HARRISON REED - GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA (1868-1873)

Harrison Reed

Harrison Reed (1813–1899) was the ninth Governor of Florida. Reed was born in Littleton, Massachusetts on August 26, 1813, to parents Seth and Rhoda Reed. At age 16, he apprenticed to a printer, but health problems caused him to quit. He became a merchant, in 1836 and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There he opened the first general store and started the first Sunday School. His business failed in the Panic of 1837. He then took a turn at farming. He was an early owner and editor of the Milwaukee Sentinel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from December 1837 until May 1842 and later co-founded the Madison State Journal in Madison.

He married Amanda Anna Louisa Turner on August 12, 1841, in Milwaukee. Together, they helped settle the towns of Neenah and Menasha. They had four children, one of whom died before the age of two.

In 1861 he moved to Washington, D.C. to assume a post at the Treasury Department. While in Washington, his wife died on October 13, 1862. In 1863, he was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln to be a tax commissioner in Florida to deal with seized Confederate property. While working as Tax Commissioner, Reed traveled to Fernandina Beach on several occasions. He met Chloe Merrick, a teacher of freedmen children, on one occasion. He became very impressed with Miss Merrick.

In 1865, President Andrew Johnson appointed him the postal agent for Florida. In 1868, Florida enacted a new constitution and Reed was elected governor by the people. He assumed office on June 8, 1868, however, it was not until July 4, 1868 that the federal commander of Florida recognized the constitution and the election as valid, giving Reed control of the state. He appointed Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs as Florida's first African-American Secretary of State, and commissioned Gibbs as a lieutenant colonel in the Florida State Militia. During his term, there were at least two efforts to remove him, the first by William Henry Gleason, his lieutenant governor from 1868 to 1870. Lt Governor Gleason proclaimed himself Governor in November, 1868. The State's Adjutant General and the County's Sheriff supported Reed and organized an effort to deny Gleason access to the Capitol. On November 24, 1868, the Florida Supreme Court held that the Senate had lacked a quorum and could not have impeached Reed.

During the second attempt to impeach Reed, Lieutenant Governor Samuel T. Day claimed to be Acting Governor from February 10 to May 4, 1872. While his impeachment was pending, Reed had felt he was disqualified from holding office, and had gone to his farm to await events. The Legislature adjourned without bringing him to trial, which he construed as tantamount to acquittal. While Day was in Jacksonville for a party caucus, Reed returned to Tallahassee, declared himself Governor, and appointed a new Attorney General. Reed's proclamation was then approved by the Secretary of State.

In 1869, Reed decided to advance his relationship with Chloe Merrick and traveled to North Carolina where Merrick was teaching freed children and proposed. They were married at Merrick’s home in Wilmington, North Carolina on August 10, 1869. They had one child.

Reed served as governor until January 7, 1873. After holding office, Reed went back to his farm along the St. Johns River and once again turned to journalism, this time editing a local magazine, The Semi-Tropical. Reed was appointed to a post office position by Benjamin Harrison in 1890. His final public service was to represent Duval County in Florida’s House of Representatives until his death in Jacksonville on May 25, 1899.

Source: Wikipedia

Luciano Mende

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