuller Foundation, Inc., during his lifetime and it was, and continues to be, the instrument through which many charitable agencies have benefited in the Greater Boston and Seacoast area of New Hampshire.

He was interred in East Cemetery in Rye Beach, New Hampshire,[13] where he had a summer home.[7]

His wife, Viola Theresa Davenport Fuller, died in 1959. She had a brief career as an opera singer, performing in Paris and then debuting in Boston in 1910. She and the governor had four children, two boys and two girls.[14]


His youngest son, Peter Fuller, an avid supporter of civil rights, was the owner of Dancer's Image, the horse that won the Kentucky Derby in 1968.[15] Fuller was stripped of his winning title because a banned drug was found in the horse's urine. He and his supporters claimed he had been singled out because he had recently donated a winner's purse of $77,415 from a different race to Coretta Scott King, the widow of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had been assassinated a month earlier, and who the year before had disrupted derby events by demonstrating against housing discrimination in nearby Louisville. He lost a four-year legal battle to retain the Kentucky Derby title and prize money.[16]

As of 2014 the family business lives on in Watertown and Waltham Massachusetts where the Grandson of Alvan T. Fuller, son of Peter Fuller, operates a car rental, 15 passenger van rental, and pre-owned vehicle businesses. They still operate with the original Massachusetts dealer number 1, originally obtained by Alvan T. Fuller. The current companies website car rental website is here.


  1. ^ a b Time: "Milestones, May 12, 1958", accessed July 24, 2010
  2. ^ New York Times: "Fuller Explains Refusal of Salary, September 20, 1926, accessed July 24, 2010
  3. ^ New York Times: "Appoints Advisers for Sacco Inquiry," June 2, 1927, accessed January 6, 2010
  4. ^ Bruce Watson, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind (NY: Viking Press, 2007), 303-4
  5. ^ New York Times: "Fuller Urges Change in Criminal Appeals," January 5, 1928, accessed June 22, 2010
  6. ^ New York Times: F. Lauriston Bullard, "Bay Staters Cast Fuller's Hat in Ring," January 29, 1928, accessed July 24, 2010
  7. ^ a b New York Times: "Gov. Fuller Won't Run," June 26, 1928, accessed July 24, 2010
  8. ^ New York Times: "Says Ex-Gov. Fuller is Paris Post Choice," March 21, 1929, accessed July 24, 2010
  9. ^ New York Times: "Gov. Fuller Pays $31,000 for Painting," February 19, 1926, accessed July 24, 2010
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ New York Times: Mrs. Alvan Fuller Dies," August 5, 1959, accessed July 24, 2010
  15. ^
  16. ^

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ernest W. Roberts
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 9th congressional district

March 4, 1917 – January 5, 1921
Succeeded by
Charles L. Underhill
Political offices
Preceded by
Channing H. Cox
Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Frank G. Allen
Preceded by
Channing H. Cox
Governor of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Frank G. Allen
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