CRITTENDEN, John Jordan (1786-1863)

CRITTENDEN, JOHN JORDAN, a Senator and a Representative from Kentucky; born near Versailles, Woodford County, Ky., September 10, 1786; completed preparatory studies; attended Pisgah Academy, Woodford County, Ky., Washington College (now Washington and Lee University), Lexington, Va., and graduated from William and Mary College, Williamsburg, Va., in 1806; studied law; admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Woodford County, Ky., in 1807; attorney general of Illinois Territory 1809-1810; served in the War of 1812 as aide to the Governor; resumed the practice of law in Russellville, Ky.; member, State house of representatives 1811-1817, and served as speaker the last term; elected as a Democratic Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1817, to March 3, 1819, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on Judiciary (Fifteenth Congress); moved to Frankfort, Ky., in 1819; member, State house of representatives 1825, 1829-1832; appointed and was confirmed as United States district attorney in 1827, but was removed by President Andrew Jackson in 1829; nominated in 1828 by President John Quincy Adams as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, but was not confirmed by the Senate; again elected to the United States Senate as a Whig and served from March 4, 1835, to March 3, 1841; appointed Attorney General of the United States by President William Henry Harrison March to September 1841; appointed and subsequently elected as a Whig to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Henry Clay and served from March 31, 1842, to June 12, 1848, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on Military Affairs (Twenty-seventh and Twenty-eighth Congresses); Governor of Kentucky 1848-1850, when he resigned; again appointed Attorney General by President Millard Fillmore 1850-1853; again elected to the United States Senate as a Whig (later American/Know-Nothing) and served from March 4, 1855, to March 3, 1861; chair, Committee on Revolutionary Claims (Thirty-sixth Congress); chair Committee on Foreign Affairs (Thirty-seventh Congress); elected as a Unionist to the Thirty-seventh Congress (March 4, 1861-March 3, 1863); was a candidate for reelection at the time of his death; died in Frankfort, Ky., July 26, 1863; interment in State Cemetery, Frankfort, Ky.

American Philosophical Society
Philadelphia, PA
Papers: In Isaac Hays papers, ca. 1820s-1879.

Boston Public Library
Boston, MA
Papers: 2 letters.

Duke University
Special Collections Library
Durham, NC
Papers: 1786-1932. 1,055 items and 3 volumes. Political and family correspondence, scrapbooks, letterbook, speeches, and a portrait. Much of the correspondence published in Life of John J. Crittenden by his daughter, Mary Ann Butler (Crittenden) Coleman. Finding aid.

Filson Club Historical Society
Louisville, KY
Papers: 1818-1862. Ca. 45 items. Personal, business, and congressional papers and correspondence; photographs; portrait; and a bust.
Additional Papers: Letters and references in the Orlando Brown papers; Charles Lanman collection; J.M. Clayton papers; Henry Clay papers; Joyes family papers; Johnston family papers; Jones family papers, 1844-1969; and other collections. Finding aid.

Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives
Frankfort, KY
Papers: 1848-1850. 3.5 cubic feet. Gubernatorial papers including petitions, appointments, letterbook, correspondence, enrolled bills, minute book, journal and index. Finding aid.

Kentucky Historical Society
Frankfort, KY
Papers: Miscellaneous items (1816-1863) in the John Jordan Crittenden papers; the Harry I. Todd papers; and the Orlando Brown papers. Personal, business, and congressional papers and correspondence. Also unpublished family history, "The Kentucky Crittendens,'' by Francis Hudson Oxx, available on microfilm. Finding aid.

Knox College
Seymour Library
Galesburg, IL
Papers: 1 letter (May 8, 1843) in Seymour autograph collection, 1750-1945.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Papers: 1782-1888. 6 feet; ca. 2,600 items. Correspondence, legal papers, speeches, state papers, and photographs. Mainly correspondence covering career as senator, U.S. attorney general, and governor of Kentucky. Extensive material on the United States Civil War and the compromise efforts which preceded it, tariff and banking matters, Texas, Mexico, the southern Whigs, relations with Henry Clay, and Kentucky law and politics. Available on 14 microfilm reels. Finding aid.
Additional Papers: In John Payne papers, 1780-1905.

New-York Historical Society
New York, NY
Papers: 1817-1863. 16 letters.

North Carolina Division of Archives and History
Raleigh, NC
Papers: 1827-1863. 29 items. Letters to Crittenden from or relating to North Carolinians. Microfilm of material in the Library of Congress.

Pierpont Morgan Library
New York, NY
Papers: 1840-1851. 4 items.

University of Kentucky Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
Lexington, KY
Papers: 1814-1861. 52 items.

University of Rochester
Rush Rhees Library
Rochester, NY
Papers: 4 letters by and 2 to Crittenden (1841-1863) in various collections. Finding aid.

University of Virginia
Alderman Library
Charlottesville, VA
Papers: Correspondence in various collections. Finding aid.

Virginia Historical Society
Richmond, VA
Papers: Miscellaneous items. Finding aid.

Western Kentucky University Library
Special Collections
Bowling Green, KY
Papers: 1825-1853. 10 items. Correspondence and business papers. Also a letter from Henry Clay (ca. 1845) regarding a portrait of Crittenden by G.P.A. Healy, which now hangs in the library, in the Eugenia Young family papers.

Yale University Libraries
Manuscripts and Archives
New Haven, CT
Papers: 14 microfilm reels of original papers (1782-1863) at the Library of Congress.

  • Coleman, Mrs. Chapman (Ann Mary), ed. The Life of John J. Crittenden, with Selections from His Correspondence and Speeches. 2 vols. 1871. Reprint. New York: Da Capo Press, 1970.
  • Kelly, Jack. "John J. Crittenden and the Constitutional Union Party.''Filson Club History Quarterly 48 (July 1974): 265-76.
  • Kirwan, Albert D. John J. Crittenden: The Struggle for the Union. 1962. Reprint. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1974.
  • Ledbetter, Patsy S. "John J. Crittenden and the Compromise Debacle.'' Filson Club History Quarterly 51 (April 1977): 125-42.
  • Morton, Jennie C. "Governor John J. Crittenden.'' Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society 3 (May 1905): 11-20; (September 1905): 14-19.
  • Ragan, Allen E. "John J. Crittenden, 1787-1863.'' Filson Club History Quarterly 18 (January 1944): 3-28.
  • Steiner, Bernard C. "John J. Crittenden's Maryland Correspondents.'' Maryland Historical Magazine 10 (June 1915): 160-76.
  • Zacharias, Donald W. "John J. Crittenden Crusades for the Union and Neutrality in Kentucky.'' Filson Club History Quarterly 38 (July 1964): 193-205.