James Brown Ray
Governor of Indiana
February 12, 1825-December 7, 1831

Quarters of James B. Ray, Governor of Indiana (1825-1831)

 

Born in Jefferson County, Kentucky, Governor Ray studied law at the University of Cincinnati and established a practice in Brookville, Indiana. Prior to being elected governor he served one term as a State Representative and two terms as a State Senator.  He later became a major supporter of railroad development and envisioned Indianapolis with railroads radiating from its center.

During Ray's administration as the 4th governor of Indiana, the construction of the Michigan Road and the Wabash and Erie Canal was undertaken, and Ray served as a commissioner to negotiate treaties with the Potawatomi and Miami Indians in 1826. A hotheaded man, he engaged in long, rancorous public altercations with his political opponents during his second term. After his terms as governor he practiced law in Indianapolis with little success.  Ray was tall and wore his hair long and tied in a queue. A man described as "striking" and "egotistical," he was eccentric in his later years. No matter where he went, Ray always signed himself as "J. B. Ray, governor of Indiana and commander in chief of the army and navy."

Taking office one week before his 31st birthday, he became the state's youngest governor and served from 1825 to 1831, the longest period for an Indiana governor under the state constitution of 1816. During Ray's term as governor the state experienced a period of economic prosperity and a 45 percent population increase. He supported projects that encouraged the continued growth and development of the young state, most notably internal improvements, Native American removal, codification of Indiana's laws, improved county and local government, and expanded educational opportunities. Ray was known for his eccentricity and early promotion of a large-scale railroad system in the state. His support for new railroad construction and alleged involvement in several scandals caused him to lose popularity among voters. Ray's opponents who favored the creation of canals considered railroads to be an impractical, utopian idea. Following Ray's departure from political office, he continued to advocate for a statewide railroad system until his death in 1848.

Images: The placard on the cabin (top right); Reenactors portraying participants of the original treaty signing (bottom left); Current Paradise Spring Board President, Greg Moore portrays Gov. James Ray beside board member Bruce Rovelstad in period costume (below right)   

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