George Earle Chamberlain, Jr. – Govenor of Oregon – United States Senator

Born on January 1, 1854 in Natchez. Mississippi, to Charles T., a physician, and Pamela (Archer) Chamberlain. both of whom were Presbyterians. Brother of Charles, Laura. Josephine and Kate. Married to “Sallie” Newman Welch on May 21, 1879: father of six children. Charles Thomson, Lucie. Marguerite. Carrie Lee. George Earle. Jr., and Fannie.

Attended the public schools in Natchez: entered Washington and Lee University in 1872, receiving the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Law in 1876.

Journeyed to Oregon in December 1876 and soon found a teaching position near Albany. Admitted to the Oregon Bar in 1877. The following year Chamberlain served as Second Sergeant in “The Linn County Rifles.” a group of volunteer soldiers sent to eastern Oregon to combat hostile Indians.

Helped to organize the first temperance society in Albany; was Deputy Clerk of Linn County. 1878-79. and then joined L. Flynn in a law partnership. While continuing his law practice, he became editor of the Albany Slates Rights Democrat in 1882. Chamberlain served in the Oregon House of Representatives, 1880-84; was District Attorney for the Third Judicial District in Oregon, 1884-86, and acted as chairman of the Linn County Democratic Central Committee in 1890.

He was appointed the first Attorney General of the state by Governor Pennoyer in 1891 and was elected to a full term the following year, serving until 1895. In 1900 he moved to Portland and became District Attorney of Multnomah County.

Chamberlain received the gubernatorial nomination in 1902. Aided by the Republican factionalism and a bipartisan effort to elect a candidate who endorsed the initiative and referendum amendment. Chamberlain, a Democrat, became Governor on January 15. 1903. defeating his nearest rival, W. J. Furnish, by a vote of 41,857 to 41,611. At the end of his first term of office. an article in the May 10, 1906. Oregon Journal praised Governor Chamberlain's administration as probably the “cleanest” that Oregon had ever had. He was reelected to a second term in 1906 over his Republican opponent, James Withycombe, 46,002 votes to 43,508.

As governor of a state in which Republicans outnumbered Democrats by a three to one margin, Chamberlain maintained a non-partisan stance. A skillful political strategist, he supported popular causes such as the initiative and referendum amendment. and saved it from Republican legislative attacks. He protected the salmon industry by tighter enforcement of the open and closed fishing seasons: advocated river development to lower freight rates through enhanced competition with railroads; and conducted a determined campaign against fraudulent land dealers. During his term of office, the State Land Board cancelled illegal land certificates for 250,000 acres.

Chamberlain resigned as governor in 1909 to take office as a United States Senator after his election by the Oregon Legislature. President Theodore Roosevelt had urged the election of Chamberlain because he supported Roosevelt's conservation policy. As a senator, Chamberlain helped to devise the World War I selective service draft and also helped to develop food control procedures. He left office on March 3, 1921.

Chamberlain acted as a member of the United States Shipping Board from 1921 to 1923, and practiced law in Washington, D.C.. from 1923 until his death on July 9, 1928. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


WASHINGTON, July 11, 1928 – Former Senator George E. Chamberlain, who guided the Senate Military Affairs Committee through the World War, was buried today with military honors in the Arlington National Cemetery.  He died at his apartment here on Monday.

The funeral procession was met at the Arlington gates by khaki-clad escort of two full infantry squads, a color guard and a firing party.

Funeral services at the Wardman Park Hotel proceeded burial at Arlington.  The Rev. W. H. T. Squired of Norfolk, Virginia, officiated at the service.

Courtesy of the Congress of the United States:

CHAMBERLAIN, George Earle, a Senator from Oregon; born on a plantation near Natchez, Adams County, Miss., January 1, 1854; attended private and public schools in Natchez; clerk in a general merchandise store in Natchez 1870-1872; was graduated from Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Va., in 1876; moved to Oregon in 1876 and taught school in Linn County; deputy clerk of Linn County from 1877 to 1879, when he resigned; was admitted to the bar in 1879 and commenced the practice of  law in Albany, Linn County, Oreg.; member, State house of representatives 1880-1882; district attorney for the third judicial district 1884-1886; appointed and subsequently elected attorney general of Oregon 1891-1894; continued the practice of law in Portland; district attorney for the fourth judicial district 1900-1902; elected Governor of Oregon in 1902 and reelected in 1906, but  resigned in 1908 having been elected Senator; elected in 1908 as a Democrat to the United States Senate; reelected in 1914 and served from March 4, 1909, to March 3, 1921; unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the Senate in 1920; chairman, Committee on Geological Survey (Sixty-second Congress), Committee on Military Affairs (Sixty-third through Sixty-fifth  Congresses), Committee on Public Lands (Sixty-third Congress), Committee on Expenditures in the War Department (Sixty-sixth Congress); member of the United States Shipping Board 1921-1923; engaged in the practice of law in Washington, D.C., and died there on July 9, 1928; interment in Arlington National Cemetery, Fort Myer, Virginia.


  • DATE OF DEATH: 07/09/1928

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