John W. Ellis served as governor of North Carolina from 1859-1861. Born and raised in Salisbury in Rowan County, Ellis studied and practiced law and was elected to serve in the N.C. General Assembly. From 1848 until 1858, he served as a state superior court judge. He won election to the governorship in 1958 by a large majority and easily won re-election in 1860. As governor of North Carolina when the Civil War broke out, Ellis was a strong supporter of secession and was famous for denying to Pres. Abraham Lincoln troops from North Carolina to put down the rebellion of sister southern states. North Carolina seceded shortly after Ellis's denial of troops. Ellis died in office and was succeeded by Henry T. Clark, the Speaker of the North Carolina Senate.