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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 805

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This is the grave of Ernest Gibson.

Born in 1871 or 1872 (grave says 1871, Wikipedia 1872) in Londonderry, Vermont, Gibson grew up middle class and went to high school with Calvin Coolidge. He went to Norwich University, graduated in 1894, and stayed there for a master’s degree which he got in 1896. He then attended the University of Michigan Law School and got that degree and passed the bar in 1899. He moved back to Vermont and started practicing law in Brattleboro. Like his old school chum Coolidge, Gibson was a strong Republican but very much unlike the future president, he identified more on the Progressive wing of the party at the time that Theodore Roosevelt was representing that in the Oval Office. He was elected to the Vermont legislature in 1906 and then the state senate in 1908, though he only served one term. As an internal party leader, he put his party loyalty over his political preferences in 1912, working to hold the party line for William Howard Taft instead of the Bull Moose Party of Theodore Roosevelt.

Although an important internal player in Vermont, other than that short time in the state house, until the 1920s, Gibson did not run for public office. He served in various internal positions in the party. He also volunteered for World War I as a captain in the 1st Vermont Infantry. He had actually been called up in Pershing’s ridiculous attempt to catch Pancho Villa in northern Mexico after the raid on Columbus, New Mexico in 1916. During the war, he mostly served in training at a camp in South Carolina before sailing to France in September 1918. So he never saw action. He was discharged from the military in 1919, though remained in the Vermont National Guard as a colonel.

Upon return to Vermont, Gibson became the state attorney for Windham County in 1919 and stayed in the position until 1921. In 1923, Gibson decided to run for Congress. He won and served four terms. His main service in the House was as Chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Treasury and the Committee on Territories. So he was a relatively minor player, but not a non-entity.

In 1933, Senator Porter Dale died. Gibson was appointed to replace him. In 1934, Gibson won the special election to complete the term and then in 1938 won a full term of his own. With Republicans so wildly in the minority most of this time, he wasn’t much of a factor it the Senate. Then he up and died of pneumonia in 1940 while in Washington. He was 67 years old. His son replaced him in the Senate and then later became governor of Vermont.

Ernest Gibson is buried in Morningside Cemetery, Brattleboro, Vermont.

This grave visit was sponsored by LGM reader donations. Thanks! If you would like this series to visit other senators who died in office in 1940 (and what an exciting theme that is!), you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Ernest Lundeen (plane crash) is in Minneapolis and Key Pittman (heart attack) is in Reno. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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