Back to former Arkansas governors
John Selden Roane

Gov. John Selden Roane

  • April 19, 1849 - November 15, 1852
  • Democrat
  • January 8, 1817
  • April 8, 1867
  • Tennessee
  • Cumberland University
  • Married Mary Kimbrough Smith; five children
  • Succeeded
  • Army


JOHN SELDEN ROANE was born in Wilson County, Tennessee, on January 8, 1817. He was educated in the local schools in Wilson County, and attended Cumberland College in Princeton, Kentucky. Roane migrated to Arkansas in 1837, studied law, and was admitted to the bar that same year. He served as prosecuting attorney for the Second Judicial District from 1840 to 1842, and was a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1842 to 1843. After moving to Van Buren, he was elected in 1844 to the Fifth Arkansas General Assembly, serving until the start of the Mexican War, when he left office to volunteer for duty. Due to Governor Thomas S. Drew’s resignation, a special election was called, and on April 19, 1849, Roane was elected Arkansas’s fourth governor. During his term, both Calhoun and Sebastian counties were created. Roane also advocated programs for internal improvements, and increased funding for education. After a frustrating administration, Roane left office on November 15, 1852, returning to his law practice. During the Civil War, he served as brigadier general in the Confederate army. John Selden Roane died suddenly on April 8, 1867, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He is buried at the Oakland Cemetery, Little Rock, Arkansas.


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.

Donovan, Timothy P., and Willard B. Gatewood, Jr., The Governors of Arkansas, Essays in Political Biography, Fayetteville; The University of Arkansas Press, 1981

Herndon, Dallas T., and Centennial History of Arkansas, Vol. 1, Chicago, Little Rock, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1922. 3 vols.

Old State House Museum

Recent Arkansas Governors