Madison Starke Perry

Oak Ridge Cemetery, Hague, FL

Madison Starke Perry, born in Lancaster County, S.C., moved to Alachua County, Florida and became a prosperous planter. His plantation was located about six miles east of Gainesville in the area of present-day Rochelle. Perry was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1849 and to the Florida Senate in 1850, where he gained a wide reputation as an orator. A Democrat, he was elected fourth Governor of Florida, serving from 1857 through 1861. While Perry was Governor, major developments occurred in Florida. The Florida Railroad from Fernandina to Cedar Key was completed. A long-standing border dispute with Georgia was settled. Expansion of slavery brought related unrest, and in response, Governor Perry called for a strong state militia and the upgrading of military resources. As the Presidential election of 1860 neared, Governor Perry warned that secession might be Florida’s only option, should the Republican Party be victorious. On November 27, 1860, Governor Perry recommended that a convention by called to consider secession. The Florida Convention adopted the Ordinance of Secession on January 10, 1861. The Governor quickly ordered evacuation of all United States troops from Florida military installations, and their replacement by State militia troops. At the expiration of his term as Governor in October, 1861, Perry joined the Confederate army. He was soon elected Colonel of the newly organized Seventh Regiment of the Florida infantry. Illness forced his resignation in 1863. Returning to his plantation in Alachua County, he died in 1865. Perry is buried here at Oak Ridge Cemetery on land he set aside in 1854 for the community. Buried here with him are his wife, Martha Starke Perry; a daughter Sallie Perry; and a son, Madison Starke Perry, Jr., also a Confederate veteran.

TAGS: Southeast,19th Century