Caleb Strong
Painting: by Henry Sandham, 1900

Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 1800-1807, 1812-1816

Caleb Strong was one of Massachusetts' first U.S. Senators. He was an author and proponent of the U.S. Constitution and brought an able legal mind to his service as Governor. Mr. Strong graduated from Harvard (still Massachusetts' only college) with highest honors. After graduating, he returned to his native Northampton, where he began his legal practice and served on Northampton's revolutionary Committee on Safety.

In his first seven, one-year terms, Governor Strong concentrated on creating a penitentiary system and restructuring the Commonwealth's court system. Strong's later four, one-year terms were highlighted by his refusal to release the Commonwealth's militia for service against Great Britain in the War of 1812. Governor Strong opposed the war, and as a framer of the U.S. Constitution he argued that governors have the prerogative to determine how and when their militias will be deployed.

Under Strong, Massachusetts had to defend its own coastline against the English. The federal government naturally refused to pay for this independently mounted defense, so Massachusetts's troops ended up in the war without any federal subsidy to the state. Governor Strong declined renomination in 1816, returning to his law practice in Northampton.