John J. Crittenden

  • john crittenden
    john jordan crittenden - brady 1855.jpg
    member of the u.s. house of representatives
    from kentucky's 8th district
    in office
    march 4, 1861 – march 3, 1863
    preceded bywilliam simms
    succeeded bywilliam randall
    united states senator
    from kentucky
    in office
    march 4, 1855 – march 3, 1861
    preceded byarchibald dixon
    succeeded byjohn breckinridge
    in office
    march 31, 1842 – june 12, 1848
    preceded byhenry clay
    succeeded bythomas metcalfe
    in office
    march 4, 1835 – march 3, 1841
    preceded bygeorge bibb
    succeeded byjames morehead
    in office
    march 4, 1817 – march 3, 1819
    preceded bymartin hardin
    succeeded byrichard johnson
    15th and 22nd
    united states attorney general
    in office
    july 22, 1850 – march 4, 1853
    presidentmillard fillmore
    preceded byreverdy johnson
    succeeded bycaleb cushing
    in office
    march 5, 1841 – september 12, 1841
    presidentwilliam henry harrison
    john tyler
    preceded byhenry gilpin
    succeeded byhugh legaré
    17th governor of kentucky
    in office
    september 6, 1848 – july 31, 1850
    lieutenantjohn helm
    preceded bywilliam owsley
    succeeded byjohn helm
    22nd secretary of state of kentucky
    in office
    april 1834 – february 4, 1835
    governorjames morehead
    preceded by lewis sanders
    succeeded bywilliam owsley
    personal details
    born
    john jordan crittenden

    (1787-09-10)september 10, 1787
    versailles, kentucky, u.s.
    diedjuly 26, 1863(1863-07-26) (aged 75)
    frankfort, kentucky, u.s.
    political partydemocratic-republican (before 1825)
    national republican (1825–1830)
    whig (1830–1856)
    american (1856–1859)
    constitutional union (1859–1861)
    unionist (1861–1863)
    spouse(s)sarah lee
    maria knox todd
    elizabeth moss
    educationwashington and lee university
    college of william and mary (ba)
    signature
    military service
    allegiance united states
    branch/servicekentucky militia
    battles/warswar 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 17th governor 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 democrats andrew 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.

  • early and family life
  • career
  • early political career
  • association with the national republicans
  • association with the whigs
  • civil war
  • legacy and honors
  • notes
  • references
  • further reading
  • external links

John Crittenden
John Jordan Crittenden - Brady 1855.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 8th district
In office
March 4, 1861 – March 3, 1863
Preceded byWilliam Simms
Succeeded byWilliam Randall
United States Senator
from Kentucky
In office
March 4, 1855 – March 3, 1861
Preceded byArchibald Dixon
Succeeded byJohn Breckinridge
In office
March 31, 1842 – June 12, 1848
Preceded byHenry Clay
Succeeded byThomas Metcalfe
In office
March 4, 1835 – March 3, 1841
Preceded byGeorge Bibb
Succeeded byJames Morehead
In office
March 4, 1817 – March 3, 1819
Preceded byMartin Hardin
Succeeded byRichard Johnson
15th and 22nd
United States Attorney General
In office
July 22, 1850 – March 4, 1853
PresidentMillard Fillmore
Preceded byReverdy Johnson
Succeeded byCaleb Cushing
In office
March 5, 1841 – September 12, 1841
PresidentWilliam Henry Harrison
John Tyler
Preceded byHenry Gilpin
Succeeded byHugh Legaré
17th Governor of Kentucky
In office
September 6, 1848 – July 31, 1850
LieutenantJohn Helm
Preceded byWilliam Owsley
Succeeded byJohn Helm
22nd Secretary of State of Kentucky
In office
April 1834 – February 4, 1835
GovernorJames Morehead
Preceded by Lewis Sanders
Succeeded byWilliam Owsley
Personal details
Born
John Jordan Crittenden

(1787-09-10)September 10, 1787
Versailles, Kentucky, U.S.
DiedJuly 26, 1863(1863-07-26) (aged 75)
Frankfort, Kentucky, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic-Republican (Before 1825)
National Republican (1825–1830)
Whig (1830–1856)
American (1856–1859)
Constitutional Union (1859–1861)
Unionist (1861–1863)
Spouse(s)Sarah Lee
Maria Knox Todd
Elizabeth Moss
EducationWashington and Lee University
College of William and Mary (BA)
Signature
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceKentucky Militia
Battles/warsWar 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 17th governor 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 Democrats Andrew 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.