JOHN BROWN FRANCIS was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He worked in the mercantile business and managed the large estate that he inherited from the grandfather who had raised him. He moved to Warwick, Rhode Island in 1821 at the age of thirty and was elected that same year to the Rhode Island General Assembly, in which he served until 1829. In 1831 he was elected to the state Senate, where he served until his election as governor. During his five gubernatorial terms, a new banking law was enacted, a bill passed giving brokers the authority to sell foreign and domestic lottery tickets, and the Rhode Island militia was recognized. Francis was defeated for reelection to a sixth term. In 1842 he was elected to the state Senate on the law and order ticket, and in 1844 he was selected to fill a seat in the U.S. Senate in which he served for only one year, choosing not to seek reelection but instead to campaign once again for a seat in the Rhode Island Senate, where he served for another ten years. Francis was also a member of the Brown University Board of Trustees for nearly thirty years and was Chancellor from 1841 to 1854.
Mohr, Ralph S. Governors for Three Hundred Years (1638-1954): Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.State of Rhode Island, Graves Registration Committee, August 1954.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 9. New York: James T. White & Company.
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.