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Thomas Jordan Jarvis
North Carolina

Gov. Thomas Jordan Jarvis

  • February 5, 1879 - January 21, 1885
  • Democratic
  • January 18, 1836
  • January 17, 1915
  • North Carolina
  • Randolph-Macon College
  • Married Mary Woodson
  • Succeeded
  • Senator, Ambassador
  • National Guard


THOMAS J. JARVIS, the forty-fourth governor of North Carolina, was born in Jarvisburg, North Carolina on January 18, 1836. His education was attained at the Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, where he earned an undergraduate degree in 1860 and a M.A. degree in 1861. He went on to study law, and in 1867 was licensed to practice. During the Civil War, he served as a captain, and fought in the battle of Drewry’s Bluff, where he was seriously wounded in his right arm. After his military service, he established a successful career in politics. He served as a member of the 1865 and 1876 state constitutional conventions; and was a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives from 1868 to 1872. He also served as speaker of the house from 1870 to 1872; and was the lieutenant governor of North Carolina from 1876 to 1879. On February 5, 1879 Governor Zebulon B. Vance resigned from office, and Jarvis, who was the lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. He was elected to a term of his own in 1880. During his tenure, educational and industrial improvements were endorsed; the state’s immigration policies were promoted; and racial tolerance was supported. After leaving the governorship, Jarvis secured an appointment to serve as ambassador to Brazil, a position he held from 1885 to 1889. He also served as chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party in 1892; was a member of the U.S. Senate from 1894 to 1895; and served as a delegate to the 1896 Democratic National Convention. Jarvis also had a lifelong interest in education, and was instrumental in founding the East Carolina University, as well as establishing a Pasquotank County school. Governor Thomas J. Jarvis passed away on June 17, 1915, and was buried in the Cherry Hill Cemetery in Greenville, North Carolina.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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