JAMES WHITFIELD, the eighteenth governor of Mississippi, was born in Elbert County, Georgia on December 15, 1791. His education was limited and attained in the common schools of his native state. He moved to Mississippi and settled in Columbus, where he became a successful merchant and planter. Whitfield first entered politics as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, a position he held from 1842 to 1850. He also served as a member and president of the Mississippi State Senate in 1851. On November 4, 1851, Acting Governor John I. Guion’s term expired. Twenty days later, in a special legislative session, Whitfield was named senate president, and succeeded to the governor’s office. He served in that capacity until January 10, 1852, when the new governor elect took office. Whitfield continued to stay politically active, winning reelection to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1858. Governor James Whitfield passed away on June 25, 1875, and was buried in the Friendship Cemetery in Columbus, Mississippi.

SOURCES:

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

Mississippi Historical Society

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