Gillett, Frederick Huntington, 1851-1935

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Frederick Huntington Gillett (October 16, 1851 – July 31, 1935) was an American politician who served in the Massachusetts state government and both houses of the U.S. Congress between 1879 and 1931, including six years as Speaker of the House.

Frederick H. Gillett was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, to Edward Bates Gillett (1817–1899) and Lucy Fowler Gillett (1830–1916). He graduated from Amherst College, where he was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, in 1874 and Harvard Law School in 1877. He entered the practice of law in Springfield in 1877.

Gillett was the Assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts from 1879 to 1882. For two one-year terms he was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He was elected to the Fifty-third United States Congress in 1892.

A Republican, Gillett served in the United States House of Representatives from 1893 to 1925. On January 24, 1914, he introduced legislation to initiate the adoption of an Anti-Polygamy Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Republicans won a net total of 24 seats in the 1918 elections, increasing the size of their majority in the House. Gillett was nominated by the Republican caucus for Speaker of the House in the upcoming 66th United States Congress. On May 19, 1919, Congress convened, and he was elected speaker, defeating the Democratic incumbent Champ Clark 228–172. Gillett was expected to exercise less control than his predecessor, since he was characterized by one reporter as someone who did not drink coffee in the morning "for fear it would keep him awake all day". He was reelected as speaker in 1921 and again in 1923.

He decided to run for the United States Senate in 1924. He won the Republican primary easily over two other candidates and then narrowly defeated incumbent Senator David I. Walsh in the Republican landslide of November 1924 led by President Calvin Coolidge, a former governor of Massachusetts. Time magazine chose him for its November 17, 1924, cover. He served one term in the Senate from 1925 to 1931, and decided not to seek re-election in the face of a difficult primary challenge.

On November 25, 1915, Gillett married Christine Rice Hoar, the widow of his former colleague in Congress, Rockwood Hoar. In 1934 he published a biography of George Frisbie Hoar, an earlier congressman and senator from Massachusetts, and his wife's father-in-law from her previous marriage.

During his time in Washington, Gillett spent his free time driving his 1926 Pontiac Coupe and playing golf in the morning. In retirement he wintered in Pasadena, California. He died in a hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts, on July 31, 1935.

As of 2019, Gillett is the most recent Speaker of the House to have also served in the U.S. Senate. He was also the longest-tenured incumbent congressman to have ever been elected to the Senate until June 2013, when Representative Ed Markey was elected to the same Senate seat that Gillett held.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Robinson, Corinne Roosevelt, 1861-1933. Papers, 1847-1933 Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf Gillett, Frederick Huntington, 1851-1935. Gillett notebooks, 1871-ca. 1920. Amherst College. Library
referencedIn Pease, Arthur Stanley, 1881-1964. Correspondence and compositions, 1870-1963 Houghton Library
referencedIn Hoar, George Frisbie, 1826-1904. George Frisbie Hoar papers, 1784-1933, bulk: 1860-1905. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Reid, Elisabeth Mills, 1858-1931. Reid family papers, 1795-1970 (bulk 1869-1970). Library of Congress
referencedIn Brooks, Lawrence Graham, 1881-1981. Papers, 1897-1981. Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Moody, William H. (William Henry), 1853-1917. William H. Moody papers, 1879-1916. Library of Congress
referencedIn Papers, 1879-1926 (inclusive), 1916-1922 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Papers of Professor Henry William Wilder Foote and Family, 1714-1959 Andover-Harvard Theological Library
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company contracts, 1831-1979 (inclusive) 1880-1940 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Reid family papers, 1795-1946. Library of Congress
referencedIn Robert Grant papers, 1809-1940. Houghton Library
referencedIn Eleanor M. Tilton Papers, 1770-1991 Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
creatorOf Cox, Channing H. (Channing Harris), 1879-1968. Personal papers, 1904-1960. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Howe, M. A. De Wolfe (Mark Antony De Wolfe), 1864-1960. Additional papers, 1880-1959 Houghton Library
referencedIn Lawrence Graham Brooks papers, 1897-1981 Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Gillett Family Papers, 1848-c. 1920 Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Barrows family papers, 1861-1931. Houghton Library
creatorOf Mayflower Club (Boston, Mass.). Records, 1893-1931. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Reid Family Fapers, 1795-1970, (bulk 1869-1970) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Correspondence and compositions collected by The Carl H. Pforzheimer Library, 1878-1923. Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Tilton, Eleanor M. (Eleanor Marguerite), 1913-. Papers, 1770-1991. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Amherst College corporateBody
associatedWith Amherst College. Class of 1874. Gillett. corporateBody
correspondedWith Barrows family. family
associatedWith Brooks, Lawrence Graham, 1881-1981 person
associatedWith Brooks, Lawrence Graham, 1881-1981. person
associatedWith Cox, Channing H. (Channing Harris), 1879-1968. person
correspondedWith Dresel, Ellis Loring, 1865-1925 person
memberOf Gillett family. family
correspondedWith Grant, Robert, 1852-1940 person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Harvard Law School corporateBody
associatedWith Hoar, George Frisbie, 1826-1904. person
associatedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
correspondedWith Howe, M. A. De Wolfe (Mark Antony De Wolfe), 1864-1960 person
associatedWith Mayflower Club (Boston, Mass.) corporateBody
correspondedWith Moody, William H. (William Henry), 1853-1917. person
correspondedWith Pease, Arthur Stanley, 1881- person
correspondedWith Reid family family
correspondedWith Robinson, Corinne Roosevelt, 1861-1933 person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919 person
associatedWith Tilton, Eleanor M. (Eleanor Marguerite), 1913- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Westfield MA US
Springfield MA US
Pasadena CA US
Speakers of the House, U.S. Congress
State Representative
Representatives, U.S. Congress
Senators, U.S. Congress


Birth 1851-10-16

Death 1935-07-31






Ark ID: w6747f63

SNAC ID: 84282569