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John Alexander Martin

Gov. John Alexander Martin

  • January 12, 1885 - January 14, 1889
  • Republican
  • March 10, 1839
  • October 2, 1889
  • Pennsylvania
  • Married Ida Challis; seven children
  • Army


JOHN A. MARTIN, the tenth governor of Kansas, was born in Brownville, Pennsylvania on March 10, 1839. His education was attained in the public school system of his native state. After learning the printing trade, Martin moved to Kansas, where he eventually bought the Squatter Sovereign, which later was changed to Freedom’s Champion, and then to the Atchison Champion. During the Civil War, he served as lieutenant colonel of the 8th Kansas Infantry, fought courageously in numerous battles, and was brevetted a brigadier general. Martin entered politics in 1859, serving as secretary of the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention. He served as a delegate to the first Republican Convention in 1860, and was a member of the 1860, 1868, 1872, and 1880 Republican National Conventions. He also served as a member of the Kansas State Senate from 1859 to 1861, and was mayor of Atchison, serving in 1865 and 1878 to 1880. Martin won the 1884 Republican gubernatorial nomination, and was sworn into the governorship on January 12, 1885. He was reelected to a second term in 1886. During his tenure, the bureau of labor statistics was created, a state reformatory at Hutchinson was established, railroad construction was advanced, a soldier orphan home was founded, the state militia was restructured into the national guard, and women were granted the right to vote. Also, 182 schoolhouses were built, the Missouri Pacific Railroad strike of 1886 was negotiated, and the county seat conflicts were dealt with. Martin did not seek reelection, and left office on January 14, 1889, returning to his duties at the Champion. Governor John A. Martin died on October 2, 1889, and was buried at the Mt. Vernon Cemetery in Atchison, Kansas.


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.

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