MARCELLUS LOVEJOY STEARNS, Florida’s 11th governor, was born in Lovell, Maine, on April 29, 1839. He attended Waterville College (Colby College today) for two years, leaving early to serve in the Union army. He enlisted in the 12th Maine Volunteer Infantry, lost an arm at the Battle of Winchester, earned the rank of major, and studied law before being discharged. After his military service, Stearns entered politics as a delegate to the 1868 Florida constitutional convention. He also was a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 1868 to 1872, serving as speaker from 1869 to 1872. He was the U.S. surveyor general of Florida from 1869 to 1873, and he was elected lieutenant governor of Florida in 1872. On March 18, 1874, Governor Ossian Hart passed away, and Stearns, who was lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governor’s office. During his tenure, he was successful in decreasing the deficit and stabilizing the budget. Also, state tourism increased, bringing added revenue to the state. Stearns ran unsuccessfully for the governor’s office in 1876, and left office after finishing out Hart’s term. He then served as U.S. commissioner of Arkansas from 1877 to 1880, and he was the president of the Iowa Atlantic National Bank in 1887. Governor Marcellus L. Stearns died on December 8, 1891, and is buried at Lovell, Maine.
Florida State Archives holds official papers of Governor Stearns
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.