Morgan Gardner Bulkeley (1837 – 1922)

Morgan Gardner Bulkeley

Morgan Gardner Bulkeley was a man of many energies and talents. He was president of Aetna Life Insurance at the time the company expanded into a national multi-line insurance agency. Bulkeley was prominent in political circles having served as mayor of Hartford from 1879 to 1887, Connecticut’s governor from 1889 to 1893, and as United States senator from 1905 to 1911.

During the election of 1888, the Democratic candidate Luzon B. Morris had won, but neither Morris nor Bulkeley got more than fifty percent of the vote (which was required to be Governor at the time). Instead, the mostly Republican legislature decided the governorship should go to Bulkeley.

Two years later in 1890, a Republican and Democrat were again running for the governorship. At the time, there was an unwritten rule within the Republican Party preventing a Republican governor from serving more than one term. As a result, Bulkeley was unable to run but, similar to the vote of 1888, there was again no clear-cut winner. Bulkeley responded by refusing to relinquish the Governor’s office.

In an effort to get him to give up his seat, the State Comptroller was ordered to put chains and a padlock around the door to the Governor’s office in order to prevent Bulkeley from entering. Bulkeley handled this by using a crowbar to gain access to the Governor’s office, thus, earning him the nickname “Crowbar Governor.” Then, the Legislature refused to pass funding for state operation costs. Bulkeley handled this by using funds from Aetna Insurance, of which he was president. After considerable dissatisfaction and angst, the legislature finally succumbed to Bulkeley’s leadership, and he served as Governor of Connecticut for a second two-year-term.

In 1874 and 1875, Bulkeley served as president of the Hartford Dark Blues, a baseball team of the National Baseball Association. In 1876, he was elected as the Baseball Association’s first president. In the league’s initial season, Bulkeley enhanced the game’s image by reducing gambling and drinking. He was elected posthumously to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.

Baseball Hall of Fame.  Accessed at on July 26, 2010.
Connecticut Heritage Gateway.  Accessed at on July 26, 2010.
Connecticut State Library. Accessed at on July 26, 2010.

Photo credit: Morgan Gardner Bulkeley, public domain