Date in History:
1874 - Marcellus Lovejoy Stearns, who was only 34 years of age, assumed the office of Governor of Florida (acting) on this date, following the death of Governor Ossian B. Hart. Stearns became the 11th governor (1874-1877) of the state. He was born in Lovell, Maine, and came to Florida as a member of the Freedman’s Bureau after having lost an arm while on duty with the Union Army. Stationed in Quincy, Stearns remained in Gadsden County following his release from military service. He served in the 1868 Constitutional Convention as Gadsden County’s representative in Florida’s lower house from 1868 until 1872. From 1869 until 1872, he was Speaker. In 1869, he was appointed by President U. S. Grant to the position of United States Surveyor-General of Florida, a position he held until 1873. Elected Lieutenant Governor in 1872, he succeeded to the chief executive’s chair on the death of Hart. Stearns was defeated when he sought a regular term as governor in 1876. In 1877, he was appointed a United States Commissioner at Hot Springs, Arkansas. He held that position until 1880. Stearns died on December 8, 1891, and was buried at Lovell, Maine.