John Willis Ellis

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John Willis Ellis
35th Governor of North Carolina
In office
January 1, 1859 – July 7, 1861
Preceded by Thomas Bragg
Succeeded by Henry Toole Clark
Personal details
Born John Willis Ellis
(1820-11-23)November 23, 1820
Rowan County, North Carolina
Died July 7, 1861(1861-07-07) (aged 40)
Red Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary White,
Mary McKinley Daves
Children 2
Alma mater University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Profession Lawyer, politician

John Willis Ellis (November 23, 1820 – July 7, 1861) was the 35th Governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1859 to 1861. He was born in Rowan County, North Carolina.

Ellis attended the University of North Carolina, studied law under Richmond Mumford Pearson, practiced law, and was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly from Rowan County. He served as a state superior court judge from 1848 to 1858. He was elected Governor in 1858 by a large majority over Duncan K. McRae, a Democrat supported by remnants of the Whig Party. Ellis was easily re-elected in 1860 over John Pool.

As the American Civil War was beginning, President Abraham Lincoln requested troops from North Carolina to quell the rebellion. Ellis replied, “I can be no party to this wicked violation of the laws of the country and to this war upon the liberties of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina.” During the start of the U.S. Civil War Governor John Willis Ellis ordered cadets from the North Carolina Military Academy to Raleigh, North Carolina to serve as drill masters.

Shortly after North Carolina seceded from the Union, Ellis died in office. The Speaker of the North Carolina Senate, Henry T. Clark, completed his term. He is buried at the Old English Cemetery in Salisbury, North Carolina.

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Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Bragg
Governor of North Carolina
1859–1861
Succeeded by
Henry T. Clark