Robert B. Meyner

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Robert B. Meyner
Robert Baumle Meyner.jpg
44th Governor of New Jersey
In office
January 19, 1954 January 16, 1962
Preceded by Alfred E. Driscoll
Succeeded by Richard J. Hughes
Member of the New Jersey Senate
In office
Personal details
Robert Baumle Meyner

(1908-07-03)July 3, 1908
Easton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedMay 27, 1990(1990-05-27) (aged 81)
Captiva, Florida, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Helen Stevenson (m. 1957)
Alma mater Lafayette College
Columbia Law School

Robert Baumle Meyner (July 3, 1908 – May 27, 1990) was an American Democratic Party politician, who served as the 44th Governor of New Jersey, from 1954 to 1962. Before being elected governor, Meyner represented Warren County in the New Jersey Senate from 1948 to 1951.

Democratic Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with its rival, the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

Governor of New Jersey head of state and of government of the U.S. state of New Jersey

The Governor of the State of New Jersey is head of the executive branch of New Jersey's state government. The office of governor is an elected position, for which elected officials serve four-year terms. Governors cannot be elected to more than two consecutive terms, but there is no limit on the total number of terms they may serve. The official residence for the governor is Drumthwacket, a mansion located in Princeton, New Jersey; the office of the governor is at the New Jersey State House in Trenton.

Warren County, New Jersey County in the United States

Warren County is a county located in the U.S. state of New Jersey. As of the 2017 Census estimate, the county's population was 106,798, making it the 19th-most populous of the state's 21 counties, representing a decrease of 1.7% from the 108,692 enumerated in the 2010 United States Census, in turn having increased by 6,255 (+6.1%) from 102,437 counted at the 2000 Census, Its county seat is Belvidere. It is part of the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ metropolitan area and is generally considered the eastern border of the Lehigh Valley. It is considered part of the New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area, and shares its eastern border with the New York City Metropolitan Area, with its northwestern section bordering The Poconos. The most populous place was Phillipsburg, with 14,950 residents at the time of the 2010 Census, while Hardwick Township, covered 37.92 square miles (98.2 km2), the largest total area of any municipality.


Early life

Meyner was born on July 3, 1908 in Easton, Pennsylvania, to Gustave Herman Meyner, Sr. (1878–1950) and Maria Sophia Bäumle (1881–1968). His father was a German American silk worker from Manchester, New Hampshire. His mother was German, but born in Birsfelden near Basel, in Switzerland, to Robert Bäumle from Harpolingen, Baden and to Franziska Oliva Thüring from Istein, Baden. Robert had an older brother, Gustave Herman Meyner Jr. (1907–1996). He also had a younger sister, Olive F. Meyner Wagner (1913–1982). [1]

Easton, Pennsylvania City in Pennsylvania, United States

Easton is a city in and the county seat of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, United States. The city's population was 26,800 as of the 2010 census. Easton is located at the confluence of the Delaware River and the Lehigh River, roughly 55 miles (89 km) north of Philadelphia and 70 miles (110 km) west of New York City.

Manchester, New Hampshire largest city in New Hampshire

Manchester is a city in the southern part of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. It is the most populous city in northern New England, an area comprising the states of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. As of the 2010 census the city had a population of 109,565, and in 2018 the population was estimated to be 112,525. The combined Manchester-Nashua Metropolitan Area had a 2010 population of 400,721.

Basel Place in Basel-Stadt, Switzerland

Basel is a city in northwestern Switzerland on the river Rhine. Basel is Switzerland's third-most-populous city with about 180,000 inhabitants.

In 1916, the Meyner family moved across the state border to Phillipsburg, New Jersey. They briefly settled in Paterson, New Jersey but had returned to Phillipsburg by 1922. Meyner graduated from Phillipsburg High School in 1926, and entered Lafayette College, where he majored in government and law. [2] He was a brother of the Alpha Chi Rho fraternity. In 1928, Meyner formed a club supporting Al Smith as a presidential candidate in the 1928 United States presidential election. [1] Smith was the nominee of the Democratic Party but lost the election to Herbert Hoover of the Republican Party.

Phillipsburg, New Jersey Town in New Jersey, United States

Phillipsburg is a town in Warren County, New Jersey, United States, a sister city to its industrial partner of Easton, Pennsylvania across the Delaware River.

Paterson, New Jersey City in Passaic County, New Jersey, U.S.

Paterson is the largest city in and the county seat of Passaic County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, its population was 146,199, making it New Jersey's third-most-populous city. Paterson has the second-highest density of any U.S. city with over 100,000 people, behind only New York City. For 2018, the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program calculated a population of 145,647, a decrease of 0.4% from the 2010 enumeration, making the city the 180th-most-populous in the nation.

Phillipsburg High School (New Jersey)

Phillipsburg High School is a comprehensive, four-year public high school located in Phillipsburg, in Warren County, New Jersey, United States. The school was first established in 1871 and is located in the eastern part of the Lehigh Valley, at the Pennsylvania border. For this reason, the school's nickname is the "Stateliners." The school has been accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Secondary Schools since 2000.

In his senior year, Meyner was editor in chief of "The Lafayette", a student newspaper. After his graduation, he moved on to Columbia Law School, where he was awarded an LL.B. degree in 1933. [1]

Columbia Law School law school

Columbia Law School is a professional graduate school of Columbia University, a member of the Ivy League. It has always been ranked in the top five law schools in the United States by U.S. News and World Report. Columbia is especially well known for its strength in corporate law and its placement power in the nation's elite law firms.

