HENRY LAURENS MITCHELL, Florida’s 16th governor, was born in Jefferson County, Alabama, on September 3, 1831. He was educated in Alabama’s public school system, moved to Tampa and studied law, and in 1849 was admitted to the Florida bar. Mitchell enlisted in the Confederate army and was promoted to the rank of captain in the 4th Florida Infantry. He entered politics in July 1863, resigning his military commission to take his seat in the Florida House of Representatives, a position he was reelected to in 1873 and 1875. He served on the bench of the Sixth Circuit Court from 1877 to 1888, and was a justice of the Florida Supreme Court from 1888 to 1891. In 1892 he won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and was elected Governor of Florida. During his tenure, Mitchell endured several hardships that affected the welfare of the state. The depression of 1893 disabled the state’s economic solidity, a hurricane in 1896 destroyed property and claimed numerous lives, and the “great freeze” of 1894-1895 damaged and killed citrus trees throughout most of the state, causing an immense loss of revenue. After leaving office on January 5, 1897, Mitchell served four years as clerk of the Hillsborough County Circuit Court, and was elected county treasurer in 1902. Governor Henry L. Mitchell died on October 14, 1903, and is buried at the Oaklawn Cemetery in Tampa, Florida.
Florida State Archives holds the official papers of Governor Mitchell.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.