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Harold G. Hoffman
File:Harold G. Hoffman.jpg
41st Governor of New Jersey

In office
January 15, 1935 – January 18, 1938
Preceded by Horace Griggs Prall
Acting Governor
Succeeded by A. Harry Moore
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
March 4, 1927 – March 3, 1931
Preceded by Stewart H. Appleby
Succeeded by William H. Sutphin
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly

In office
Personal details
Born Harold Giles Hoffman
(1896-02-07)February 7, 1896
South Amboy, New Jersey
Died June 4, 1954(1954-06-04) (aged 58)
New York City
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lillie Moss

Harold Giles Hoffman (February 7, 1896 – June 4, 1954) was an American politician, a Republican who served as the 41st Governor of New Jersey, from 1935 to 1938. He also served two terms representing New Jersey's 3rd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives, from 1927 to 1931.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Hoffman was born in South Amboy, New Jersey to Frank Hoffman and Ada Crawford Thom. Ada was the daughter of the painter James Crawford Thom and the granddaughter of Scottish sculptor James Thom. Hoffman also had two ancestors who were soldiers in the American Revolutionary War. His father's side of the family were among some of the early settlers in New Amsterdam, now known as New York City, but originated in Sweden; Hoffman's father's family were the descendents of Dutch nobility.[1]

Hoffman attended public schools and graduated from South Amboy High School in 1913. He worked with a local newspaper until enlisting on July 25, 1917, as a private in the Third Regiment of the New Jersey Infantry. He served overseas in World War I as a captain and advanced to the rank of lieutenant colonel until he was discharged with the rank of colonel in 1946. After World War I, Hoffman returned to South Amboy and became an executive with the South Amboy Trust Company. He later became the bank's president, a position he held until 1942.

Political career[edit | edit source]

  • 1917 to 1919, military service
  • 1920 to 1925, city treasurer of South Amboy
  • 1923 to 1924, New Jersey General Assembly
  • 1925 to 1926, Mayor of South Amboy, New Jersey
  • 1927 to 1931, member of the U.S. House of Representatives
  • 1931 to 1935, state motor vehicle commissioner
  • 1935 to 1938, Governor of New Jersey
  • 1938 to 1942, director of the state Unemployment Compensation Commission
  • 1942 to 1946, military service
  • 1946 to 1954, director of the state Unemployment Compensation Commission

As governor, Hoffman secretly visited convicted Lindbergh kidnapper Bruno Hauptmann in his death row cell on the evening of October 16, 1935, with Anna Bading, a stenographer and fluent speaker of German. Hoffman urged the other members of the New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals, then the state's highest court, to visit Hauptmann. Despite Governor Hoffman's doubt regarding Hauptmann's guilt, Hoffman was unable to convince the other members of the court to re-examine the case, and Hauptmann was executed on April 3, 1936.

Hoffman was a delegate to the 1936 Republican National Convention.

As governor, Harold Hoffman got into at least two separate fist-fights with reporters. Hoffman's advocacy of a state sales tax cost him the support of his own party, and he was not renominated for a third term as governor.

Due to World War II, Hoffman was granted military leave as director of the Unemployment Compensation Commission on June 15, 1942. He reentered the army as a major in the Transportation Corps and served until June 24, 1946, when he was discharged with the rank of colonel. Upon discharge, Hoffman resumed his position as director of the Unemployment Commission.

In 1948 he appeared on the short-lived ABC network program That Reminds Me.

On February 2, 1950, Hoffman was one of four panelists on the debut presentation of the game show What's My Line?.

Death[edit | edit source]

On March 18, 1954, Governor Robert B. Meyner uncovered a significant embezzlement scheme perpetrated by Hoffman, and suspended him from his position of Unemployment Compensation Commission Director. Three months later, in June 1954, Hoffman died in a New York City hotel room of a heart attack.[2] Just before dying, the disgraced former governor wrote a confession and admitted that he had embezzled over US$300,000 from the state. Hoffman is buried in Christ Church Cemetery in South Amboy, New Jersey.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Myers, William Starr. The Story of New Jersey (1945). Reprinted as Prominent Families of New Jersey (Genealogical Publishing Company, 2000), p. 8. "Harold G. Hoffman...in the paternal line comes of a family that originated in Sweden and married with the nobility of Holland."
  2. "Harold G. Hoffman Dies At Age Of 58. Governor of Jersey, 1935-37, a Center of Controversies, Succumbs Here in Hotel. Suspended By Meyner. Relieved From State Post in March. Served as Colonel in Transport Command". June 5, 1954. https://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D0CE5D6133EE53BBC4D53DFB066838F649EDE. Retrieved 2015-09-06. 

External links[edit | edit source]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Stewart H. Appleby
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 3rd congressional district

March 4, 1927 – March 3, 1931
Succeeded by
William H. Sutphin
Political offices
Preceded by
A. Harry Moore
Governor of New Jersey
January 15, 1935 – January 18, 1938
Succeeded by
A. Harry Moore
Party political offices
Preceded by
David Baird, Jr.
Republican Nominee for Governor of New Jersey
Succeeded by
Lester H. Clee

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