Bachelor of Laws is an undergraduate law degree in England and most common law jurisdictions—except the United States and Canada— which allows a person to become a lawyer. It historically served this purpose in the U.S. as well, but was phased out in the mid-1960s in favour of the Juris Doctor degree, and Canada followed suit. Bachelor of Laws is also the name of the law degree awarded by universities in Scotland and South Africa.

While still in school, Meyner had been employed as an apprentice coremaker by the Warren Foundry and Pipe Corporation and Ingersoll Rand. During his college years, Meyner was employed as a weaver by the Gunning Silk Company. Following his graduation from Columbia, Meyner found employment as a law clerk in Union City. He was employed by J. Emil Walscheid and Milton Rosenkranz from February, 1933 to April, 1936. [1]

Union City, New Jersey City in Hudson County, New Jersey, U.S.

Union City is a city in the northern part of Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. According to the 2010 United States Census the city had a total population of 66,455, reflecting a decline of 633 (−0.9%) from the 67,088 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 9,076 (+15.6%) from the 58,012 counted in the 1990 Census. As of the 2010 Census it was the most densely populated city in the United States, with a density of 51,810.1 per square mile.

Political beginnings

Meyner returned to Phillipsburg in 1936, where he quickly became a well-known trial lawyer. His prominent involvement in civic and social affairs, as well as the recognition it generated, helped him in 1941 during his first bid for elected office. He lost a campaign for a seat in the New Jersey Senate by only fifty votes.

During World War II, Meyner served as an officer in the Navy, and he was discharged with the rank of lieutenant commander. After a failed run for federal office, he was elected to the state senate in 1947. Though he was the Senate Minority Leader in 1950, Meyner lost his seat in the election of 1952.

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. With the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the third-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force and the United States Army.

Lieutenant commander commissioned officer rank in many navies

Lieutenant commander is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a lieutenant and subordinate to a commander. The corresponding rank in most armies and air forces is major, and in the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces is squadron leader.

Governor of New Jersey

The ailing New Jersey Democratic Party chose him as its gubernatorial candidate in 1953, and he achieved a surprise victory, boosted by a minor scandal surrounding his opponent, Paul L. Troast. Meyner's first term was marked by strong support for state education and a general restructuring of the government.

While in his first term as governor, Meyner uncovered Employment Security Division Director (and former governor) Harold G. Hoffman's massive corruption scam, and suspended Hoffman on March 18, 1954. Meyner defeated Malcolm Forbes handily in 1957 in his bid for re-election.

In 1958, Time Magazine recognized Meyner as a potential candidate for the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination, and featured him on the cover of their November 24 edition of that year (along with five other noteworthy Democrats, including John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson).

At the 1960 Democratic National Convention Meyner received 43 votes for president, finishing fifth behind John F. Kennedy (806 votes), Lyndon Johnson (409 votes), Stuart Symington (86 votes) and Adlai Stevenson (79.5 votes) and just ahead of Hubert Humphrey who received 41 votes.

Meyner left office in January 1962. At the time, New Jersey's constitution prohibited governors from serving more than two consecutive terms, but did not place a limit on the total number of terms. After his Democratic successor, Richard J. Hughes had served two terms and was unable to run for a third, the Democratic Party turned back to Meyner as their gubernatorial candidate in 1969. But after 16 years of Democratic administrations, Republican William T. Cahill won election over Meyner.


Meyner married Helen Stevenson Meyner on January 19, 1957 in Oberlin, Ohio. Helen served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 until 1979.


He had a stroke in 1986 and died on May 27, 1990, in Captiva, Florida. [3] Meyner was cremated and his ashes are at Phillipsburg Cemetery in Phillipsburg.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 "Robert Baumle Meyner". Lafayette College. Archived from the original on July 3, 2007. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
  2. Robert B. Meyner], The Robert B. & Helen S. Meyner Center for the Study of State & Local Government, Lafayette College. Accessed March 14, 2011. "During his early childhood, Robert Meyner's family moved to Pennsylvania, and then to Phillipsburg and Paterson, New Jersey, and finally settled back in Phillipsburg in 1922, where the family lived in the house on Lincoln Avenue built by Robert Meyner's grandfather, Robert B. Meyner.... Robert Meyner was graduated from Phillipsburg High School in 1926, where he was class valedictorian and a member of the debating team."
  3. King, Wayne (May 29, 1990). "Robert B. Meyner Is Dead at 81; Flamboyant New Jersey Governor". The New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2010. Robert B. Meyner, who revitalized the Democratic Party in New Jersey and rose to national prominence during two terms as Governor in the 1950's and early 60's, died Sunday at his home in Captiva, Fla., after a long illness. He was 81 years old and had been in declining health since suffering a stroke in 1986.
Political offices
Preceded by
Alfred E. Driscoll
Governor of New Jersey
January 19, 1954 – January 16, 1962
Succeeded by
Richard J. Hughes
Party political offices
Preceded by
Elmer H. Wene
Democratic nominee for Governor of New Jersey
1953, 1957
Succeeded by
Richard J. Hughes
Preceded by
Richard J. Hughes
Democratic nominee for Governor of New Jersey
Succeeded by
Brendan Byrne