John S. Peters, Governor of Connecticut, 1831-1833

Governor John Samuel PetersBorn:  September 21, 1772, Hebron, Connecticut
College: Not known
Political Party: National Republican
Offices: Connecticut House of Representatives, 1810, 1816, 1817, 1824
Clerk of the Connecticut House of Representatives, 1825
Delegate to the State Constitutional Convention, 1818
Connecticut Senate, 1818-1822
Lieutenant Governor, 1827-1831
Governor, State of Connecticut, 1831-1833
Died: March 30, 1858, at Hebron, Connecticut

John Peters was born in Hebron in 1772 and apparently obtained an education on his own, for despite becoming a physician he is one of the few governors who never graduated from college.  He also never married.  His lack of a college education may have been caused, in part, by the loss of property that members of his family experienced during the American Revolution because they supported the British.  He spent his childhood working on farms and attending district schools.  He studied medicine under the guidance of established physicians, including several in Philadelphia, and returned to Hebron to set up his own practice.  Peters was a surgeon in Connecticut's militia and served with the troops that were stationed in 1814 at Fort Groton.

Peters spent nearly all of his life as a physician and he was involved in many medical organizations in the state, serving at one time as president of the Connecticut Medical Society.  He was also active in social and welfare organizations, and he was an advocate for better education in the state.  He was associated at various times with Yale and Trinity colleges.

Peters was first elected to the General Assembly in 1810 and served in both the House and the Senate at different times until 1827.  He also was a member of the state's Constitutional Convention of 1818.  In 1827 he was elected lieutenant governor, and when Governor Tomlinson resigned in March of 1831 to become a U.S. Senator Peters was assigned his duties.  In May he was elected outright as governor, but the voters and the Assembly failed to agree on a new lieutenant governor so that position was not filled for the entire year.  Peters easily won reelection in 1832. He urged the Legislature to make improvements to Connecticut's educational system, but this met with little success.  He also sought government help for transportation, but such assistance only came from the private sector.  In 1832 the first railroad in the state was approved.  In 1833 Governor Peters won more votes at the polls, but lacked 50% of those cast.  The Democrats controlled the General Assembly and it chose Henry Edwards instead of him.

Peters was the last Connecticut governor to serve under the banner of the old Republican Party, which began during the era of Thomas Jefferson. In the next two decades the Democrats and the Whigs controlled the state's politics.  Not only did many of their campaigns for governor become close contests, but more people chose to vote in state elections.

Once out of politics Peters maintained his interest in medical, educational and social organizations.  He died in 1858, 25 years after being governor.  He is buried in a cemetery behind Hebron's St. Peter's Episcopal Church.  The large stone monument there includes a bust of the governor.

.Bibliography

Highways & Byways of Connecticut.  Hartford: G. Fox & Co., [1947] [CSL call number F 94 .H54 1947].

Morse, Jarvis Means.  A Neglected Period of Connecticut’s History, 1818-1850.  New Haven:  Yale University Press; 1933 [CSL call number F 99 .M78].

National Cyclopedia of American Biography.  New York:  James White & Company, 1898-   , s.v. “Peters, John Samuel”, vol. X, p. 334 [CSL call number E 176 .N27].

Norton, Frederick Calvin.  The Governors of Connecticut.  Hartford:  The Connecticut Magazine, 1905 [CSL call number F 93 .N88 1905].

Peters, Edmond Frank Peters and Eleanor Bradley Peters, comps. Peters of New England. New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1903, pp. 180-82 [CSL call number CS 71.P48].Roll of State Officers and Members of General Assembly of Connecticut from 1776 to 1881..., Hartford: Conn: Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co., 1881 [CSL call number GIS Ref E 176 .B573].

Sobel, Robert and John Raimo.  Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978.  Westport, CT:  Meckler Books, 1978 [CSL call number GIS Ref E 176 .B573].

Portrait

38” x 45” in its frame, painted by George F. Wright (1828-1881). This portrait may have been done while Peters was alive for it depicts him as an old man. An earlier portrait of Peters, found in the above genealogy, depicts him closer to what he probably looked like when he was governor.

Originally prepared by David O. White, Museum of Connecticut History, Connecticut State Library.