JOHN J. PETTUS, the twentieth and the twenty-third governor to serve Mississippi, was born in Wilson County, Tennessee on October 9, 1813. His education was limited and attained in the common schools of his native state. After moving to Mississippi, Pettus entered into a political career. He served as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1846 to 1848 and was a member of the Mississippi State Senate from 1848 to 1858, serving as senate president in 1854. On January 5, 1854, Governor Henry S. Foote resigned from office, and Pettus, who was senate president at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. He served in that capacity until January 10, 1854. Five years later, Pettus secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. He was elected governor by a popular vote on October 3, 1859 and was reelected to a second term in 1861. During his tenure, Mississippi seceded from the Union on January 9, 1861 and joined five other states to form the Confederate States of America. The state prepared for war, organizing troops, arms and provisions. After completing his term, Pettus left office on November 16, 1863 and then joined the Confederate Army. Governor John J. Pettus later moved to Arkansas, where he passed away on January 28, 1867. He was buried in the Flat Bayou Burial Ground in Jefferson County, Arkansas.
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.