Elbert N. Carvel

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Elbert Carvel
Elbert Carvel (1963).png
61st and 64th Governor of Delaware
In office
January 17, 1961 – January 19, 1965
LieutenantEugene Lammot
Preceded byDavid Buckson
Succeeded byCharles Terry
In office
January 18, 1949 – January 20, 1953
LieutenantAlexis du Pont Bayard
Preceded byWalter Bacon
Succeeded byCaleb Boggs
12th Lieutenant Governor of Delaware
In office
January 16, 1945 – January 18, 1949
GovernorWalter Bacon
Preceded byIsaac MacCollum
Succeeded byAlexis du Pont Bayard
Personal details
Elbert Nostrand Carvel

(1910-02-09)February 9, 1910
Shelter Island, New York, U.S.
DiedFebruary 6, 2005(2005-02-06) (aged 94)
Laurel, Delaware, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Ann Hall Valliant

Elbert Nostrand "Bert" Carvel (February 9, 1910 – February 6, 2005) was an American businessman and politician from Laurel, in Sussex County, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party, who served as the 12th Lieutenant Governor of Delaware and two non-consecutive terms as the Governor of Delaware.

Early life and family[edit]

Carvel was born at Shelter Island, Long Island, New York, son of Arnold W. and Elizabeth Nostrand Carvel. Kent Island, Maryland was his childhood home. He married Ann Hall Valliant in 1932 and they had four children, Edwin, Elizabeth, Ann Hall and Barbara. They were members of St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Laurel, Delaware.

Professional and political career[edit]

After moving to Laurel in 1936, he began his management of the Valliant Fertilizer Company, that would continue throughout his political career. In his first attempt at public office, Carvel was elected lieutenant governor in 1944, defeating Republican Clayton Bunting, Sr. He served one term from January 16, 1945 to January 18, 1949.

He appeared on the television show "What's My Line?" on Nov 13, 1960.

Governor of Delaware[edit]

Carvel was first elected Governor of Delaware in 1948, defeating Republican Hyland F. George and served one term from January 18, 1949 to January 20, 1953. He lost a bid for a second term in 1952 to U.S. Representative J. Caleb Boggs. Subsequently, he lost an election for U.S. Senate in 1958 to incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John J. Williams. However, he was elected to a second term as Governor of Delaware in 1960, defeating Republican John W. Rollins, a former lieutenant governor. Soon after this, on November 13, 1960, he appeared as a contestant on the TV game show What's My Line?. His line was that he manufactured fertilizer. This time he served from January 17, 1961 until January 19, 1965. Carvel lost a final bid for a U.S. Senate seat in 1964, again to incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John J. Williams.

As only the second Democrat elected governor in 48 years, he was also the first Democrat ever to win two terms. He was opposed to capital punishment and was an early and persistent leader for civil rights legislation in a still politically conservative Delaware. As Governor he led the successful effort to create a Delaware Supreme Court, the lack of which threatened Delaware's ability to handle corporate litigation, and thereby ended Delaware's status as the only state without such a court.

Among his other accomplishments during his tenures in office were the building of the first span of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, developing numerous other roads and highways, establishing the Delaware Public Service Commission and initiating the Delaware State Development Department.

Death and legacy[edit]

Carvel died in Laurel, Delaware 3 days before what would have been his 95th birthday and is buried at the Carvel Family Cemetery, Kent Island, Maryland.

Known as "Big Bert," Carvel stood 6' 6". He was known as a liberal Democrat from conservative "lower Delaware," and never hesitated to promote causes of importance to him regardless of their impact on his political career or his fertilizer business. The state office building at 820 North French Street, Wilmington is named for him, as is the University of Delaware Research and Education Center in Georgetown, Delaware. The cafeteria in North Laurel Elementary School is named the "Carvel Room", after him.


Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor take office the third Tuesday of January and have four-year terms.

Delaware General Assembly
(sessions while Governor)
Year Assembly Senate Majority President
pro tempore
House Majority Speaker
1949-1950 115th Democratic Vera G. Davis Republican Harvey H. Lawson
1951-1952 116th Democratic Roy A. Cannon Republican Harvey H. Lawson
1961-1962 121st Democratic John B. Reilly Democratic Sherman W. Tribbitt
1963-1964 122nd Democratic Curtis W. Steen Democratic Sherman W. Tribbitt
Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
Lt. Governor Executive Dover January 16, 1945 January 18, 1949
Governor Executive Dover January 18, 1949 January 20, 1953
Governor Executive Dover January 17, 1961 January 19, 1965
Election results
Year Office Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1944 Lt. Governor Elbert N. Carvel Democratic 44,524 51% Clayton A. Bunting Republican 42,595 49%
1948 Governor Elbert N. Carvel Democratic 75,339 54% Hyland P. George Republican 64,996 46%
1952 Governor Elbert N. Carvel Democratic 81,772 48% J. Caleb Boggs Republican 88,977 52%
1958 U.S. Senator Elbert N. Carvel Democratic 72,152 47% John J. Williams Republican 82,280 53%
1960 Governor Elbert N. Carvel Democratic 100,792 52% John W. Rollins Republican 94,043 48%
1964 U.S. Senator Elbert N. Carvel Democratic 96,850 48% John J. Williams Republican 103,782 52%


  • Davis, Ned (2000). Charles L. Terry. Wilmington, Delaware: Delaware Heritage Press. LCCN 00133337. ISBN 0-924177-15-X.
  • Hoffecker, Carol E. (2000). Honest John Williams. Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press.
  • Hoffecker, Carol E. (2004). Democracy in Delaware. Wilmington, Delaware: Cedar Tree Books. ISBN 1-892142-23-6.
  • Martin, Roger A. (1984). History of Delaware Through its Governors. Wilmington, Delaware: McClafferty Press.
  • Martin, Roger (1997). Elbert N. Carvel. Wilmington, Delaware: Delaware Heritage Press. ISBN 0-924117-08-7.
  • Sobel, Robert; J. Racino (1988). Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States 1789-1978. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-930466-00-4.


External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Isaac J. MacCollum
Democratic nominee for Governor of Delaware
1948, 1952
Succeeded by
J. H. Tyler McConnell
Preceded by
Alexis I. du Pont Bayard
Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator (class 1) from Delaware
1958, 1964
Succeeded by
Jacob W. Zimmerman
Preceded by
J. H. Tyler McConnell
Democratic nominee for Governor of Delaware
Succeeded by
Charles L. Terry Jr.
Political offices
Preceded by
Isaac MacCollum
Lieutenant Governor of Delaware
Succeeded by
Alexis du Pont Bayard
Preceded by
Walter Bacon
Governor of Delaware
Succeeded by
Caleb Boggs
Preceded by
David Buckson
Governor of Delaware
Succeeded by
Charles Terry
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Strom Thurmond
Earliest serving US governor still living
Succeeded by
George Leader