John Catlin

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John Catlin (October 13, 1803 – August 4, 1874) was an American lawyer, politician, public official, and officer within the railroad industry. Catlin served as acting governor of the Wisconsin Territory from June 23, 1848 until March 3, 1849.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Orwell, Vermont, Catlin attended school at Shoreham, Vermont's Newton Academy, and taught school for nine years. Catlin was admitted to the Vermont bar and practiced law. In 1836, he moved to Mineral Point, Wisconsin, where he helped set up a bank. He was president of the Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad, which became part of the Milwaukee Road. Catlin served as a clerk of the Wisconsin Territorial Supreme Court and the Wisconsin Territorial House of Representatives. He was elected to the Wisconsin Territorial Council. He also was the first district attorney of Dane County 1839-1843.[1][2][3] Caitlin was a founder of the Wisconsin Historical Society. He was a member of the Democratic Party.

Catlin was appointed the Secretary of Wisconsin Territory by President James Polk, and served from February 24, 1846 to March 3, 1849.

Acting governor of the Territory of Wisconsin[edit]

Catlin was named acting Governor of the Wisconsin Territory following Henry Dodge's term as Governor. Dodge ceased to be the governor of the Wisconsin Territory upon becoming a member of the United States Senate from Wisconsin.[4]

When the state of Wisconsin was admitted to the United States on May 29, 1848, part of the Wisconsin Territory was not included. John Catlin was acting governor of this part of the Wisconsin territory until the Minnesota Territory was organized on March 3, 1849, which included that part of the Wisconsin Territory. As acting governor, John Catlin went to the present-day city of Stillwater, Minnesota, where he issued a proclamation for a special election for the delegate from the Wisconsin Territory. Henry Hastings Sibley was elected the Congressional Delegate from the Wisconsin Territory, as a result of the special election.[5][6]

Catlin was the final Governor of the Wisconsin Territory.

Personal life[edit]

John Catlin was the first Master of Madison Masonic Lodge Number 5, the first lodge to be formed in the city of Madison, Wisconsin. He became the Master of Lodge 5, January 10, 1845 and was Master for two years.[7] Catlin was Wisconsin's first lawyer, and postmaster.[8]


Catlin died in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where he had retired to in 1863. Catlin was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in New York.[9]


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
George Floyd
Secretary of Wisconsin Territory
Succeeded by
Thomas McHugh
as Secretary of State of Wisconsin