Robert Raymond Reid, the Florida Territory’s fourth governor, was appointed by President Martin Van Buren in December 1839. He presided over the convention that drafted Florida’s first constitution. Also, he was a strong advocate for the prosecution of the Second Seminole War.
Reid was born in Prince William Parish, Beaufort District, South Carolina, in 1789. Educated at the University of South Carolina as a lawyer, after college, he went on to practice law in Augusta, Georgia.
He began his public service at the age of 27 as a judge. From February 1819 to March 1823, he served as an at-large Representative from Georgia to the 15th, 16th, and 17th United States Congresses. After he left Congress, he held several judicial positions, which included the Superior Court of Georgia, Circuity Court Judge for Middle Georgia, and a city judge for August Georgia. In May 1832, his final appointment as a judge was by President Andrew Jackson to the District of East Florida Court.
A life full of personal tragedy
Reid married three times and was widowed twice as well as losing numerous children and grandchildren. Marrying his first wife Anna Margaret McClaws in 1811, he had five children, Janet James, Florida, Rosalie, and Robert Raymond III. Anna died in 1825, and Janet and James drowned in a sailing accident in 1839. His second marriage was to Elizabeth Napier D. Randolph in 1833 was short-lived as she died in 1834 during childbirth.
Finally, he married Mary Martha Reid in 1836. She went on to be known for her nursing work during the American Civil War. They had two sons, William and Raymond “Jenks.”
A victim of the yellow fever epidemic, Reid died at his home near Tallahassee on July 1, 1841. Striking Florida’s Panhandle hard, he also lost a daughter and granddaughter to the epidemic in 1841.