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Hugh Gallen

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Hugh J. Gallen
74th Governor of New Hampshire
In office
January 4, 1979 – December 29, 1982
Preceded byMeldrim Thomson Jr.
Succeeded byVesta M. Roy (acting)
Personal details
Hugh Joseph Gallen

(1924-07-30)July 30, 1924
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
DiedDecember 29, 1982(1982-12-29) (aged 58)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Irene Carbonneau
(m. 1948)

Hugh Joseph Gallen (July 30, 1924 – December 29, 1982) was an American automobile dealer and Democratic politician from Littleton, New Hampshire. After serving in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, he served as the 74th governor of New Hampshire from 1979 until his death in 1982.

Early life[edit]

Born in Portland, Oregon, his family moved to Medford, Massachusetts, when he was six. As a young man, Gallen relocated to Littleton, New Hampshire, and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. Gallen had a successful tryout with the Washington Senators baseball team and played for one of their minor league teams for a year, but an arm injury ended his career. He worked as a truck driver, carpenter, and laborer in a paper mill before entering the auto sales industry, buying a General Motors dealership in Littleton. In 1948, he married Irene Carbonneau, a native of Littleton, and together would have three children.[1][2][3]

Early political career[edit]

Gallen entered politics as a member of Littleton Planning Board, serving from 1962 to 1965. in 1964 he became full owner of an automobile dealership, From 1967, he sat on the Small Business Administration's New Hampshire Advisory Council and was director and chairman of the New Hampshire-Vermont Development Council from 1969 to 1972. As chairman of the state Democratic State Committee, he was a key supporter of Edmund Muskie's presidential campaign in 1972. The same year, he was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives, the first Democrat elected to the legislature from Littleton in four decades. He ran in the 1974 and 1976 gubernatorial elections, but came third in the Democratic primary on both occasions.[4][5]

Governor of New Hampshire 1979-1982[edit]


Gallen Ran for governor a third time in The 1978 Election, easily winning the Democratic nomination.[6] In the general election he faced Incumbent Republican governor Meldrim Thomson Jr., former Republican Governor Wesley Powell Who Thomson defeated in the Republican primary ran in In the general election as an independent. Powell Split the Republican vote, And on November 7th 1978 Gallen was Elected governor. Defeating Thomson 49%-45% .[7] In 1980, Gallen Ran for a second term. Again facing Thomson. On November 4th 1980 Gallen was re-elected in a landslide 59%-41%. even as Ronald Reagan handedly won New Hampshire in the conquering 1980 presidential election.[8] Gallen Ran for a third term in 1982, Facing former state Representative and Tufts University professor John H. Sununu in the general election. as he had in his previous two campaigns he would not take The Pledge to veto a state sales or income tax to pay for the state employees’ contract; if one came to his desk, and called the state's tax system "obsolete" .[1] Largely due to This. Gallen Lost to Sununu 51%-47%, In spite of large Democratic gains in the midterm elections.[9] He was the only Democratic governor to lose reelection in 1982 and, along with California, New Hampshire was one of only two governorships picked up by the Republicans that year.


In his first term, Gallen pushed through legislation preventing the Public Service Company of New Hampshire from increasing rates to fund construction of the Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant.[2] His second term in particular was marked by struggles with the Republican-led legislature. In 1979 Gallen called out the National Guard to protect Seabrook Power against anti-nuclear demonstrators. By May 1980, the Governor's attention to politics and administrative work in the state capital caused him some personal financial difficulties, and he had to close his failing automobile dealership. Less than a year later, he was in thousands of dollars in debt. in 1981 9,200 state employees struck for higher wages. In negotiations Gallen agreed to a 9 percent raise; but the Republican-controlled legislature would only agree to 6 percent. In 1981, he became the first New Hampshire Governor to veto a state budget, calling for more funding for social services. He called the spending plan fundamentally and fatally flawed and told legislators that a budget, more than any other government document, spells out the state's level of compassion, its sense of juslevel of compassion, its sense of justice and its concern for equity. During this time, the state faced a $30 million budget deficit and lost its triple-A bond rating.[1]

Death and Memorial[edit]

Soon after his defeat, Gallen was hospitalized with a blood infection while on vacation in Saint Croix and was airlifted to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The infection impaired his liver and kidneys and he required dialysis. Out of state and unable to carry out the responsibilities of the governorship, power was transferred to the state senate president, at the time Robert B. Monier, then Vesta M. Roy when the new legislature was seated in December.[10]

Gallen's condition did not improve and he died of organ failure in Boston on December 29, 1982.[1][11] Roy, who became the first woman to wield the powers of New Hampshire Governor, served as acting governor for the final days of Gallen's term until Sununu was sworn in to office on January 6, 1983. Gallen was buried at Saint Rose of Lima New Catholic Cemetery in Littleton.

A bust of Hugh J. Gallen at a memorial dedicated to him.


  1. ^ a b c d "HUGH GALLEN DIES IN BOSTON AT 58; 2-TERM NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR". New York Times. December 30, 1982. Retrieved September 7, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Obituary; Hugh Gallen: New Hampshire governor". United Press International. December 30, 1982. Retrieved September 7, 2023.
  3. ^ "New First Lady at Bridges House". Nashua Telegraph. February 17, 1979. Retrieved March 20, 2010.
  4. ^ "Our Campaigns - NH Governor - D Primary Race - Sep 10, 1974".
  5. ^ "Our Campaigns - NH Governor - D Primary Race - Sep 14, 1976".
  6. ^ "Our Campaigns - NH Governor - D Primary Race - Sep 12, 1978".
  7. ^ "Our Campaigns - NH Governor - Nov 07, 1978".
  8. ^ RaceID=174359 "Our Campaigns - NH Governor - Nov 04, 1980". {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help)
  9. ^ "Our Campaigns - NH Governor - Nov 02, 1982".
  10. ^ Gallen serious: requires dialysis
  11. ^ Gallen, governor of N.H., dies at 58


External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Harry V. Spanos
Democratic nominee for Governor of New Hampshire
1978, 1980, 1982
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of New Hampshire
Succeeded by