Biography and History

Walter Evans Edge (1873-1956) was a notable New Jersey businessman and politician. He was elected to serve New Jersey as Governor (1917-1919, 1944-1947) and as a United States Senator (1919-1929). Edge was born in Philadelphia on November 20, 1873 but moved at a young age to New Jersey. Edge's parents passed away shortly thereafter and he was forced to find gainful employment at age 17. His first job at a printing office in Atlantic City involved working as a "printer's devil;" from there, he moved onto advertising, with Dorland Advertising Agency in Atlantic City. The firm started small but grew quickly while promoting local resorts and attractions. Edge rapidly rose through the ranks, ultimately gaining control of the agency and expanding it internationally. Having gained financial independence, Edge moved into politics; his first political position was journal clerk of the New Jersey State Senate. Edge quickly moved up the ranks of the Republican Party and in 1901, was appointed Secretary of the State Senate. He served as a delegate from New Jersey at the 1908 Republican National Convention.

Edge first held office in 1909, when he was elected to the lower house of the New Jersey State Legislature. He was elected to State Senate in 1910, eventually becoming majority leader in 1912 and president in 1915. Edge was elected to his first term as Governor of New Jersey in 1916. Edge completed his quick ascent up the ranks of the Republican Party when he was elected to represent New Jersey as U. S. Senator in 1918. While in office, Edge supported the repeal of prohibition, the creation of the Port Authority of New York and the building of the Holland Tunnel; he also championed increased international trade and supported various Republican nominees for President, including Warren Harding and Herbert Hoover.

Edge resigned from the Senate in 1929 after Hebert Hoover appointed him Ambassador to France. He resigned from the ambassadorship in 1933 and spent the remained of the 1930s enjoying a temporary retirement. He traveled to Europe and purchased Sunny Hill Plantation, a hunting retreat in Georgia. Though retired, Edge remained active in Republican Party affairs, including campaigning for Wendell Willkie in 1940. Edge was ultimately motivated to return to public office after the onset or World War II. He again ran for Governor of New Jersey and was elected in 1943. Among Edge's accomplishments during his second term were revisions to the State constitution. Edge retired for the second time in 1947 after the completion of his second term. He was an active Republican for the remainder of his life, and was one of the first politicians to support Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential campaign.

Edge married Lady Lee Phillips in 1907. They had one child, Walter, Jr., together before Mrs. Edge passed away in 1915. Edge remarried, wedding Camilla Sewall in 1922. They had two daughters and a son together. Edge died on October 29, 1956.

Source: From the finding aid for MC042

  • Walter E. Edge Papers. 1782-1968 (inclusive), 1905-1956 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC042

    Walter Evans Edge (1873-1956) was a notable New Jersey businessman and politician, serving New Jersey as Governor from 1917-1919 and 1944-1947 and as a United States Senator from 1919-1929. The Walter E. Edge Papers document Edge's personal and professional life through correspondence, speeches, government documents, photographs, memorabilia, and scrapbooks.