Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 1911-1914
Born the son of a factory manager in Vermont, Eugene Foss briefly attended the University of Vermont, but left after his second year to study law. Soon he left the study of law to work as a traveling salesman for a manufacturing company. In 1882, he moved to Boston and worked in manufacturing. He married Lilla Sturdevant in 1884 and became President of the B.F. Sturdevant Company, a producer of iron and steel products.
Foss' business experience led him to advocate tariff reforms, and in 1904, he was active in the state's Republican Party. In 1909, he made an unsuccessful bid as a Democrat for election to Lieutenant Governor. In 1910, he held a seat in Congress from which he resigned later that year after being elected Governor of Massachusetts.
Labor issues continued to dominate Massachusetts politics. In 1912, textile workers in Lawrence went on strike, closing the city's mills. Of Lawrence's 86,000 residents, 60,000 worked directly in the mills. Lawrence had already gone bankrupt and been rechartered. Governor Foss dispatched twelve companies of the Massachusetts Militia to Lawrence and asked workers to continue work for 30 days. During this time Foss' pressured factory owners to make progress in settlement negotiations as a condition of the troops' continued presence.
Governor Foss succeeded in instituting a system of compensation for injured workers. He advocated campaign spending limits and the direct election of constitutional officers. He vetoed a legislative pay raise, while increasing the number of judges and their compensation. Twice reelected, Foss failed to win the Democratic nomination for a fourth term. He ran as an Independent for reelection, but without party support he finished in a distant fourth place. Eugene Foss returned to private life after serving three terms as Governor.