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Thomas M. Waller

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Thomas M. Waller

Waller's home, "Neptune Park" in the Ocean Beach section of New London, Connecticut (from a 1910 postcard)
Thomas MacDonald Waller
51st Governor of Connecticut
In office
January 3, 1883 – January 8, 1885
Lieutenant George G. Sumner
Preceded by Hobart B. Bigelow
Succeeded by Henry B. Harrison
Personal details
Born February 15, 1839
New York City, New York
Died January 24, 1924 (aged 84)
New London, Connecticut
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Charlotte Bishop Waller
Profession lawyer, politician

Thomas MacDonald Waller (February 15, 1839 – January 24, 1924) was an American politician and the 51st Governor of Connecticut.


Waller was born in New York City, New York on February 15, 1839, to Irish immigrant parents. His parents died before he turned eight and he survived by selling newspapers and working as a cabin boy. When he was considering going to California during the gold rush of 1849, a New London man named Robert Waller offered to provide him a home and an education in Connecticut. Waller accepted his offer, was adopted by the elder Waller, and received an education in the New London schools where he was noted for his skills in public speaking. In 1859 he married Charlotte Bishop and they had six children.[1]


After his graduation from Bartlett High School, he studied law and he was admitted to the bar in 1861, the same year that the Civil War began. He enlisted in the Second Connecticut Volunteers in April, due to an eye disease he was discharged two months later. Using his oratory talents to recruit volunteers for the Union, and his work in arguing cases in court, drew attention to his speaking ability.[2]

Becoming a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives, he served in 1867, 1872, and 1876. He also served as Secretary of the State of Connecticut from 1870 to 1871, and Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1876. He served as mayor of New London, Connecticut from 1873 to 1879.[3]

In 1882 Waller ran for governor on the Democratic ticket and defeated William Bulkeley (brother of future governor, Morgan Bulkeley) by more than 4,000 votes. He served from January 03, 1883 to January 08, 1885.[4] In 1884 Waller sought reelection and received more votes than his Republican opponent, but it was less than the 50% majority needed. Republican Legislature chose his opponent as the new governor. Waller gained some attention when he made a speech at the 1884 Democratic National Convention where Grover Cleveland was nominated for President. The following year Cleveland appointed him to the post of Consul-General to London, England, where he served from 1885 to 1889.[5]

When Waller returned to New London in 1889 he opened law offices there and in New York City. "I work five days a week in New York," he once said in jest, "that I may live two in Connecticut." In 1893 he served on the commission for the Chicago Columbian Exposition. He also served on Connecticut's 1902 Constitutional Convention.[6]


Waller died on January 24, 1924, at his Ocean Beach home in New London. He is interred at Cedar Grove Cemetery in New London, Connecticut.[7] There is a Waller Street in New London that is named after him.


  1. ^ "Thomas M. Waller". Connecticut State Library. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  2. ^ "Thomas M. Waller". Connecticut State Library. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "Thomas M. Waller". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Thomas M. Waller". National Governors Association. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "Thomas M. Waller". National Governors Association. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "Thomas M. Waller". Connecticut State Library. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "Thomas M. Waller". Find A Grave. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 

External links

  • Sobel, Robert and John Raimo. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978. Greenwood Press, 1988. ISBN 0-313-28093-2
  • Find A Grave
  • Office of the House Clerk
  • Connecticut State Library
  • National Governors Association
  • The Political Graveyard

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