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John Cummins Edwards, 1844-1848


John Cummins Edwards was born on June 24, 1804 in Frankfort, Kentucky to John and Sarah Cummins Edwards and was raised near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He completed preparatory studies at Black’s College, Kentucky and studied law at Dr. Henderson’s Classical School in Rutherford County, Tennessee. Edwards was admitted to the Tennessee Bar in 1825 and began his law practice in Jefferson City, Missouri in 1828. In 1830, Governor John G. Miller appointed Edwards Secretary of State. He simultaneously served as a district judge in Cole County from 1832-1837. Edwards was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1836. He served as a justice on the Missouri Supreme Court from 1837-1839. Elected as a Democrat to the 27th U. S. Congress in 1841, Edwards served one term before seeking the Missouri gubernatorial nomination in 1843. He defeated Charles H. Allen on August 5, 1844 and was sworn in on November 20, 1844 as the ninth governor of the state of Missouri. As governor, Edwards oversaw the final resolution of the Missouri-Iowa border dispute. Legislation was passed to provide for the instruction of the deaf, dumb, and blind. The first railroad in Missouri, the Hannibal and St. Joseph was chartered during his administration. On February 16, 1847, Governor Edwards signed legislation establishing the Missouri State Hospital for the Insane in Fulton. He also instituted a tax collection system enabling the state treasury to go from a deficit to a surplus. During the Mexican War, Edwards ordered the Missouri Mounted Volunteers regiment into battle. Commanded by Alexander W. Doniphan and Sterling Price, the regiment played a celebrated role in the war. Edwards’ term expired on November 20, 1848 and a year later, he left Missouri for the California Gold Rush. He settled in Stockton and in 1851, was elected Mayor of Stockton. Governor Edwards died September 17, 1888 and is interred in the Rural Cemetery of Stockton, California.

The Collection

The records (1844-1848) of Governor John Cummins Edwards (1804-1888) include handwritten templates for Missouri state bonds, correspondence pertaining to the Mexican War, reports from military officials, and possible increases in militia forces; elections of U. S. Senators and legal opinions from the attorney general on constitutionality of elections and political districting; pardon, commutation, and fine remission requests, prison escapes, physical descriptions of criminals, reward for capture requests and subsequent gubernatorial orders; reports from the state tobacco warehouse in St. Louis; vacancies, requests for employment, supporting petitions, acknowledgements of appointments; and writs of election. Also included is outgoing gubernatorial correspondence pertaining to the Missouri banking system, proposed amendments to the Missouri Constitution, the Missouri-Iowa boundary controversy, and a slavery resolution from the Massachusetts legislature.

Rights and Reproduction

Copyright is in the public domain. Preferred Citation: [Item description], [date]; John Cummins Edwards, 1844-1848; Office of Governor, Record Group 3.9; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City.

How to Use this Collection

All references to places are within the state of Missouri unless indicated, and county is specified when known. The spelling of proper names varies greatly. When correct spelling could not be determined the original spelling was retained. Officeholders are Missouri officials unless noted (U. S. Senator, U. S. Secretary of State). State Representatives are referred to as Representative. U. S. Representatives are noted with the title Congressman.

Related Sources

The collection finding aid contains a full description of additional resources pertaining to Edwards at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; the State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia; Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; University of Missouri, Columbia; and the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

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