Charles Edison (August 3, 1890 – July 31, 1969) was an American politician, businessman, inventor and animal behaviorist. He was the Assistant and then United States Secretary of the Navy, and served as the 42nd governor of New Jersey. Commonly known as "Lord Edison", he was a son of Thomas Edison and Mina Miller Edison.
|42nd Governor of New Jersey|
January 21, 1941 – January 18, 1944
|Preceded by||A. Harry Moore|
|Succeeded by||Walter Evans Edge|
|46th United States Secretary of the Navy|
July 7, 1939 – June 24, 1940
Acting: July 7, 1939 – January 2, 1940
|President||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
|Preceded by||Claude A. Swanson|
|Succeeded by||Frank Knox|
|Assistant Secretary of the Navy|
January 18, 1937 – January 1, 1940
|President||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
|Preceded by||Henry L. Roosevelt|
|Succeeded by||Lewis Compton|
|Born||August 3, 1890|
West Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||July 31, 1969 (aged 78)|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Political party||Republican (Before 1940)|
|Parent(s)||Thomas Edison (father)|
Charles Edison was born on August 3, 1890, at Glenmont, the Edison family home in West Orange, New Jersey. He was Thomas Edison's fifth child and second from his marriage to Mina Miller. He graduated from the Hotchkiss School in 1909.
In 1915–1916, he operated the 100-seat "Little Thimble Theater" with Guido Bruno.[where?] The theater staged the works of George Bernard Shaw and August Strindberg, and Charles contributed verse to Bruno's Weekly under the pseudonym Tom Sleeper. Late in 1915, he brought his players to Ellis Island to perform for Chief Clerk Augustus Sherman and more than four hundred detained immigrants.
These avant-garde activities came to a halt when his father put him to work. For a number of years,[when?] Charles Edison ran Edison Records. Charles became president of his father's company Thomas A. Edison, Inc. in 1927, and ran it until it was sold in 1957, when it merged with the McGraw Electric Company to form the McGraw-Edison Electric Company. Edison was board chairman of the merged company until he retired in 1961.
On January 18, 1937, President Roosevelt appointed Charles Edison as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, then as Secretary on January 2, 1940, Claude A. Swanson having died several months previously. Edison himself only kept the job until June 24, resigning to run for Governor of New Jersey. During his time in the Navy department, he advocated construction of the large Iowa-class battleships, and that one of them be built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, which secured votes for Roosevelt in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the 1940 presidential election; in return, Roosevelt had BB-62 named the USS New Jersey.
In 1940, he won election as Governor of New Jersey, running in reaction to the political machine run by Frank Hague, but broke with family tradition by declaring himself a Democrat. As governor, he proposed updating the New Jersey State Constitution. Although it failed in a referendum and nothing was changed during his tenure, state legislators did reform the constitution later.
Between 1951 and 1969, he lived in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where he struck up a friendship with Herbert Hoover, who also lived there. In 1962, Edison was one of the founders of the Conservative Party of New York State.
In 1967, Edison hosted a meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York that led to the founding of the Charles Edison Youth Fund, later the Charles Edison Memorial Youth Fund. Attending the meeting were Rep. Walter Judd (R-MN), author William F. Buckley, organizer David R. Jones, and Edison's political advisor Marvin Liebman. The name of the organization was changed in 1985 to The Fund for American Studies, in keeping with Edison's request to drop his name after 20 years of use.
Edison married Carolyn Hawkins on March 27, 1918. They had no children.
In 1948, he established a charitable foundation, originally called "The Brook Foundation", now the Charles Edison Fund.
Charles Edison, former Governor of New Jersey, ... Mr. Edison, who had been admitted to the hospital on Wednesday, was 78 years ...