JOHN S. BARRY, the fourth and eighth governor of Michigan, was born in Amherst, New Hampshire on January 29, 1802. His early education was limited and attained in the local schools of Vermont. After moving to Georgia, he studied law and established a legal practice. He also worked as an aide on the governor’s staff. In 1831 he relocated to Michigan, and established a successful career as a merchant. Barry entered politics in 1835, serving as a member of the Michigan Constitutional Convention. He also served as a member of the Michigan State Senate from 1835 to 1838, and won reelection to a second term in 1841. Barry next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and went on to win election to the governorship on November 1, 1841. He was reelected to a second term in 1843. During his tenure, the Michigan Central and Michigan Southern Railroads were advanced; the state’s population continued to flourish; and the University of Michigan opened its door to 114 students. Barry was constitutionally prohibited from serving more than two consecutive terms. He left office on January 5, 1846. However, three years later, he won reelection again to the governor’s office. He was sworn into office on January 7, 1850. During his final term, a new state constitution was approved; the normal school at Ypsilanti was authorized; and the state deficit was addressed. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, Barry left office on January 5, 1852. He returned to his mercantile business, and later served as a presidential elector in 1864. Governor John S. Barry passed away on January 14, 1870 in Constantine, Michigan.
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.
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