IN.gov - Skip Navigation

Note: This message is displayed if (1) your browser is not standards-compliant or (2) you have you disabled CSS. Read our Policies for more information.

Indiana Governor History

Governor History > By Year > John Gibson John Gibson

Acting Territorial Governor of Indiana

July 4, 1800-January 10, 1801
June, 1812-May, 1813

JOHN GIBSON was born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In 1758 he served in the Forbes expedition against the French at Fort Duquesne, remaining at Fort Pitt after the war as an Indian trader. At the outbreak of Pontiac's rebellion Gibson was captured and rescued from death when an old squaw whose son was slain in battle adopted him. For several years Gibson remained with the Indians in southwest Virginia, learning their language and customs, and he allegedly married a sister of Logan, the Mingo warrior. In 1764 he was released and returned to Fort Pitt. Ten years later he participated in Dunmore's War and was the translator for the written account of Chief Logan's famous speech, suing for peace. ("I appeal to any white man to say if he ever entered Logan's cabin hungry and he gave him not meat. . . . ")

During the early stages of the Revolutionary War Gibson was active in Indian negotiations; later he fought under Washington, eventually commanding his own regiment. After the war he was an Allegheny County judge, major-general of the militia, and a member of Pennsylvania's constitutional convention in 1790. Thomas Jefferson appointed the sixty-year-old Gibson secretary of the Indiana Territory in 1800, in which office he served until 1816. Although Gibson is known as Indiana's second territorial governor, he was really only acting governor during William Henry Harrison's absences. After the state government was formed in 1816, the elderly Gibson returned to Pennsylvania.

Source: Peat, Wilbur D. Portraits and Painters of the Governors of Indiana 1800-1978. Revised, edited and with new entries by Diane Gail Lazarus, Indianapolis Museum of Art. Biographies of the governors by Lana Ruegamer, Indiana Historical Society. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society and Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1978.

Source: Indiana Historical Bureau