Jesse Franklin, Governor from Surry County

Jess Franklin - Governor 1820 - 21; state & U.S. Senator and representative; officer in Revolution. His home stood 1/4 mile south.

On August 31, 1823, former governor Jesse Franklin died at his home in Surry County. He was 63-years-old.

Born in 1760 in Orange County, Virginia, Franklin moved to North Carolina in 1776. He fought at the Battle of King’s Mountain and the Battle of Guilford Courthouse on the Patriot side and rose to the rank of major.

After the Revolution, Franklin served in the state legislature, representing both Wilkes and Surry Counties before serving a single term in the U.S. House of Representatives and two terms in the Senate. In 1816, Franklin became part of a commission, with David Meriwether and Andrew Jackson, to negotiate settlements with the Cherokee and Chickasaw.

By the time he was elected governor in 1820, Franklin was 60-years-old, overweight and in declining health. Despite his health issues, Franklin carried out his duties conscientiously and with his characteristic simplicity and practicality. He is perhaps best known for reforming the state’s penal code and advocating the settlement of the state’s borders.

Franklin declined to run for a second term and returned to his Surry County home where he remained until his death in 1823.

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