JOHN F. MERCER was born at “Marlborough Point” in Stafford County, Virginia on May 17, 1759. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1775. He later studied law with Thomas Jefferson, who also became his political mentor. During the Revolutionary War, he served as first lieutenant of the 3rd Virginia Regiment; he participated in several battles, and rose to the rank of colonel by the end of the war. Mercer entered politics in 1782, serving as a Virginia delegate in the Continental Congress, a position he held three years. He served as a delegate to the 1787 U.S. Constitutional Convention, but resigned before signing the constitution, which he did not support. However, Mercer served as a delegate to the 1788 State convention that ratified the federal constitution. He also served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates in 1788, from 1791 to 1792, and from 1800 to 1801, and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1792 to 1794. The Maryland Legislature elected Mercer governor on November 9, 1801. He was reelected to a second term in 1802. During his tenure, the voting qualification of owning property was eliminated, and the initiation of the secret ballot was sanctioned. Mercer did not run for reelection and left office on November 15, 1803. He was again elected to the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served from 1803 to 1805. Governor John F. Mercer passed away in Philadelphia on August 30, 1821. His final resting spot is in a private cemetery on his Cedar Park estate in West River, Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
Eisenberg, Gerson G. Marylanders Who Served the Nation. Annapolis, MD: Maryland State Archives, 1992.
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.
White, Frank F., Jr. The Governors of Maryland, 1777-1972. Annapolis, MD: Hall of Records Commission, 1970.
Biographical Directory of U.S. Congress
Maryland State Archives