John Burroughs (governor)

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John Burroughs
Burroughs as a student at Texas Tech
18th Governor of New Mexico
In office
January 1, 1959 – January 1, 1961
Lieutenant Ed V. Mead
Preceded by Edwin L. Mechem
Succeeded by Edwin L. Mechem
Personal details
Born (1907-04-07)April 7, 1907
Robert Lee, Texas
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jean Mitchell
Residence Portales
Profession Businessman

John Burroughs (April 7, 1907 – May 21, 1978) was a New Mexican businessman and the 18th Governor of New Mexico. Burroughs, a Democratic served only one-term and is remembered for honest government and introduction of the concept of a state Personnel Act to improve the quality of state workers and limit somewhat the effect of political patronage.[1]

Burroughs attended Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) where he played on the football team and was a member of the Agg Club, Tech Chamber of Commerce, stock judging team, and student council.[2][3][4] He graduated in 1929 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Husbandry,[2][5] and later took some graduate courses at Colorado State University. He obtained his teaching certificate and, after several years of teaching agriculture in the New Mexico cities of Los Lunas and Clovis,[5] went to work for an oil company located in the latter.[5] In 1942 he entered the food processing industry.[5] Eventually, he founded the "Cotton Oil Mill and Peanut Mill Company", which had branches in San Antonio, Texas, and Portales, New Mexico. His Texas plant made peanut butter.

A first time representative in the New Mexico legislature from Portales in 1957, Burroughs was picked as a gubernatorial candidate for his friendly manner, photogenicity, and honest image. Burroughs beat sitting Governor Mechem by less than one percent of the vote (103,481 to 101,567).[6]

As governor Burroughs stressed financial responsibility and pressed state officials to recover funds due and owing to the state. He created the New Mexico Department of Development incorporating the Tourist Bureau, the Economic Development Commission and the New Mexico Magazine under one authority.[5] He was not re-elected. The next year he made a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor, but was stymied early in the process when his bid was quashed by the powerful Senator Clint Anderson.[7] He ran again for governor in 1966, receiving the Democratic pre-primary convention endorsement, but was soundly defeated in the Democratic primary.[8] Burroughs retired from politics, but still served on the New Mexico Finance Board under governors Bruce King and Jerry Apodaca.[5]


  1. The New Mexico legislature did not pass the Personnel Act until January 1961 a month after Burroughs had left office. Garcia, F. Chris et al. (eds.) (2006) Governing New Mexico University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM, p. 101, ISBN 0-8263-4128-4
  2. 2.0 2.1 La Ventana (JPG). 1929. p. 146. Retrieved 2008-08-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. La Ventana (JPG). 1929. p. 212. Retrieved 2008-08-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. La Ventana (JPG). 1929. p. 284. Retrieved 2008-08-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Staff (22 May 1978) "Ex-Gov. Burroughs dies; funeral services pending" The New Mexican p. 1
  6. Irion, Frederick C. (March 1959) "The 1958 Election in New Mexico" The Western Political Quarterly 12(1)(pt.2): pp. 322-327, p. 325
  7. Harrison, Will (1962) "Inside the Capital" Albuquerque Tribune 12 January 1962, p. D-9
  8. Holmes, Jack E. (1967) Politics in New Mexico University of New Mexico Press , Albuquerque, NM, pp. 258-259, OCLC 1014145


  • Sobel, Robert and Raimo. John (1978) "Burroughs, John (1907-)" Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States 1789-1978 (Four vols.) Meckler Publishing, Westport, CT, ISBN 0-930466-00-4

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Edwin L. Mechem
Governor of New Mexico
Succeeded by
Edwin L. Mechem