JOSEPH W. MATTHEWS, the fifteenth governor of Mississippi, was born near Huntsville, Alabama in 1812. His education was attained in the common schools of his native state. After moving to Mississippi, he worked as a farmer and a surveyor. Matthews first entered politics as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, a position he held from 1840 to 1844. He also served as a member of the Mississippi State Senate from 1844 to 1848. Matthews next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 1, 1847. During his tenure, telegraph service was initiated throughout most of the state; an institution for the blind was created; and construction was finalized on the Brandon-Jackson railroad. Also, an insane asylum was established in Jackson; the state statutes were improved; an 1849 cholera epidemic was dealt with; and the University of Mississippi opened in 1848. After completing his term, Matthews left office on January 10, 1850, and retired from public service. Ten years later he returned to politics, serving as a member of the 1860 Democratic National Convention. He also served as a Confederate diplomatic commissioner during the Civil War. Governor Joseph W. Matthews passed away on August 27, 1862, and was buried in a private graveyard in Benton County, Mississippi.
*Note: exact month and date of birth are not known.
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.