Francis P. Fleming, soldier, statesman and jurist, was born in Duval County, Florida, September 28th, 1841. Son of Colonel Lewis Fleming and his second wife Margaret Seton, both of whom were natives of Florida. He was educated principally by private tutors and was always a close student.
In May, 1861, at the age of nineteen, he enlisted in the company of Captain John W. Starke, which was organized at Palatka, and which was one of the companies composing the Second Florida Infantry. The Regiment was mustered into the Confederate service and seny forward to Virginia in July, 1861. He seved as a private in this company and regiment in the armies, respectively of Magruder, at Yorktown, and of Johnston and Lee. Afterwards he was made Quartermaster-Sergeant of the Regiment, retaining the position till August, 1863. He was then commissioned First Lieutenant of Company D., First Florida Cavalry, dismounted, Army of Tennessee. In this command he served with distinction in the armies of Johnston and Hood in North Georgia, and throughout the entire war acquitted himself as a faithful soldier and gallant officer.
After the war he returned to Jacksonville and read law in the office of E. M. L'Engel, Esq., and in May, 1868, was admited to practice. From that time onward his course was steadily upward. In 1873 he became a member of the celebrated law firm of Fleming & Daniel, probably the stronest ever known in Florida. He continued with this firm until its dissolution in 1888, caused by the death of the two senior members, Colonels Louis I. Fleming and J. J. Daniel. In the meanwhile he had received the Democratic nomination for Governor at the St. Augustine convention in May, 1888. The campaign that fall was made under the most trying conditions, owing to the presence of yellow fever in many parts of the State. He was elected by a lare majority in November, and was duly inaugurated January 8th, 1889. He held this high office for four years, and on his retirement in January, 1893, returned to the practice of law in Jacksonville. No man ever retired from office with a purer record than Governor Fleming. In every act of his life, both public and private, he has been governed by ight, reason, and justice, and his bitterest political opponent could never accuse him of being influenced by other than the purest motives. As a lawyer Governor Fleming stands at the head of his profession, and while, during his occupancy of the gubernatorial chair, his clientage naturally drived from him, he has, since his resumption of practice, re-established himself more firmly than ever with the people.
He was married on May 23d, 1871, to Miss Floride Lydia Pearson. Their children are Francis P., Jr., his partner in the law practice, Charles Seton, and Elizabeth L.