Thomas M. Bowen

Thomas Mead Bowen (October 26, 1835 – December 30, 1906) was a state legislator in Iowa and Colorado, a Union Army officer during the American Civil War, a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, briefly the Governor of Idaho Territory, an elected judge in Colorado and a United States Senator from Colorado.

Thomas M. Bowen
United States Senator
from Colorado
In office
March 4, 1883 – March 4, 1889
Preceded byHorace Austin Warner Tabor
Succeeded byEdward Oliver Wolcott
4th Governor of Idaho Territory
In office
1871 – 1871 (one week)
Preceded byDavid W. Ballard
Succeeded byThomas W. Bennett
Personal details
BornOctober 26, 1835
Burlington, Michigan Territory (now Iowa)
DiedDecember 30, 1906(1906-12-30) (aged 71)
Pueblo, Colorado
Resting placeRoselawn Cemetery in Pueblo, Colorado
Political partyRepublican
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Union Army
Years of service1861–1865
RankUnion Army colonel rank insignia.png Colonel
Union Army brigadier general rank insignia.svg Brevet Brigadier General
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War


Bowen was born near the present site of Burlington, Iowa, in what was then Michigan Territory, on October 26, 1835.[1] He attended the public schools and the academy at Mount Pleasant, Iowa.[1] He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1853 and began practicing law.[1] He was married to Margaretta T. Bowen.[2]


Bowen moved to Wayne County, Iowa, in 1856 and was a member of the Iowa House of Representatives that year.[1] In 1858, he moved to Kansas.[1]

During the American Civil War, Bowen served in the Union Army. On June 11, 1861, he was appointed captain of the 1st Nebraska Infantry Regiment, later redesignated 1st Nebraska Cavalry Regiment.[1] He resigned from the volunteers on February 5, 1862.[1] He rejoined the Union Army on July 11, 1862 as first lieutenant of the 9th Regiment Kansas Volunteer Cavalry and was promoted to captain, July 30, 1862.[1] Bowen was appointed colonel of the 13th Regiment Kansas Volunteer Infantry, September 20, 1862.[1] Bowen was temporary commander of brigades in the Department of the Missouri and the Department of Arkansas from October 1862 to March 21, 1864.[1] He commanded Brigade 1, Division 1, VII Corps (Union Army) in the Department of Arkansas from March 22, 1865 to June 24, 1865.[1] Bowen was appointed a brevet brigadier general, to rank from March 13, 1865.[1] He was discharged from the volunteers on June 28, 1865.[1]

After the war, Bowen found himself in Arkansas and decided to stay there. He was a member and president of the constitutional convention of Arkansas in 1866;[3] he was also a Reconstruction era justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court from 1867 to 1871.[1][4]

Bowen, who made a large fortune in business, was appointed governor of Idaho Territory by U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant on April 19, 1871, but resigned on September 27, 1871 and returned to Arkansas.[1][5] He moved to Colorado Territory in 1873 and resumed the practice of law.[1]

Bowen was elected judge of the Fourth Judicial District Court in Colorado, a position which he held from 1876 until 1880, when he suddenly resigned.[1] He had given a lenient sentence to John J. Hoover, a murderer in Fairplay in Park County, who was thereafter lynched by an irate mob on April 28, 1880, while awaiting transfer to the Colorado State Penitentiary.[6]

Bowen was a member of the Colorado House of Representatives in 1882[1] and resigned soon thereafter upon his election as a Republican to the United States Senate. He served in that body from March 4, 1883, to March 3, 1889.[1] While in the Senate, he was chairman of the Committee on Mining (in the Forty-eighth Congress), Committee on Enrolled Bills (Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Congresses).


Bowen engaged in mining in Colorado and resided in Pueblo, where he died on December 30, 1906 at the age of seventy-one.[1][4] He is interred at Roselawn Cemetery in Pueblo.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1. p. 138.
  2. ^ "Thomas M. Bowen" (PDF). American National Biography. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  3. ^ "Thomas M. Bowen". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Thomas M. Bowen". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  5. ^ Another source, Limbaugh, Ronald H. (1982). Rocky Mountain Carpetbaggers: Idaho's Territorial Governors, 1863–1890. Moscow, Idaho: University Press of Idaho. ISBN 0-89301-082-0. page 92 states that Bowen did not like the looks of the landscape, so he decided to stay only a few weeks until July 15, 1861; his successor did not take office until December 1871, page 103.
  6. ^ Laura King Van Dusen, "Crime and Punishment in 1880s Fairplay: People Protest Light Sentencing, Deliver Frontier Justice", Historic Tales from Park County: Parked in the Past (Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press, 2013), ISBN 978-1-62619-161-7, pp. 89-96.

External linksEdit

U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. senator (Class 2) from Colorado
Served alongside: Nathaniel P. Hill, Henry M. Teller
Succeeded by