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Johnathan Jennings

Gov. Johnathan Jennings

  • November 7, 1816 - September 12, 1822
  • Democratic-Republican
  • January 1, 1787
  • July 26, 1834
  • New Jersey
  • Married twice--Ann Gilmore Hay, Clarissa Barbee
  • Resigned
  • Representative


JONATHAN JENNINGS, Indiana’s first governor, was born in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, in 1787. His education was limited and attained in the common schools of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.  In 1806, Jennings moved to the Indiana Territory, settling in Vincennes, where he studied law, established a legal practice, and published the Western Sun newspaper. Jennings entered public service, serving as a clerk to the receiver of public money. He also was an assistant to the clerk of the Territorial House of Representatives in 1807. Jennings won his first election in 1809, becoming a territorial delegate to Congress, a position he held for seven years. He also served as president of the 1816 Constitutional Convention, in which he was instrumental in the scripting of Indiana’s state constitution. After the constitution was in place, elections were held for members of the General assembly and for governor. In 1816, Jennings defeated Thomas Posey, the territorial governor, and became the new state’s first governor. During his tenure, he endorsed laws that aided in the safekeeping of lawfully free blacks, and he supported the establishment of a banking system, as well as an educational system. Also while governor, Jennings served on the 1818 commission that settled treaties with the Potawatomi, Wea, and Miami Indians. After serving two terms, Jennings resigned from the governorship on September 12, 1822, upon his election to Congress. He served in Congress from December 2, 1822 to March 3, 1831. After serving on the Indian negotiation commission in 1832, Jennings retired from public service.  Governor Jonathan Jennings died on July 26, 1834, and was buried at the Charlestown Cemetery in Charlestown, Indiana.


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.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Indiana Historical Bureau

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