David Holmes (politician)

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David Holmes
5th Governor of Mississippi
In office
January 7, 1826 – July 25, 1826
Lieutenant Gerard Brandon
Preceded byGerard Brandon
Succeeded byGerard Brandon
United States Senator
from Mississippi
In office
August 30, 1820 – September 25, 1825
Preceded by Walter Leake
Succeeded by Powhatan Ellis
1st Governor of Mississippi
In office
December 10, 1817 – January 5, 1820
Lieutenant Duncan Stewart
Preceded byHimself (as Governor of the Mississippi Territory
Succeeded by George Poindexter
4th Governor of Mississippi Territory
In office
March 7, 1809 – December 10, 1817
Appointed by Thomas Jefferson
Preceded by Robert Williams
Succeeded byHimself (as Governor of the State of Mississippi)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 4th district
In office
March 4, 1803 – March 3, 1809
Preceded by Abram Trigg
Succeeded by Jacob Swoope
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1797 – March 3, 1803
Preceded by Andrew Moore
Succeeded by James Stephenson
Personal details
Born(1769-03-10)March 10, 1769
Hanover, Province of Pennsylvania, British America
DiedAugust 20, 1832(1832-08-20) (aged 63)
Winchester, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Other political
Alma mater College of William and Mary

David Holmes (March 10, 1769 – August 20, 1832) was an American politician. He was a Virginia congressman, and later Mississippi statesman. He was appointed as the fourth and last governor of the Mississippi Territory and became elected as the first governor of the State of Mississippi. He served a term as Senator of Mississippi, and returned to serve part of a term as governor before ill health forced him to resign.


Born in near Hanover in the Province of Pennsylvania, Holmes and his family moved to Virginia when he was a child. He served as U.S. Representative from Virginia from 1797 until 1809.

Electoral history

  • 1797; Holmes was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives with 60.4% of the vote, defeating Democratic-Republican John Bowyer and Federalist John Steele.
  • 1799; Holmes was re-elected with 83.56% of the vote, defeating Federalist Robert Porterfield.
  • 1801; Holmes was re-elected over Federalist Alexander Sinclair.
  • 1803; Holmes was re-elected with 70.39% of the vote, defeating Federalist Isaac Van Meter.
  • 1805; Holmes was re-elected unopposed.
  • 1807; Holmes was re-elected unopposed.

Mississippi Territory

President Thomas Jefferson appointed him fourth governor of Mississippi Territory. Holmes was very popular and his appointment marked the end of a long period of factionalism within the territory. He was the last governor of the Mississippi Territory, serving 1809–17. Holmes was generally successful in dealing with a variety of matters, including expansion, land policy, Indians, the War of 1812, and the constitutional convention of 1817 (of which he was elected president).

Often concerned with problems regarding West Florida, he had a major role in 1810 in negotiations which led to the peaceful occupation of part of that territory. McCain (1967) concludes that Holmes' success was not based on brilliance, but upon kindness, unselfishness, persuasiveness, courage, honesty, diplomacy, and intelligence. [1]

Mississippi statehood

In 1817, Mississippi joined the Union as the 20th state and Holmes won the election to be the first governor of the State of Mississippi unanimously. [2] Holmes took the oath of office in October 1817, though Mississippi did not officially become a state until December of that year. During his term, he established the state judicial system and the state militia and organized the land east of the Pearl River that the Choctaw Indians ceded.

In 1820, the state legislature elected Holmes to be one of Mississippi's Senators in the U.S. Congress, and he served from 1821 until late 1825, when his election to another term [3] as governor of Mississippi forced him to resign. Because Holmes's declining health forced him to resign, he served only six months as Mississippi's fifth governor. If both territory and statehood years are counted, he is Mississippi's longest served Governor at over 11 years of service (10 years, 9 months, 29 days the first tenure, and 6 months, 18 days the second tenure).

Holmes returned to his native Virginia where his health continued to fail before his death in 1832 at Jordan's Sulphur Springs, near Winchester, Virginia, where he still lies in the Mt. Hebron Cemetery. He was predeceased by his brother, Major Andrew Hunter Holmes, a casualty of the War of 1812.


Holmes County, Mississippi is named in honor of him. [4]


  1. ^ McCain 1967
  2. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=233512
  3. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=233517
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 159.

Further reading

  • D.H. Conrad, "David Holmes: First Governor of Mississippi," Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, Centenary Series, vol. 4 (1921), pp. 234–257.
  • Howard P. Hildreth, "David Holmes," Virginia Cavalcade, vol. 16, no. 4 (Spring 1967), pp. 38–40.
  • William D. McCain, "The Administrations of David Holmes, Governor of the Mississippi Territory, 1809–1817," Journal of Mississippi History, vol. 29, no. 3 (1967) pp. 328–347.
  • Jo Anne McCormick Quatannens and Diane B. Boyle (eds.), Senators of the United States: A Historical Bibliography. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1995; pg. 136.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Williams
Governor of Mississippi Territory
Succeeded by
as Governor of Mississippi
Preceded by
as Governor of Mississippi Territory
Governor of Mississippi
Succeeded by
George Poindexter
Preceded by
Gerard Brandon
Governor of Mississippi
Succeeded by
Gerard Brandon
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Walter Leake
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Mississippi
Served alongside: Thomas H. Williams
Succeeded by
Powhatan Ellis
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Abram Trigg
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Jacob Swoope
Preceded by
Andrew Moore
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
James Stephenson