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Dick branch
19th Governor of North Carolina

In office
Preceded by William Miller
Succeeded by Jesse Franklin
United States Senator from North Carolina

In office
March 4, 1823 – March 4, 1829
Preceded by Montfort Stokes
Succeeded by Bedford Brown
8th United States Secretary of the Navy

In office
March 9, 1829 – May 12, 1831
Preceded by Samuel L. Southard
Succeeded by Levi Woodbury
6th Territorial Governor of Florida

In office
August 11, 1844 – June 25, 1845
Preceded by Richard K. Call
Succeeded by William Dunn Moseley (as Governor of the State of Florida)
Personal details
Born (1782-11-04)November 4, 1782
Halifax County, North Carolina
Died January 3, 1863(1863-01-03) (aged 80)
Halifax County, North Carolina
Political party Democratic-Republican
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Forte (d.19 Jan 1854) Mary Elizabeth Jordan Bond
Alma mater University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Profession Politician, lawyer, farmer

John Branch, Jr. (November 4, 1782 – January 3, 1863) served as U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Navy, the 19th Governor of the state of North Carolina, and was the sixth and last territorial governor of Florida.

Branch was born in Halifax County, North Carolina, on November 4, 1782, the son of wealthy landowners. Educated at the University of North Carolina, he occupied himself as a planter and civic leader. Branch served in the North Carolina Senate from 1811 to 1817 and was the state's Governor from 1817 to 1820. After further service in the state Senate, he represented North Carolina in the United States Senate from 1823 until 1829 and was a strong supporter of Andrew Jackson.

When Jackson became President, he selected Branch as his Secretary of the Navy. In that post, Branch promoted several reforms in the Navy's policies and administration, many of which were not implemented until years later. He reduced the resources going to the construction of new ships, while increasing those applied to keeping existing vessels in good repair. Branch also sent the frigate USS Potomac to the Far East to punish the murderers of a U.S. merchant ship's crew and to generally promote and protect American commerce in the region.

John Branch resigned as Secretary in 1831, during the Petticoat affair, which involved the social ostracism of Margaret O'Neill Eaton, the wife of Secretary of War John H. Eaton by a group of Cabinet members and their wives led by Floride Calhoun, the wife of Vice President John C. Calhoun. Later that year, Branch was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Jacksonian and later to North Carolina state political offices. In the mid-1830s, he moved to Leon County, Florida, where he lived for much of the next decade-and-a-half on his Live Oak Plantation. In 1844, President John Tyler appointed him Florida's territorial governor until the 1845 election of a governor under the state constitution. Branch returned to North Carolina in the early 1850s, remaining there until his death on January 4, 1863.

Branch is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Enfield, North Carolina.

Branch was an uncle of the Confederate General Lawrence O'Bryan Branch.


  • American National Biography
  • Dictionary of American Biography
  • Haywood, Marshall Delancey. John Branch: 1782-1863. Raleigh, NC: Commercial Printing Co., 1915;
  • Hoffmann, William S. John Branch and the Origins of the Whig Party in North Carolina. North Carolina Historical Review 35 (July 1958): 299-315.

See also

  • Branch County, Michigan - A county in Michigan that was named after him


Political offices
Preceded by
George Outlaw
Speaker of the North Carolina Senate
Succeeded by
Bartlett Yancey
Preceded by
William Miller
Governor of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Jesse Franklin
Preceded by
Richard K. Call
Territorial Governor of Florida
Succeeded by
William Dunn Moseley
United States Senate
Preceded by
Montfort Stokes
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from North Carolina
Served alongside: Nathaniel Macon, James Iredell, Jr.
Succeeded by
Bedford Brown
Government offices
Preceded by
Samuel L. Southard
United States Secretary of the Navy
Succeeded by
Levi Woodbury
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Willis Alston
United States Representative in Congress
from North Carolina's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Jesse A. Bynum

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