Open main menu

John Judson Bagley (July 24, 1832 – July 27, 1881) was a politician from the US state of Michigan, as well as its 16th Governor.

John J. Bagley
16th Governor of Michigan
In office
January 1, 1873 – January 3, 1877
LieutenantHenry H. Holt
Preceded byHenry P. Baldwin
Succeeded byCharles Croswell
Personal details
Born(1832-07-24)July 24, 1832
Medina, New York
DiedJuly 27, 1881(1881-07-27) (aged 49)
San Francisco, California
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Frances E. Newbury

Early life in New York and MichiganEdit

Bagley was born in Medina, New York to John and Mary M. (Smith) Bagley. Bagley was initially raised in Lockport, New York. However, at the age of eight, he moved with his family to Constantine, Michigan. At age thirteen, he moved, this time to the opposite side of the state – to Owosso, Michigan.

Bagley moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1847 as an apprentice and starting his working career in a small chewing tobacco shop of Isaac Miller. Bagley bought out Miller after seven years and renamed his store the Mayflower Tobacco Company, turning it into an industry leader that competed against other Detroit tobacco brands–at the time, tobacco was a major industry in Detroit.

Politics in MichiganEdit

In 1855, he won election to the Detroit Board of Education, a position he held three years, by which time he had helped found the Republican Party. He also served as an alderman in Detroit. On January 16, 1855, he married in Dubuque, Iowa to Frances E. Newbury, daughter of Rev. Samuel Newbury, a pioneer missionary of Michigan. They had seven children together.

Bagley also served on the Detroit Common Council from 1860 to 1861, and was a member of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners from 1865 to 1872. Bagley helped to organize the Michigan Mutual Life Insurance Company and served as its president from 1867–1872. During that time, he was also chairman of the Michigan Republican Party from 1868–1870.

Bagley served as Governor of Michigan between 1873 and 1877. He encouraged the establishment of a state commission to regulate railroads, dealt with the matter of juvenile delinquency, and led the effort to establish the state Board of Health and the state Fish Commission. Bagley, a Unitarian, was an enthusiastic supporter of prohibition and passed the liquor-tax law.

Retirement and deathEdit

Bagley died in San Francisco from tuberculosis, three days after his 49th birthday. He was interred in Woodmere Cemetery of Detroit, Michigan.


  • National Governor's Association
  • Political Graveyard
  • Memorial Library
  • Bingham, Stephen D. (2005) [1888]. "s.v. John J. Bagley". Early history of Michigan, with biographies of state officers, members of Congress, judges and legislators. Pub. pursuant to act 59, 1887. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Library. pp. 55–56. Retrieved May 2, 2007.

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
William Alanson Howard
Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party
1868– 1870
Succeeded by
Stephen D. Bingham
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry P. Baldwin
Governor of Michigan
Succeeded by
Charles Croswell