About David Holmes, Governor, U.S. Senator
David Holmes (March 10, 1769 – August 20, 1832) was the last governor of the Mississippi Territory and the first governor of the State of Mississippi.
Born in York County, Pennsylvania, Holmes and his family moved to Virginia when he was a child. He served as U.S. Representative from Virginia from 1797 until 1808.
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.
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. 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. He served only six months in office.
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 as governor of Mississippi forced him to resign. Because Holmes's declining health forced him to resign, he served only six months (January 1826 - July 1826) as Mississippi's sixth governor.
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.
Holmes County, Mississippi is named in honor of him.