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Howard Mason Gore (October 12, 1877-June 20, 1947) was U.S. secretary of agriculture and 17th governor of West Virginia. He was born in Harrison County, the son of Solomon D. and Mariette P. Rogers Gore. He attended the local schools and graduated from Clarksburg High School prior to enrolling at West Virginia University, where he graduated in 1900 with a degree in agriculture.

Gore took charge of the family farm after the death of his father in 1907 and developed a reputation for his progressive methods of cultivation and the breeding of beef cattle. When World War I came he served as the assistant food administrator for West Virginia. In 1921, at the request of a national farm organization, he was hired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a plan for the government marketing of livestock and livestock products. Afterward, Gore was appointed chief of the Packers and Stockyards Administration when Congress adopted the plan as part of the Packers and Stockyards Act.

These activities brought Gore to the attention of President Coolidge, and the president appointed him as the assistant secretary of agriculture on September 17, 1923. Gore began to show interest in the fortunes of West Virginia’s Republican Party, which led him to become more involved at the state level.

This set the stage for Gore’s nomination and election to the governor’s seat in 1924. He defeated Braxton County Democrat Judge Jake Fisher and Socialist candidate J. W. Bosworth in a spirited contest. The Republicans retained control of the West Virginia legislature, and the 32,000-vote margin Gore received was probably more a tribute to the victorious Republican presidential candidacy of Calvin Coolidge than to his own popularity.

In the interim between the November election and his inauguration as governor in March, Gore briefly served as U.S. secretary of agriculture. He held the position until March 2, 1925, when he resigned. Two days later he was sworn in as the governor of West Virginia.

Like many other governors, Gore was committed to using the state government to modernize West Virginia. He continued the construction and improvement of West Virginia’s newly created highway system. The farmer governor also had the satisfaction of seeing more state funds directed to the rural counties, and he legalized agricultural credit and cooperative associations.

In 1928, Gov. Gore sought the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, but was defeated in the party primary by former Governor Henry Hatfield. Gore did not retreat to private life. He served briefly as state agricultural commissioner in 1932, and in 1935 as director of the federal rural rehabilitation program for Harrison County. In 1941, Governor Matthew Neely appointed Gore to the state’s three-man Public Service Commission, a position Gore held until his death.

Read Gov. Gore’s inaugural address.

This Article was written by Jeffrey B. Cook

Last Revised on May 16, 2016


Ambler, Charles H. & Festus P. Summers. West Virginia: The Mountain State. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1958.

Morgan, John G. West Virginia Governors, 1863-1980. Charleston: Charleston Newspapers, 1980.

Howard M. Gore Taken by Death. Fairmont West Virginian, 6/20/1947.

Howard Gore, Former State Governor, Dies. Fairmont Times, 6/21/1947.

Cite This Article

Cook, Jeffrey B. "Howard Mason Gore." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 16 May 2016. Web. 24 March 2018.


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