Thomas Talbot (1818-1886)
Thomas Talbot grew up in Northampton, attending public school and later working there in a textile mill. In 1840, he opened a broadcloth factory in Billerica with his brother, which prospered over the next twenty years. In 1861, Talbot entered politics, serving until 1864 as a Representative in the Massachusetts Legislature. He served on the Governor’s Council over the next five years and was Lieutenant Governor from 1872-1874. In 1874, fellow Republican William Washburn resigned the Governorship to succeed Charles Sumner in the U.S. Senate. Mr. Talbot served as acting Governor, vetoing legislation to repeal Massachusetts’ prohibition law. He supported limiting laborers’ workdays to ten hours. Though Talbot retained his party’s support, he alienated both popular and industrial factions, losing his bid for reelection.
Mr. Talbot was reelected in 1878, and this he time advanced a set of more broad-based reforms. Governor Talbot proposed an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution to provide women equal voting rights. He proposed reforms in education and the management of the Commonwealth’s prisons, creating the Commonwealth’s first Prison Commission. He cut the state’s budget, while extending legal equality and improving the state government’s operations. Talbot declined to run for reelection and retired from public life.