THOMPSON, Richard Wigginton (1809-1900)

THOMPSON, RICHARD WIGGINTON, a Representative from Indiana; born near Culpeper Court House, Culpeper County, Va., June 9, 1809; pursued classical studies; moved to Louisville, Ky., in 1831; clerked in a store; moved to Lawrence County, Ind., in 1831; taught school; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1834 and began practice in Bedford, Lawrence County, Ind.; member of the State house of representatives 1834-1836; served in the State senate 1836-1838 and for a short time as president pro tempore; elected as a Whig to the Twenty-seventh Congress (March 4, 1841-March 3, 1843); was not a candidate for renomination in 1842; moved to Terre Haute, Ind., in 1843; city attorney in 1846 and 1847; elected as a Whig to the Thirtieth Congress (March 4, 1847-March 3, 1849); chairman, Committee on Elections (Thirtieth Congress); declined a renomination; commander of Camp Thompson, Ind., and provost marshal 1861-1865; appointed by President Lincoln collector of internal revenue for the seventh district of Indiana and served one term; delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1868 and 1876; judge of the fifth Indiana circuit court 1867-1869; appointed Secretary of the Navy in the Cabinet of President Hayes and served from March 12, 1877, until his resignation December 21, 1880; chairman of the American Committee of the Panama Canal Co. in 1881; director of the Panama Railroad Co. 1881-1888; died in Terre Haute, Ind., February 9, 1900; interment in High Lawn Cemetery.

Indiana University
Lilly Library
Bloomington, IN
Papers: 1837-1899, 375 items.
The Richard Wigginton Thompson collection includes letters and copies of letters written by him relating to his various activities and interests. There is correspondence relating to some of his law cases and personal business matters, the Republican Party in Indiana, the tariff, and the Civil War. There are official letters of Richard Wigginton Thompson as provost marshal of the Terre Haute district, as well as a letter copybook created during his service as Secretary of the Navy under President Hayes. The collection also contains three bound volumes of Richard Thompson's addresses.

Papers: In the Fairbanks Manuscripts, 1819-1939, approximately 150,006 items.
Persons represented include Richard Wigginton Thompson.


Brooklyn Historical Society
Brooklyn, NY
Papers: May 17, 1878. 1 naval appointment.
Finding aid in repository.


Rutherford B. Hayes Library
Fremont, OH
Papers: 1830-1945. 1 box and 5 feet.
In part photocopies from Lincoln National Life Foundation, Fort Wayne, IN. Correspondence while Secretary of the Navy, manuscripts, family papers, legal briefs, and papers relating to Chiriqui Improvement Company. Index to correspondents in library.


Indiana Historical Society
Indianapolis, IN
Papers: 1838-1899, 46 items.
The papers document Richard Wigginton Thompson's law practice, Indiana politics, and Menominee Indian claims. A finding aid for the papers is available in the repository.


Indiana State Library
Indianapolis, IN
Papers: 1818-1900. 2 boxes.
Political correspondence regarding state and national Whig and Republican Party politics, from congressional constituents regarding political appointments and local politics, during the Civil War, while Secretary of the Navy, and regarding a canal across Panama. Also correspondence regarding his legal work and with Harper & Brothers regarding The Papacy and the Civil Power, political speeches, essay on Henry A. Wise, notebook of expenses, family correspondence, and his wife's diary (1838). Described in published guide. Finding aid in repository.


Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Papers: In the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection, ca. 1848-1877, 3 items.
The items include letters from Richard Wigginton Thompson concerning a synopsis of his speech published in the Southerner, discussing regulations for the appointment of cadets to the United States Naval Academy, and regarding the painting of a portrait of Richard Wigginton Thompson as Secretary of the Navy.


Lincoln National Life Foundation
Fort Wayne, IN
Papers: Quantity unknown.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
Springfield, IL
Papers: ca. 1847-1899, 16 items.
The papers include correspondence with Richard Wigginton Thompson discussing political campaigns, unintentional "unkind or offensive" remarks relating to Union Rifles, legal matters, and a letter with an accompanying short paper on a comparison of Washington and Lincoln.


The Morgan Library
Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts
New York, NY
Papers: N.d., 1 item.
A note from Richard Wigginton Thompson recommending to the Attorney-General, James F. Johnson of Indiana as U. S. Marshal.


University of California, Berkeley
The Bancroft Library
Berkeley, CA
Papers: In the Alaska Miscellany, ca. 1878-1889, 3 items.
The papers include a letter from Richard Wigginton Thompson as Secretary of the Navy to H.H. Bancrof, written on February 13, 1879. In the letter, Thompson writes concerning a report on the Aleutian Islands by the U.S. North Pacific Surveying Expedition.


Yale University Library
Manuscripts and Archives
New Haven, CT
Papers: In the Carrington Family Papers, 1749-1929, 3 linear feet.
Persons represented include Richard Wigginton Thompson.

  • Brown, Charles. Abolition and slavery; speech in the House of Representatives, February 3, 1849, in reply to Hon. Richard W. Thompson, of Indiana, on abolition and slavery. N.p., 1849.
  • Neely, Mark E. "Richard W. Thompson: The Persistent Know Nothing." Indiana Magazine of History 72 (June 1976): 95-122.
  • Roll, Charles. Colonel Dick Thompson: The Persistent Whig. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1948.
  • Thompson, R[ichard] W[igginton]. The history of protective tariff laws. Chicago: R. S. Peale and Company, 1888.
  • ------. The interoceanic canal at Panama. Its political aspects. The "Monroe doctrine." Argument before the Committee of Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives. Washington, D.C.: T. McCill & Co., printers, 1881.
  • ------. Speech made during the debate on the bill to supply the deficiency of appropriations for the year ending June 30, 1848, delivered in the House of Representatives of the U.S., March 9, 1848. Washington: Printed by J. & G.S. Gideon, 1848.
  • ------. Speech of Mr. R. W. Thompson, of Indiana, on the reference of the President's annual message. [Washington]: J. & G. S. Gideon, printers [1848].
  • Weninger, Franz X. Reply to Hon. R.W. Thompson, Secretary of the Navy, addressed to the American people. New York: P. O'Shea, 1877.