John Franklin Fort

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Meet South Orange's Governor

John Franklin Fort lived in South Orange, was mourned by Woodrow Wilson

By Marcia Worth September 22, 2012

John Franklin Fort, Governor of New Jersey from 1908 until 1911, and advocate of "New Idea" in politics, lived in South Orange. Fort, his wife, Charlotte E. Stainsby Fort, and their two sons and one daughter, lived on Charlton Avenue, in the Montrose neighborhood, at least until 1919, when Fort died. Fort was a New Jersey-born lawyer (1854) who served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State.

As an active and ardent Republican, Fort regularly attended national conventions. In 1896, he proposed nominating Garret Hobart for Vice President. Elected to the governorship of the state in 1907, Fort surprised party loyals by announcing, about a year later, his independence of boss rule. He adopted "new idea" politics, which advocated direct primaries and candidate independence from party ideas. Fort lost the office in 1911.

However, he then served as United States envoy to both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In March 1917, President (and former New Jersey Governor) Woodrow Wilson appointed Fort to the Federal Trade Commission, a position he held until November 1919 when he resigned due a stroke.

Fort's son was New Jersey Congressman William Franklin Fort.

Note: This article originally appeared in Used by permission of the writer.