Malachi Martin

Malachi Martin

Credit this photo: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,
(please include photographer's name when noted).


  • Malachi Martin

Image Number

  • N045276


  • Between 1873 and 1877

Series Title

    Biography Note

  • Malachi Martin was born in Ireland in 1822 and emigrated to New York in 1847.

  • Biography Note

  • After a brief time in the dry cleaning business, he joined the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant and was an assistant quartermaster by the end of the Civil War.

  • Biography Note

  • He moved to Gadsden County in 1868 and was elected to the legislature in 1872. In 1874, after aligning himself with Democrats and some other white Republicans who didn't want blacks to hold power, he was elected to the speakership of the House. During his tenure the House approved a series of constitutional amendments which reformed the state judiciary, put state finances on a sound footing, and provided for the legislature to meet every other year. He sought the speakership again in 1875, but Democrats had won a majority in the 1874 elections. The House elected Thomas Hannah, who started a 122 year run of Democratic speakers.

  • Biography Note

  • Martin used his connections in Tallahassee to win appointment as warden of Florida's prison in Chattahoochee, a position he held until 1877. He earned a reputation as a cruel and corrupt warden who used prisoner labor for his own benefit. "The American Siberia," a book written in 1891 described the prison as a place of almost unrelieved barbarity. Martin used inmate labor to build his home in Mt. Pleasant, west of Tallahassee, and to assist in his vineyards and winery from which he made a vast fortune.

Additional Creator

Physical Description

  • 1 photonegative - b&w - 4 x 5 in.

Subject Term

Geographic Term

Personal Subject

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