Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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FINLEY, Jesse Johnson, senator, born in Wilson County, Tennessee, 18 November 1812. He was educated at Lebanon, Tennessee, and in 1836'7 was captain of a company of mounted volunteers from Tennessee that served in the Seminole war in Florida. On his return he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1838, and in 1840 removed to Mississippi County, Arkansas, where he was elected to the state senate in 1841. The following year he resigned and went to Memphis, Tennessee, where he practiced law. He was elected mayor in 1845, and after the expiration of his term of office in 1846 removed to Marrianna, Jackson County, Fla. In 1850 he was elected to the state senate, and in 1852 was presidential elector on the Whig ticket. In 1853 he was appointed judge of the western circuit of Florida to fill a vacancy, trod was subsequently elected to the same office for two terms without opposition. He was appointed judge of the Confederate court for the district of Florida in 1861, but resigned in March 1862, and volunteered as a private in the army. He was promoted successively to captain, colonel, and brigadier general. At the close of the war Judge Finley went to Lake City, Fla., and in 1871 removed to Jacksonville in the same state. He was then elected to congress as a Conservative Democrat, and served in 1875'9. In 1880 he was nominated against his wishes and took his seat, but was subsequently unseated by the rival candidate. In March 1887, he was selected by the governor to supply the vacancy in the United States senate that had been occasioned by the expiration of the term of Charles W. Jones, until a choice could be made by the legislature.
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