John Alexander Martin (March 10, 1839 – October 2, 1889) was the tenth Governor of Kansas.
Martin was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, a son of James and Jane Montgomery (Crawford) Martin. His father was a native of Maryland, and his mother a native of Pennsylvania. He was of Scots-Irish extraction, and the family was related to General Richard Montgomery. His maternal grandfather, Thomas Brown, was the founder of Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Martin was educated in the public schools and, at the age of fifteen, began learning the printer's trade.
In 1857, at the age of 18, he came to Kansas, bought the newspaper known as the Squatter Sovereign
, published at Atchison
, and changed the name to Freedom's Champion
. He continued to publish this paper until his death. He was a firm free-state
man and soon became actively identified with the political affairs of the territory. In 1858 he was nominated for the territorial legislature, but declined because he was not yet of legal age. In 1859 he was a delegate to the Osawatomie convention which organized the Republican party in Kansas
, and for the remainder of his life he was an unswerving supporter of the principles and policies of that organization. His intelligent activity in political affairs led to his being honored by election or appointment to various positions of trust and responsibility. On July 5, 1859, he was elected secretary of the Wyandotte constitutional
convention; was secretary of the railroad convention at Topeka in October, 1860; was a delegate to the Republican national convention of that year, and was elected to the state senate in 1861.
Before the expiration of his term as senator the Civil war
broke out, and in October, 1861, he was mustered into the United States volunteer service as lieutenant-colonel of the 8th Kansas Volunteer Infantry
. Early in 1862 he was appointed provost-marshal of Leavenworth and held the position until his regiment was ordered to Corinth, Mississippi, in March. There the 8th Kansas became a part of General Buell
's army, and it remained in the Army of the Cumberland
until the close of the war. On November 1, 1862, Lieutenant-Colonel Martin was promoted to full Colonel, and a few weeks later was assigned to duty as provost-marshal of Nashville, Tenn.
, which position he filled until the following June. With his command he took part in the battles of Perryville
and Battle of Lancaster, Kentucky; the various engagements of the Tullahoma campaign; the sanguinary battle of Chickamauga
, where on the second day he was assigned to the command of the Third brigade, First division, XX Corps
; and in November was present at the siege of Chattanooga
and the storming of Missionary Ridge
. With Gen. Sherman
's army he marched to Atlanta
in the memorable campaign of 1864, the line of march being marked by engagements at Rocky Face Ridge
, Dalton, Resaca
, Kingston, Kennesaw Mountain
and various other points. After the fall of Atlanta Colonel Martin's regiment joined in the pursuit of Gen. Hood
as he marched northward into Tennessee, where it closed its service. During the closing scenes of his military career Colonel Martin commanded the First brigade, Third division, IV Corps
, until he was mustered out at Pulaski, Tenn., November 17, 1864, receiving at that time the rank of brevet
brigadier-general "for gallant and meritorious services."
After the War
Returning to Kansas he resumed the editorial management of his paper, and again he became a factor in political affairs. In 1865 he was elected Mayor
of Atchison, of which city he had served as the third postmaster, holding the office for twelve years. For twenty-five consecutive years he was chairman of the Atchison county Republican central committee; was a member of the Republican national committee from 1868 to 1884, and secretary of the committee during the last four years of that period; served as delegate to the national convention of his party in 1868, 1872 and 1880; was a member of one of the vice-presidents of the United States Centennial
commission; was one of the incorporators of the Kansas State Historical Society, of which he was president in 1878; was president the same year of the Editors' and Publishers' Association; and from 1878 to the time of his death was one of the board of managers of the Leavenworth branch of the National Soldiers' Home
. During all the years following the Civil war he manifested a keen interest in the work and welfare of the Grand Army of the Republic
, and when the Department of Kansas was organized, he was honored by being elected its first commander.
For years before his election to the office of Governor, Martin had an ambition to be the chief executive of his adopted state, but knew he had to wait and prepare himself for the duties of the office in case he should be called to fill it. The call came in 1884, when he was nominated and elected. His first administration commended him to the people, and in 1886 he was reelected. His years of experience as a journalist and political leader gave him a ripe judgment which enabled him to discharge his gubernatorial duties with marked ability, and it is probable that no governor of Kansas ever retired from the office with a larger number of friends.
Marriage and Death
On June 7, 1871, Governor Martin married Ida Challiss, and together they had seven children.
Governor Martin died from pneumonia on October 2, 1889 in Atchison, Kansas at the age of 50.
- Martin, John Alexander. In Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc ... (II, 233–235). (1912). Standard Pub Co. .