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Charles Edison

Charles Edison (August 3, 1890 - July 31, 1969), son of Thomas Edison, was a businessman, Assistant and then Acting Secretary of the Navy, and governor of New Jersey.

Born at his parents' home Glenmont, he attended the Hotchkiss School[?] in Lakeville, Connecticut[?].

He married his college sweetheart Carolyn Hawkins[?] on March 27, 1918.

For a number of years 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 1959.

In 1937 President Roosevelt appointed Charles Edison as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, then as Acting 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 his gubernatorial campaign. 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 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 state constitution. Although it failed in a referendum and nothing was changed during his tenure, state legislators did reform the constitution later.

In 1948 he established a charitable foundation, originally called "The Brook Foundation", now the Charles Edison Fund[?].

Between 1951 and 1969 he lived in the Waldorf Astoria Towers[?], where he struck up a friendship with Herbert Hoover, who also lived there.

His personal mascot was the owl, and he collected objects depicting owls.


  • John D. Venable[?], Out of the Shadow: the Story of Charles Edison (Charles Edison Fund, 1978).

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