Exhibit of Governors' Portraits in the Governor's Reception Room, Maryland State House

[photograph the portrait of Governor Herbert R. O'Conor]

HERBERT R. O'CONOR, 1896-1960
Fifty-first Governor, 1939-1947 (Democrat)
Portrait by Charles J. Fox.
Commissioned by the Legislature.
MSA SC 1545-1090

Herbert Romulus O'Conor was born in a row house in Baltimore on November 17, 1896. He received his BA degree from Loyola College and graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1920. He was elected State's Attorney of Baltimore City in 1923, a position he held for ten years. In 1939, he became the first Roman Catholic of Irish descent to be elected governor. He established the Maryland Council of Defense to meet the demands of World War II and improved the state transportation system with new bridges over the the Susquehanna and Potomac Rivers. He promoted inter-state cooperation, serving as Chairman of the Governor's Conference in 1941, and President of the Council of State Government in 1943. As WW II drew to a close he created the Commission on Post War Reconstruction and Development, which implemented a program of public works designed to offset demobilization and the loss of war-related jobs. During his administration the state implemented a nationally recognized medical care program. Governor O'Conor resigned from his second term in office to take a seat in the United States Senate, making him the only Marylander during the twentieth century to serve as Attorney General, Governor, and a United States Senator. He married Eugenia Byrnes in 1920, and they had five children, Herbert R. Jr, Eugene F., James P., Robert, and Mary P. O'Conor. He died on March 4, 1960 in Baltimore.

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