William Gaston
Painting: by Frederic Porter Vinton, 1895

Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 1875-1876

William Gaston had established a successful legal practice in the City of Roxbury before entering politics. He served as a Representative in the State Legislature (1853-1854), as Roxbury's City Solicitor (1856-60), and as its Mayor (1861 and 1862). He resumed his private practice of law until 1868, when he served the Massachusetts Senate for a year.

The City of Boston annexed Roxbury in 1868, and in 1871, Gaston was voted Mayor of Boston. Running for Governor as a Democrat, Gaston defeated incumbent Thomas Talbot who had supported the continuance of statewide prohibition by his veto. Gaston promoted a law repealing the Commonwealth's prohibition law, leaving such restrictions to the determination of localities. Governor Gaston was defeated in his reelection bid by Alexander Rice. Mr. Gaston returned to his extremely successful legal practice, gaining renown as a trial attorney.