OSSIAN BINGLEY HART was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on January 17, 1821. After receiving his education in Washington, D.C., and Jacksonville, he studied law and was admitted to the Florida bar. Hart entered politics in 1844, as a one-term member of the Florida legislature. As the Civil War approached, Hart, who owned slaves but was a loyal Unionist, evaded serving in the Confederate army because of a medical exception. Under the Reconstruction Act of March 1867, Hart became Florida’s supervisor of elections, taking part in restoring the state’s government. In 1868, he was appointed to serve on Florida’s State Supreme Court, a position he held until 1873. Hart won the 1872 Republican gubernatorial nomination and was elected Florida’s 10th governor. During his tenure, a bonding program was sanctioned that improved the state’s weakened financial system and a limited civil rights act was enacted. A little more than a year into his term, Governor Ossian B. Hart contracted pneumonia and passed away on March 18, 1874. He is buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville, Florida.
Brown, Canter. Ossian Bingley Hart: Florida's Loyalist Reconstruction Governor. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1997.
Florida State Archives holds official papers of Governor Hart
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.