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Thomas Theodore Crittenden

Thomas Theodore Crittenden
24th Governor of Missouri
In office
10 January 1881 – 12 January 1885
Lieutenant Robert Alexander Campbell
Preceded by John S. Phelps
Succeeded by John S. Marmaduke
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 7th district
In office
4 March 1877 – 4 March 1879
Preceded by John Finis Philips
Succeeded by Alfred Morrison Lay
In office
4 March 1873 – 4 March 1875
Preceded by Isaac Parker
Succeeded by John Finis Philips
12th Attorney General of Missouri
In office
Governor Willard Preble Hall
Preceded by Aikman Welch
Succeeded by Robert Franklin Wingate
Personal details
Born 1 January 1832
Shelbyville, Kentucky,
United States
Died 29 May 1909(1909-05-29) (aged 77)
Kansas City, Missouri,
United States
Resting place Forest Hill Cemetery
Kansas City, Missouri
Political party Democratic
Relations John J. Crittenden (uncle)
Children Thomas T. Crittenden, Jr.
Occupation Politician
Profession Attorney
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1862–1864
Rank Colonel
Unit Seventh Missouri State Militia Cavalry Regiment
Battles/wars American Civil War

Thomas Theodore Crittenden (January 1, 1832 – May 29, 1909) was a United States colonel during the American Civil War, and a Democratic politician who served as the 24th Governor of Missouri from 1881 to 1885.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Marriage and family 2
  • Career 3
  • Legacy 4
  • Popular media 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life and education

Crittenden was born in 1832 in Shelbyville, Kentucky to Henry and Anna Maria Crittenden. He was born into a political family and was the nephew of Kentucky Governor John J. Crittenden. He was educated at Centre College and also studied law with his uncle.[1]

Marriage and family

In 1856, Crittenden married Caroline Wheeler "Carrie" Jackson (August 1, 1839 - January 27, 1917) and had several children. His son Thomas T. Crittenden, Jr. was later a mayor of Kansas City, and his son Henry Huston Crittenden (1859-1943) was compiler of The Crittenden Memoirs (1936).


Shortly following Crittenden's marriage, the family moved to Lexington, Missouri, where he started a law practice. During the American Civil War Crittenden was appointed a Colonel in the 7th Missouri State Militia Cavalry, fighting on the Union side. Governor Willard Preble Hall appointed Crittenden to the post of Missouri Attorney General in 1864.[1]

Following his term, Crittenden moved his law practice to Warrensburg, Missouri in partnership with Francis Cockrell. Crittenden was elected to the United States House of Representatives for the 7th Congressional District in 1872 and again in 1876.[1] In 1880, he helped to found the Missouri Bar Association.[2]

Crittenden was elected Governor of Missouri in the 1880 election.[3] As governor, Crittenden wanted to suppress the robberies and violence committed by the James Gang. He authorized a reward of $5,000 (which was paid for by railroad corporations) for the capture of Jesse James and also for his brother Frank, dead or alive, which resulted in Robert Ford killing Jesse in 1882. Following Ford's conviction for the murder, Crittenden pardoned him. On October 5, 1882, Frank James surrendered in Jefferson City.[4]

During his term, Crittenden's administration also collected payment on loans to the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, reduced state debt, established the Missouri State Board of Health and the Missouri State Bureau of Mines and Mine inspection, increased appropriations for education, and started a training school for nurses in St. Louis.[5]

Following his gubernatorial term, Crittenden moved to Kansas City, Missouri and practiced law. From 1893 to 1897, he was the United States consul general in Mexico City, appointed by President Grover Cleveland. Crittenden died in 1909 in Kansas City, Missouri. He was buried there at the Forest Hill Cemetery.[2]


  • Crittenden achieved some notoriety for offering a reward on a private citizen, with implications that he ordered his death.

Popular media

In the 2007 movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Crittenden is portrayed by James Carville.


  1. ^ a b c "Thomas Theodore Crittenden, 1881-1885". Missouri State Archives. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "C0087 Crittenden, Thomas Theodore (1832-1909), Papers, 1880-1950" (PDF). The State Historical Society of Missouri. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Thomas Theodore Crittenden". Historic Missourians. The State Historical Society of Missouri. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  5. ^ "Office of the Governor Thomas Theodore Crittenden, 1881-1885" (PDF). Missouri State Archives. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Aikman Welch
Missouri State Attorney General
Succeeded by
Robert Franklin Wingate
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Isaac Parker
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
John F. Philips
Preceded by
John F. Philips
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Alfred M. Lay
Political offices
Preceded by
John Smith Phelps
Governor of Missouri
Succeeded by
John Sappington Marmaduke
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