Arthur Robinson Gould
|United States Senator|
November 30, 1926 - March 3, 1931
|Bert M. Fernald|
|Wallace H. White, Jr.|
|Member of the Maine House of Representatives|
|Born||March 16, 1857|
|Died||July 24, 1946 (aged 89)|
Presque Isle, Maine
|Spouse(s)||Mary Frances Donovan|
Born in Corinth, Maine, he attended the common schools and East Corinth Academy. He moved first to Bangor, Maine, where he opened a candy factory and met Mary Frances Donovan, who became his wife. They moved to Presque Isle, Maine, in 1887, where he engaged in the lumber business and built power plants and an electric railroad. He was president of the Aroostook Valley Railroad from 1902 to 1946.
Gould served in the Maine Senate from 1921 to 1922, and was elected on September 13, 1926, as a Republican to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Bert M. Fernald and served from November 30, 1926, to March 3, 1931. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1930. During his time in office he served as chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Immigration for the 71st Congress.
He died at Presque Isle and is buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
The special election to replace Senator Fernald occurred near the height of the Ku Klux Klan's influence in Maine politics. Klan infiltration of the Republican Party split Maine Republicans, with Klansmen finding their champion in Maine Governor Owen Brewster, and their chief opponents in former Governor Percival P. Baxter and Senator Frederick Hale. Gould, whose wife was Catholic, ran on an anti-Klan platform after receiving the Republican nomination for Senator, which caused Gov. Brewster to take the unprecedented step of denouncing his own party's candidate in the general election.
The Maine special election was of national importance because the U.S. Senate was evenly split along party lines (47 to 47). Maine Democrats, however, deserted their party in droves to vote for Gould, in order to break the power of the Republican Klan faction. In an unprecedented outcome, Gould carried every city and county in the state. The Chairman of the Republican State Committee hailed Gould's victory as demonstrating that "the sinister influence of an oath-bound organization no longer threatens the welfare of Maine". The issue would be played out one more time, however, when Gov. Brewster challenged Sen. Hale for the Republican Senate nomination in 1928, and lost, signaling the eclipse of Grand Dragon DeForest H. Perkins and the Klan as a force in Maine politics.
Although Gould was no friend of the Klan, once he joined the Senate Committee on Immigration, he sponsored some legislation of which the Klan would have approved. In 1930 he proposed a bill that would have set a quota on immigration from Canada, thus reducing Maine's Québécois population. The measure was defeated.
Although the US was experiencing Prohibition in the 1920s, and Maine had the nation's oldest prohibition law, and the Republican Party was the main proponent of prohibition, Gould did not believe in it and both made and consumed alcohol at home. He created a minor scandal in 1929 when a testimonial he had written in 1927, revealing that he fermented fruit juice for personal consumption, was made public. Gould had written that "I come from a prohibition state and am supposed to be a prohibitionist, but I am about as loyal to the prohibition element as some Southern Democrats are to the Democratic Party". Maine's temperance proponents declared they'd work to unseat Gould, but he stated soon after that he wouldn't run for a second term, while denying the prohibitionist threat entered into his decision. In making that announcement Gould referred to prohibition as "this rotten farce".
During the 1926 election, Gould's opponent accused him of having bribed the Premier of the Canadian province of New Brunswick in 1918 in order to secure concessions for the Saint John Valley and Quebec Railway, of which Gould was the major investor. Gould did not deny that a bribe of $100,000 was paid, but he claimed this was done by his associates without his knowledge, and that an additional $50,000 asked for by the Premier was refused, leading to the collapse of the railway. Gould claimed that bribery was standard practice in New Brunswick for American companies, and he was more a victim than perpetrator in this instance. The bribery charges led to a resolution by Democratic Senator Thomas J. Walsh of Montana that would have prevented Gould from being seated in the Senate, but this was defeated and Gould was sworn in. A Senate sub-committee was formed to investigate the charge, however, and Gould was exonerated.
Gould was noted for speaking his mind plainly and frankly. In a 1929 newspaper interview, he described Sen. George W. Norris of Nebraska as a "bitter, sour old man with not a good word for anybody" and said Sen. Thomas J. Walsh of Montana "hasn't got a kindly thought in his system". Both men were famous progressives, and such statements perhaps reveal Gould's instinctive conservatism as much as their clashing temperaments. Gould was particularly suspicious of the Midwest and West for wanting to wrest too much power from the Eastern states, and from New England in particular. But he also derided his own political skills, saying "the fact of the matter is that I'm not cut out for politics, I want to get back to my railroad and the pine forests of Maine." His favorite politician was Calvin Coolidge and one of his best friend in the Senate was a Democrat, Senator Joseph E. Ransdell of Louisiana.
Arthur R. Gould was a resident of Presque Isle for nearly 60 years and contributed greatly to the community. In 1955 the city hospital had outgrown its facilities and new construction was planned on a 30-acre farm on the "outskirts" of town. Fundraising began the following year, and was accelerated with the Ford Foundation grant of $27,500. Gould's only surviving child, Marie Gould Wildes and her husband W. H. Wildes, surprised the committee with a donation of $100,000. The hospital was promptly named the Arthur R. Gould Memorial Hospital.
Bert M. Fernald
| U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Maine
Served alongside: Frederick Hale
Wallace H. White, Jr.