Thomas Theodore Crittenden

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.

Thomas Theodore Crittenden
Thomas Theodore Crittenden - Brady-Handy.jpg
24th Governor of Missouri
In office
January 10, 1881 – January 12, 1885
LieutenantRobert Alexander Campbell
Preceded byJohn S. Phelps
Succeeded byJohn S. Marmaduke
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 7th district
In office
March 4, 1877 – March 3, 1879
Preceded byJohn Finis Philips
Succeeded byAlfred Morrison Lay
In office
March 4, 1873 – March 3, 1875
Preceded byIsaac Parker
Succeeded byJohn Finis Philips
12th Attorney General of Missouri
In office
GovernorWillard Preble Hall
Preceded byAikman Welch
Succeeded byRobert Franklin Wingate
Personal details
BornJanuary 1, 1832
Shelbyville, Kentucky, U.S.
DiedMay 29, 1909(1909-05-29) (aged 77)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Resting placeForest Hill Calvary Cemetery
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
RelationsWilliam Logan Crittenden (brother)
John J. Crittenden (uncle)
ChildrenThomas T. Crittenden, Jr.
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Years of service1862–1864
UnitSeventh Missouri State Militia Cavalry Regiment
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Early life and educationEdit

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 familyEdit

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, 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 Calvary Cemetery in Kansas City.[2]

Popular mediaEdit

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 December 11, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "C0087 Crittenden, Thomas Theodore (1832–1909), Papers, 1880–1950" (PDF). The State Historical Society of Missouri. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 27, 2015. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  3. ^ "Our Campaigns - MO Governor Race - Nov 02, 1880".
  4. ^ "Thomas Theodore Crittenden". Historic Missourians. The State Historical Society of Missouri. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  5. ^ "Office of the Governor Thomas Theodore Crittenden, 1881–1885" (PDF). Missouri State Archives. Retrieved December 11, 2013.

External linksEdit

United States Congress. "CRITTENDEN, Thomas Theodore (id: C000913)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Missouri
Succeeded by
Legal offices
Preceded by Missouri State Attorney General
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 7th congressional district

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

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Missouri
Succeeded by