John Milton (Florida Politician)

John Milton (April 20, 1807 – April 1, 1865) was an American politician who was the fifth Governor of Florida. Milton was the son of Homer Virgil Milton (1781–1822) and the grandson of Revolutionary War hero and former Georgia Secretary of State, John Milton (1756–1804).

John was born near Louisville, Georgia. He married Susan Cobb in Georgia about 1830, and they had 4 children. John and Susan lived in Georgia and later in Alabama. Susan Cobb Milton died in 1842; John later got re-married 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. 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." Stating "death would be preferable to reunion," on April 1, 1865, he committed suicide, in his home, by a gunshot to the head. 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.

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    —John Milton (1608–1674)