Governor Aaron T. Bliss was born May 22, 1837 in New York.
During the American Civil War, Bliss enlisted as a private in the Peterman Guards of the Tenth New York Volunteer Cavalry, October 1, 1861, and reported for duty at Elmira, New York. After a quick advancement to lieutenant, his regiment formed a part of Kilpatrick’s Brigade and was ordered to the front, joining the Army of the Potomac. He commanded a squadron from Washington, D.C. during the Second Battle of Bull Run and his rank advanced to captain. He also fought in the battle of Fredericksburg, the Wilderness, Petersburg, Ground Squirrel Church, Stony Creek, South Mountain, Falls Church and Warrenton. Then he was captured on General Wilson’s raid near Richmond.
For six months he was held at the Confederate prisons of Andersonville, Georgia, Charleston, South Carolina, Macon, Georgia, and Columbia, South Carolina, where on November 29, 1864, like the man who would later precede him as governor, Hazen S. Pingree, Bliss escaped from a Confederate prison. He walked near three weeks until he reached General Sherman’s army at Savannah, Georgia, just two days before its evacuation. Bliss soon rejoined his own command at Petersburg, Virginia, where he remained until the war ended.
In December 1865, he moved to Saginaw, Michigan and found employment at a shingle mill. With his brother, Lyman W. Bliss, and J. H. Jerome, he formed A. T. Bliss & Company and engaged in the manufacture of lumber and the exploitation of lands along the Tobacco River. In 1868 the brothers bought the Jerome mill at Zilwaukee, and it became A. T. Bliss & Brother. In 1880, Bliss was one of the organizers and a director of the Citizen’s National Bank, which was reorganized into the Bank of Saginaw, and was president and director of the Saginaw County Savings Bank.
In 1882, Bliss was elected member of the Michigan Senate from Saginaw County (25th district), and during that time helped establish a soldiers’ home in Grand Rapids. He was appointed aide-de-camp on the staff of Governor Russell A. Alger in 1885, with the rank of colonel, and held the same position on the staff of the commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1888.
In 1888, Bliss was elected as a Republican from Michigan’s 8th congressional district to the 51st Congress, serving from March 4, 1889, to March 3, 1891. Among notable bills he introduced were for appropriating $100,000 for a federal building in Saginaw and $25,000 for an Indian school at Mt. Pleasant. He was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election in 1890 to the 52nd Congress, being defeated by Democrat Henry M. Youmans.
After leaving Congress, Bliss resumed the lumber business and also engaged in banking. He was department commander of the Grand Army of the Republic in Michigan in 1897.
In 1900, Bliss was elected Governor of Michigan, defeating mayor of Detroit William C. Maybury, and was re-elected in 1902, serving from 1901 through 1904.
During his four years in office, the Michigan Employment Institution for the Adult Blind was established in Saginaw, a state highway department was formed, and railroad taxation was sanctioned.
Source: Aaron T. Bliss wikipedia entry