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Charles Poletti
46th Governor
Dec. 3–Dec. 31, 1942
Harvard-educated, Charles Poletti (1903–2002) served as Counsel to Governor Lehman, who appointed him as a justice of the New York Supreme Court in 1937, a seat to which he was later elected for a 14-year term. He interrupted his term to serve as Lehman’s lieutenant governor. Upon Lehman’s resignation, Poletti became the first Italian-American governor in the United States, but served for only 29 days, the shortest tenure of any governor of New York. After leaving Albany, Poletti played a major role in the United States Army in the reconstruction of Italy after World War II.
Portrait: Edward P. Buyck (1888–1960) was born in Bruges, Belgium and studied art in Antwerp and at the École des Beaux- Arts in Paris. He moved to Slingerlands, New York, where he painted landscapes and portraits, some of which are located in the White House collection.

More Information

Poletti, Charles (b Barre,Vt, 2 July 1903; d Marco Island, Fla, 8 Aug 2002). Governor.

The son of working-class Italian immigrants, Poletti was educated at Harvard College, the University of Rome, and Harvard Law School, from which he graduated in 1928. He cultivated ties with the Democratic Party when he joined the Wall St law firm of John W. Davis, the 1924 Democratic presidential candidate. Poletti was legal counsel to Gov Herbert H. Lehman from 1933 to 1937, when he was elected a justice to the state supreme court. He also chaired the committee that prepared the Poletti Report with materials for use at the state’s 1938 Constitutional Convention, to which he was a delegate. Poletti was elected as Lehman’s lieutenant governor in November 1938. He became governor on 2 Dec 1942 and served the last month of Lehman’s term after Lehman resigned to direct foreign relief efforts. As governor Poletti continued his work of directing the state’s civil defense and other wartime programs. He served in the army from 1943 to 1945, rising to the rank of colonel while administering Allied military relief operations in Italy. Poletti then resumed the practice of law in Manhattan.He served as a trustee of the New York Power Authority from 1955 to 1960 and was vice president for international relations for the 1964–65 World’s Fair in New York City before moving to Florida in 1965.

Public Papers of Charles Poletti, 50th Governor of the State of New York, 1942 (Albany: Williams Press, 1947)

Laura-Eve Moss

Peter Eisenstadt, ed., The Encyclopedia of New York State
(Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), [p. 1216].
© Syracuse University Press. Reproduced with permission from the publisher.

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