Ossian Bingley Hart
10th Governor of Florida
In office
January 7, 1873 – March 18, 1874
LieutenantMarcellus Stearns
Preceded byHarrison Reed
Succeeded byMarcellus Stearns
Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida
In office
Preceded byInaugural
Succeeded byFranklin D. Fraser
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1821-01-17)January 17, 1821
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
DiedMarch 18, 1874(1874-03-18) (aged 53)
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Catherine Smith Campbell
(m. 1843)
ParentIsaiah Hart

Ossian Bingley Hart (January 17, 1821 – March 18, 1874) was the 10th Governor of Florida from 1872 to 1874, and the first governor of Florida who was born in the state.

Early life and career

Born in Jacksonville to Isaiah Hart, one of the city's founders, he was raised on his father's plantation along the St. Johns River. He was a lawyer in Jacksonville. He moved to a farm near Fort Pierce, Florida in 1843, and was a founding member of the St. Lucie County Board of Commissioners.[1] In 1845, Hart became Florida State Representative for St. Lucie County. In 1846 he moved to Key West where he resumed his law practice. In 1856, he moved to Tampa, Florida. Among his clients was "Adam", a black man who was lynched after the Florida Supreme Court declared his murder conviction a mistrial.[2]: 269 

Despite his upbringing, Hart became a Republican and openly opposed secession from the United States, causing some difficult times for him during the American Civil War. Following the war, he helped reestablish the governments of the state and of the city of Jacksonville. In 1868, he was appointed a justice of the Florida Supreme Court. In 1870, he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress, only to be elected governor two years later on November 5, 1872. He appointed Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs as Florida's first African-American Superintendent of Public Instruction. During his tenure, "limited civil rights legislation was passed, and some improvements were made in the state's weakened finances."[3] Weakened by the campaign, he fell ill with pneumonia and died in Jacksonville. He was succeeded by lieutenant governor Marcellus Stearns, Florida's last Republican governor until 1967.

Personal life

He married his wife Catherine Smith Campbell, a resident of Newark, New Jersey, on October 3, 1843.[4][5]


  1. ^ Shofner, Jerrell H., History of Brevard County volume 1
  2. ^ Allman, T. D. (2013). Finding Florida. The True History of the Sunshine State. Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN 9780802120762.
  3. ^ "Ossian Bingley Hart". myflorida.com (Florida Department of State). Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  4. ^ "Historical Monument Trail : Visit : Friends of the Riverwalk". thetampariverwalk.com. Retrieved January 30, 2024.
  5. ^ "Ossian B. Hart Correspondence and Documents". original-ufdc.uflib.ufl.edu. Retrieved January 30, 2024.

Further reading

Party political offices Preceded byHarrison Reed Republican nominee for Governor of Florida 1872 Succeeded byMarcellus Stearns Political offices Preceded byHarrison Reed Governor of Florida January 7, 1873 to March 18, 1874 Succeeded byMarcellus Stearns