this article is about the u.s. politician. for his grandson, the soldier killed at the battle of the little bighorn, see john j. crittenden iii.
member of the u.s. house of representatives from kentucky's 8th district
in office march 4, 1861 – march 3, 1863
united states senator from kentucky
in office march 4, 1855 – march 3, 1861
in office march 31, 1842 – june 12, 1848
in office march 4, 1835 – march 3, 1841
in office march 4, 1817 – march 3, 1819
15th and 22nd united states attorney general
in office july 22, 1850 – march 4, 1853
in office march 5, 1841 – september 12, 1841
william henry harrison john tyler
17th governor of kentucky
in office september 6, 1848 – july 31, 1850
22nd secretary of state of kentucky
in office april 1834 – february 4, 1835
john jordan crittenden
(1787-09-10)september 10, 1787 versailles, kentucky, u.s.
july 26, 1863(1863-07-26) (aged 75) frankfort, kentucky, u.s.
democratic-republican (before 1825) national republican (1825–1830) whig (1830–1856) american (1856–1859) constitutional union (1859–1861) unionist (1861–1863)
sarah lee maria knox todd elizabeth moss
washington and lee university college of william and mary (ba)
war of 1812
crittenden as he appears at the national portrait gallery in washington, d.c.
john jordan crittenden (september 10, 1787 – july 26, 1863) was an american politician from the u.s. state of kentucky. he represented the state in both the u.s. house of representatives and the u.s. senate and twice served as united states attorney general in the administrations of william henry harrison, john tyler, and millard fillmore. he was also the 17thgovernor of kentucky and served in the state legislature. although frequently mentioned as a potential candidate for the u.s. presidency, he never consented to run for the office.
during his early political career, crittenden served in the kentucky house of representatives and was chosen as speaker on several occasions. with the advent of the second party system, he allied with the national republican (later whig) party and was a fervent supporter of henry clay and opponent of democratsandrew jackson and martin van buren.
lame duck president john quincy adams nominated crittenden to the u.s. supreme court on december 17, 1828, but senators who supported president-elect jackson voted to postpone confirmation until jackson could nominate his own man. after his brief service as kentucky secretary of state, the state legislature elected crittenden to the second of his four non-consecutive stints in the u.s. senate. upon his election as president, william henry harrison appointed crittenden as attorney general, but five months after harrison's death, political differences prompted him to resign rather than continue his service under harrison's successor, john tyler.
he was returned to the senate in 1842, serving until 1848, when he resigned to run for governor, hoping his election would help zachary taylor win kentucky's vote in the 1848 presidential election. taylor was elected, but crittenden refused a post in his cabinet, fearing he would be charged with making a "corrupt bargain", as clay had been in 1825. following taylor's death in 1850, crittenden resigned the governorship and accepted millard fillmore's appointment as attorney general.
as the whig party crumbled in the mid-1850s, crittenden joined the know nothing (or american) party. after the expiration of his term as attorney general, he was again elected to the u.s. senate, where he urged compromise on the issue of slavery to prevent the breakup of the united states. as bitter partisanship increased the threat of secession, crittenden sought out moderates from all parties and formed the constitutional union party, though he refused the party's nomination for president in the 1860 election. in december 1860, he authored the crittenden compromise, a series of resolutions and constitutional amendments he hoped would avert the civil war, but congress would not approve them.
one of crittenden's sons, george b. crittenden, became a general in the confederate army. another son, thomas leonidas crittenden, became a general in the union army. the elder crittenden was elected to the united states house of representatives in 1861, and supported the union. however, he criticized many of the policies of president abraham lincoln and the u.s. congress, including the emancipation proclamation and the admission of west virginia to the union. he continued to work for reconciliation of the states throughout his time in office. he declared his candidacy for re-election to the house in 1863, but died before the election took place.
Lame duck president John Quincy Adams nominated Crittenden to the U.S. Supreme Court on December 17, 1828, but senators who supported president-elect Jackson voted to postpone confirmation until Jackson could nominate his own man. After his brief service as Kentucky secretary of state, the state legislature elected Crittenden to the second of his four non-consecutive stints in the U.S. Senate. Upon his election as president, William Henry Harrison appointed Crittenden as Attorney General, but five months after Harrison's death, political differences prompted him to resign rather than continue his service under Harrison's successor, John Tyler.
He was returned to the Senate in 1842, serving until 1848, when he resigned to run for governor, hoping his election would help Zachary Taylor win Kentucky's vote in the 1848 presidential election. Taylor was elected, but Crittenden refused a post in his cabinet, fearing he would be charged with making a "corrupt bargain", as Clay had been in 1825. Following Taylor's death in 1850, Crittenden resigned the governorship and accepted Millard Fillmore's appointment as attorney general.
As the Whig Party crumbled in the mid-1850s, Crittenden joined the Know Nothing (or American) Party. After the expiration of his term as attorney general, he was again elected to the U.S. Senate, where he urged compromise on the issue of slavery to prevent the breakup of the United States. As bitter partisanship increased the threat of secession, Crittenden sought out moderates from all parties and formed the Constitutional Union Party, though he refused the party's nomination for president in the 1860 election. In December 1860, he authored the Crittenden Compromise, a series of resolutions and constitutional amendments he hoped would avert the Civil War, but Congress would not approve them.