Henry Joseph Gardner
Painting: by Jean Paul Selinger, 1890

Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 1855-1858

The Know-Nothing party of the 1850s focused on resisting foreign influences in the United States, particularly from resident aliens and members of the Roman Catholic Church. During a brief period when the Massachusetts legislature was dominated by Know-Nothing members, Henry Gardner became Governor of Massachusetts.

Mr. Gardner was a dry goods merchant from Boston, who served on the city's Common Council between 1850 and 1854. In 1854, he won a strong majority of the vote against the Democrat and Whig incumbent Emory Washburn. Governor Gardner supported anti-alien laws, stiffened naturalization regulations and advocated electoral reforms. Governor Gardner won reelection twice, before being defeated by Republican Nathaniel Banks.