Governor Henry B. Cleaves


A Collection of Biographical Sketches of all the Governors since the formation of the State.

Prepaired under the direction of Henry Chase
Portland, ME.
The Lakeside Press, Publisher

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THE present Governer of Maine comes of a good, solid family. His father was Thomas Cleaves, a native of Bridgton, Maine, a man of great energy and of the strictest integrity. His mother, Sophia Bradstreet Cleaves, a most worthy woman, was a daughter of Daniel Bradstreet, who, in the early days of Bridgton, came from Rowley, Massachusetts. They had five children, Robert A. Cleaves, Nathan Cleaves, Thomas P. Cleaves, Henry B. Cleaves, and Mary S. Cleaves, wife of William W. Mason. Judge Nathan Cleaves, the senior member of the firm of Nathan & Henry B. Cleaves, died September 5, Judge Cleaves had been a resident of Portland for nearly thirty years, and was closely identified with her interests. He was graduated from Bowdoin College in 1858 he had attained eminence in his profession as a lawyer, and had occupied many positions of honor and public trust. He was held in the highest esteem and the expressions of sorrow at his death were universal throughout the State.

Henry B. Cleaves was born in Bridgton in 1840. and educated in the common schools of his native town and at Bridgton Academy. He enlisted in the summer of 1862, as a private soldier in Co. B, 23d Maine Volunteers, under Col. William Wirt Virgin, late a justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of the State of Maine. He served during his first enlistment at Poolsville on the Potomac and at Harper's Ferry, and was promoted to the position of Orderly Sergeant of Co. B. The regiment was mustered out at the expiration of its term of service. Sergeant Cleaves immediately re-enlisted for three years under General Francis Fessenden, who was recruiting a veteran regiment for active service in the South. Young Cleaves was appointed 1st Lieutenant of Co. F, and a portion of the time during his service was in command of Co. E, the officers of the latter company having been either killed or disabled in action. Lientenant Cleaves, during his latter enlistment, served a portion of the time in the Department of the Gulf. He participated in various engagements under General Banks on the Red River expedition, and was with General Fessenden at Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, and Cane River Crossing. After the close of the campaign in Louisiana, the regiment was ordered to Virginia and Lieutenant Cleaves served during the remainder of the war in the Army of the Potomac and under General Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley. When mustered out of service at the close of the war, he was offered, but declined, a commission in the regular army by Secretary of War Stanton.

At the close of the war he returned to his home in Bridgton, and was employed on the farm and in the lumber business. In January, 1868. he began the study of law, and was admitted to the Bar the following September. He removed to Portland and formed a law partnership with his brother, the late Judge Nathan Cleaves. They always enjoyed a large and lucrative practice, the firm being extensively known throughout the State and New England. The surviving members of the firm are Governor Cleaves and Stephen C. Perry, of Portland.

Governor Cleaves was a member of the Legislature from Portland in 1876 and 1877, and was appointed chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He was elected City Solicitor of Portland in 1877, and during his two years of office tried many important cases for the city. He was made Attorney-General of the State in 1880, and was twice re-elected. During his term of office as Attorney-General, he was engaged in the prosecution of a large number of prominent criminal cases, and in prosecution of the State tax cases against the railroads.

Governor Cleaves is a prominent member of the Grand Army and the Maine State Veteran Association. In the practice of his profession, and in matters of charity, he has always shown a great friendship for the old soldier. His successful defence of William T. Best, a disabled veteran, in the extradition proceedings brought against him a few years ago by the Province of New Brunswick, will be readily recalled, as it excited great interest at the time.

Governor Cleaves's first vote for President was cast for Abraham Lincoln, while he was still in active service in Virginia, in the fall of 1864. He has always been a Republican, and was unanimously nominated as the Republican candidate for Governor at the Republican State Convention held in Portland, June, 1892. He was elected in September, and inaugurated as Governor of the State on the 5th day of January last. He came to the position with a large experience in public affairs and is giving the people of the State a most excellent administration.

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