John Milton (Florida politician)

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John Milton
John Milton Florida.jpg
5th Governor of Florida
In office
October 7, 1861 – April 1, 1865
Preceded by Madison S. Perry
Succeeded by Abraham K. Allison
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born April 20, 1807
near Louisville, Georgia
Died April 1, 1865(1865-04-01) (aged 57)
Marianna, Florida
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Susan Amanda Cobb
Caroline Howze

John Milton (April 20, 1807 – April 1, 1865) was an American lawyer and politician, who was the fifth Governor of Florida. Elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1850, he supported states' rights and strongly advocated secession, becoming Governor in October 1861. As the war neared its end, he was found dead of gunshot, widely assumed to be suicide.

Early life[edit]

Milton was the son of Homer Virgil Milton (1781–1822), an officer who fought in the War of 1812,[1] and the grandson of Revolutionary War hero and former Georgia Secretary of State, John Milton (1756–1804). Born near Louisville, Georgia, he married Susan Cobb in about 1830, and they had 4 children. John and Susan Milton lived in Georgia and later in Alabama. Susan Cobb Milton died in 1842; John later got remarried to a Caroline Howze from Alabama in 1844, and they had 10 children. John and Caroline lived in Alabama, in New Orleans, and eventually settled in northern Florida, in Marianna. One of his sons was Old West lawman Jeff Milton. One of John's grandsons, William Hall Milton (1864–1942), served as a United States Senator from Florida (1908–1909).


During his career, John became a lawyer, practicing in a number of communities in Georgia and Alabama, before settling in New Orleans. He came to Florida in 1846, and quickly entered the Florida political scene. In 1848, he served as a presidential elector for the state, then in 1850 was elected to the Florida House of Representatives.

American Civil War[edit]

As a strong supporter of states' rights, he was an early advocate for secession of Florida from the Union. He was a delegate to the 1860 Democratic National Convention from Florida and in the same year ran for the office of governor. A convention was called for to take up the issue of secession and on January 10, 1861, the measure passed. He took the oath of office on October 7, 1861. During the Civil War, Milton stressed the importance of Florida as a supplier of goods, rather than men, with Florida being a large provider of food and salt for the Confederate Army. As the war drew to a close and the Confederacy was close to defeat, he became worn down by the stress of his office. Governor Milton left Tallahassee for his plantation, "Sylvania," in Marianna, Florida.


In his final message to the state legislature, he said that Yankees "have developed a character so odious that death would be preferable to reunion with them." On April 1, 1865, he was found dead of gunshot, widely assumed to be suicide at the prospect of Union victory and Republican government.[2] The president of the Florida Senate, Abraham K. Allison, was sworn in as governor of Florida later that day.

He is buried at Saint Luke's Episcopal Cemetery in Marianna.


  1. ^ Johnson, Rossiter; Brown, John Howard (1 September 2018). "The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans ..." Biographical Soceity – via Google Books. 
  2. ^ "Florida Governor John Milton". National Governors Association. Archived from the original on 9 December 2009. Retrieved 1 June 2009. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Madison S. Perry
Governor of Florida
October 7, 1861 – April 1, 1865
Succeeded by
Abraham K. Allison