Charles S. Thomas

Charles Spalding Thomas (December 6, 1849 – June 24, 1934) was a United States Senator from Colorado. Born in Darien, Georgia, he attended private schools in Georgia and Connecticut, and served briefly in the Confederate Army.

Charles Thomas
Charles Spalding Thomas.jpg
United States Senator
from Colorado
In office
January 15, 1913 – March 3, 1921
Preceded byCharles J. Hughes Jr.
Succeeded bySamuel D. Nicholson
11th Governor of Colorado
In office
January 10, 1899 – January 8, 1901
LieutenantFrancis Patrick Carney
Preceded byAlva Adams
Succeeded byJames B. Orman
Personal details
Charles Spalding Thomas

(1849-12-06)December 6, 1849
Darien, Georgia, U.S.
DiedJune 24, 1934(1934-06-24) (aged 84)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance Confederate States
Branch/serviceConfederate States Army
Unit Georgia State Militia[1]
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War


Thomas graduated from the law department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1871, and was admitted to the bar the same year. He moved to Colorado and began to practice in Denver, where he was a city attorney in 1875 and 1876. He was a member of the Democratic National Committee from 1884 to 1896, and was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States House of Representatives in 1884, to the Senate in 1888 and 1895, and to the governorship in 1894.

Thomas served as the 11th Governor of Colorado from 1899 to 1901. In 1897, Colorado had abolished the death penalty, but Thomas considered lynching an understandable substitute. In 1900, when a lynch mob murdered Calvin Kimblern, Thomas called it "a natural outburst of indignation of the people of Pueblo" and blamed the lack of a death penalty for the murder.[2] Six months later, a mob surrounded Denver's jail seeking to lynch 15-year-old Preston Porter. Thomas was informed but declined to intervene. "As a matter of fact, hanging is too good for that man," he told reporters. The spirit of the lynch law is with the people, and will remain in them just as long as the Anglo-Saxon exists."[3] After Porter was burned alive by a mob, when Thomas was asked to comment on the lynching, he said, "My opinion is that there is one less negro in the world."[4] Colorado reinstated the death penalty soon thereafter.[2]

In 1913, Thomas was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1912 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Charles J. Hughes, Jr.; in 1914, he was reelected to a full term. Thomas served from January 15, 1913, to March 3, 1921, and was the last Confederate veteran to serve in the Senate.[5] In 1920, he was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection on the Nationalist ticket, receiving only 3% of the vote.[6]

In the Sixty-third and Sixty-fourth Congresses, Thomas was chairman of the Committee on Woman Suffrage, and a member of the Committee on Coast Defenses (Sixty-fifth Congress) and the Committee on Pacific Railroads (Sixty-sixth Congress). He resumed the practice of law in Denver, where he died on June 24, 1934; his remains were cremated and his ashes were scattered in the mountains.


  1. ^ Ketelsen, Terry. "Biography of Charles Spalding Thomas". Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b Radelet, Michael L. "Capital Punishment in Colorado: 1859-1972" (PDF). Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  3. ^ "MOB'S VENGEANCE: Colorado Vigilantes Burn a Negro Murderer". The Kansas City Gazette. 19 November 1900. p. 1. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  4. ^ "Preston Porter, Jr". Colorado Lynching Memorial Project. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  5. ^ "Civil War Veterans in the Senate". United States Senate. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  6. ^ Page, William Tyler. "Statistics of the Congressional and Presidential Elections of November 6, 1934" (PDF). Clerk of the House of Representatives. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-10-16. Retrieved 2006-10-25.


External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Colorado
Succeeded by
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Colorado
Succeeded by
Preceded by Keynote Speaker of the Democratic National Convention
Succeeded by
First Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Colorado
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Colorado
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Colorado
Served alongside: Simon Guggenheim, John F. Shafroth, Lawrence C. Phipps
Succeeded by