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John B. Weller

Gov. John B. Weller

  • January 8, 1858 - January 9, 1860
  • Democrat
  • February 22, 1812
  • September 17, 1875
  • Ohio
  • Miami University
  • Married four times--First Lady was Lizzie Staunton; two children
  • Representative, Senator, Ambassador
  • National Guard


JOHN B. WELLER was born on February 22, 1812, in Montgomery, Hamilton County, Ohio. He attended Miami University from 1825 to 1829. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1832, and opened a private practice in Hamilton, Ohio. During the Mexican War, Weller served as a lieutenant colonel for the United States Volunteers. Weller entered politics as the prosecuting attorney of Butler County, serving from 1833 to 1836. He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1839 to 1845, and ran unsuccessfully for governor of Ohio in 1848. Weller served for one year as U.S. Commissioner of International Boundaries, but after a scandal was removed from the commission. He moved to San Francisco in 1850, and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1852, where he served until 1857. On September 2, 1857, he was elected Governor of California, and on January 8, 1858, he was sworn into office. During his tenure, he advocated making California an independent republic if the North and South separated over slavery, and he personally led a raid on San Quentin Prison, taking the prison back from a commercial contractor. Weller also dealt with an ongoing feud between opposing factions in the Democratic Party, which was led by U.S. Senator David C. Broderick and U.S. Senator William M. Gwin. The feud culminated in September 1859 when David S. Terry, a former judge of the California Supreme Court, killed U.S. Senator Broderick in a duel. Weller left office on January 9, 1860, and was appointed the U.S. Minister to Mexico, serving until 1861. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1864, and moved to New Orleans in 1867, where he continued to practice law. Governor John B. Weller died on August 17, 1875, and is buried at St. John’s Cemetery, New Orleans, LA.


Official Records: California State Archives

Image source: California State Library: Governors' Gallery

Governors of California 1849-2002

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.

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