William J. Northen

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William Jonathan Northen
William J. Northen.jpg
54th Governor of Georgia
In office
November 8, 1890 – October 27, 1894
Preceded byJohn Brown Gordon
Succeeded byWilliam Yates Atkinson
Personal details
William Jonathan Northen

(1835-07-09)July 9, 1835
Jones County, Georgia U.S.
DiedMarch 25, 1913(1913-03-25) (aged 77)
Atlanta, Georgia U.S.
Political partyDemocratic Party
Alma materMercer University

William Jonathan Northen (July 9, 1835 – March 25, 1913), was the 54th Governor of Georgia from 1890 to 1894.

Early life[edit]

Born in Jones County, Georgia, Northen graduated from Mercer University in 1853. He married Martha Neel in 1860 and served as a two-term member of the Georgia House of Representatives (1877–1881). He also was elected to the Georgia Senate in 1884. He was one of the biggest planters in Hancock County, Georgia.

Religious life[edit]

Northen was president of the Georgia Baptist Convention from 1892 to 1910,[1] and president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1899 to 1901.[2]

Political Life[edit]

Forced to resign from teaching, Northen began to farm. After the Civil War, farming in Georgia needed reform. Northen set his sights on the Georgia House of Representatives, where he earned the trust of fellow farmers in the same situation as he. He uplifted the spirits of his fellow Georgians, who elected him to two terms in the state House, one term in the state Senate, and president of the Georgia Agricultural Society. He was elected to his first term as governor in 1890.

Northen was a Democrat and a staunch foe of the Populist party.[3] He promoted biracial cooperation among races and was against lynching, a common occurrence at the time.[4] "I regret that the necessity exists for recommending the passage of more stringent laws for the protection of human life," he told state legislators in October 1892.[5]

He was a proponent of temperance, and offered a temperance bill to the Georgia General Assembly on July 14, 1881. The bill passed the House, but was swiftly defeated in the Senate.[6]

Despite opposition from Thomas E. Watson, who supported the Populist Party's candidate, Northen won a second term as governor in 1892.

Death and legacy[edit]

Northen contributed to the history of Georgia by compiling a seven-volume collection of biographical essays, published between 1907 and 1912, titled Men of Mark in Georgia. In 1911, he replaced Allen D. Candler as compiler of state records and contributed to the ongoing publication of the Colonial Records of Georgia series.

He died in 1913, in Atlanta, Georgia. Northen is buried in Oakland Cemetery.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Raybon, S. Paul (1992). "Stick by the old paths: an inquiry into the Southern Baptist response to Populism". American Baptist Quarterly. 11 (3): 241. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  2. ^ Caner, Emir; Caner, Ergun (2003). The sacred trust : sketches of the Southern Baptist Convention presidents. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman. p. 27. ISBN 080542668X. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  3. ^ Raybon, S. Paul (1992). "Stick by the old paths: an inquiry into the Southern Baptist response to Populism". American Baptist Quarterly. 11 (3): 241. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  4. ^ Harvey, Paul (2012). "'The right-minded members of that race': southern religious progressives confront race, 1880-1930". Perspectives in Religious Studies. 39 (3): 242. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  5. ^ Thurston, Robert W. (2011). Lynching : American Mob Murder in Global Perspective. Farnham, Surrey, England: Routledge. p. 295. ISBN 9781409409090. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  6. ^ Wagner, Michael A. (2009). "'As Gold Is Tried In The Fire, So Hearts Must Be Tried By Pain': The Temperance Movement in Georgia and the Local Option Law of 1885". Georgia Historical Quarterly. 93 (1). Retrieved June 1, 2016.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John Brown Gordon
Governor of Georgia
1890 – 1894
Succeeded by
William Yates Atkinson
Preceded by
Jonathan Haralson
President of the Southern Baptist Convention

William J. Northen

Succeeded by
James Philip Eagle