ADDISON C. GIBBS was born in East Otto, New York. He studied at the State Normal School (teacher education school) in Albany and taught school while studying law. He went to California during the gold rush and then moved to Oregon in 1850 to manage the Umpqua Town-site and Colonization Land Company, selling land along the Umpqua River in southern Oregon. In addition to bringing milling machinery and zinc houses to Oregon from Boston, he staked a land claim north of Umpqua, helping to develop the town of Gardiner. In 1853 he participated in the Rogue River Indian War and that same year won appointment as Collector of Customs for southern Oregon. In 1858 he moved to Portland, where he entered into a law practice. He served as a Democrat in the territorial legislature during the 1852-53 term and won reelection to the legislature in 1860. But when the Union-Republican Party was formed in Oregon in 1862, he was among the first to join and won the party’s gubernatorial nomination and the general election. As governor, he was designated by the legislature to oversee the state penitentiary, where he introduced a system of manufacturing that used convict labor. He is credited with having started the movement that led to the establishment of the Oregon state militia. After leaving office, Gibbs was unsuccessful in his campaign for a U.S. Senate seat but won election as Prosecuting Attorney for the Fourth Judicial District and then appointment by President Ulysses S. Grant as U.S. District Attorney for the District of Oregon. He died in London, where he had lived for two years representing American parties selling land in the United States. His remains were returned to Oregon by an act of the state legislature, and he was buried in Portland.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 8. New York: James T. White & Company.