Missouri Digital Heritage :: Collections :: Thomas Reynolds, 1840-1844

Missouri State Archives
Thomas Reynolds, 1840-1844

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Bond signed by Reynolds


Thomas Reynolds was born in Bracken County, Kentucky to Nathaniel and Catherine Vernon Reynolds on March 12, 1796. After receiving his basic education and training in the law, he moved to Illinois where he was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1817. Reynolds served as the Clerk of the Illinois House of Representatives (1818-1822), Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois (1822-1825), and as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives (1826-1828). Reynolds married Eliza Ann Young on September 22, 1823 in Fayette County, Kentucky. In 1829, the couple moved to Fayette, Missouri where he was elected as representative to the state legislature from Howard County in 1832. Reynolds was immediately chosen as Speaker of the House. He next served as circuit judge of the Second Judicial District encompassing Adair, Knox, and Lewis counties in 1837. Reynolds was elected as the seventh governor of Missouri in 1840, having defeated John B. Clark. As governor, Reynolds carried out a vision of limited government. He believed that each state had the right to settle the question of slavery within its borders and advocated life imprisonment for those aiding escaped slaves. On October 16, 1843, Governor Reynolds issued the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation for Missouri, setting aside the fourth Thursday in November. During his tenure, the University of Missouri enrolled its first class, the debtor imprisonment law was repealed, and voting requirements were improved. On the morning of February 9, 1844, the Governor requested a prayer at the breakfast table, retired to his office and committed suicide. The sealed message left on his writing desk cited slanders and abuse received from his political opponents. He is interred in Woodlawn Cemetery, Jefferson City, Missouri.

The Collection

The Records (1840-1844) of Governor Thomas Reynolds (1796-1844) include correspondence, petitions, proclamations, resolutions, and state bonds. Subjects include the attempted assassination of former Governor Lilburn Williams Boggs, the Mormon War, the Iowa Border War, Missouri politics, state lines and borders, term limitations, and slavery. Also includes a detailed letter from President Martin Van Buren regarding the change of administrations; letters from Daniel Webster enclosing presidential proclamations; and letters from Secretary of the Treasury Walter Forward.

Rights and Reproductions

Copyright is in the public domain. Preferred citation: [Item description], [date]; Thomas Reynolds, 1840-1844; Office of Governor, Record Group 3.7; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City.

How to Use This Collection:

The official title lists dates of service from inauguration to end of term. Records (1840-1844) refer to the date range of materials included within the collection. All references to places are within the state of Missouri unless indicated, and county is specified when known. The spelling of proper names varies greatly. When correct spelling could not be determined the original spelling was retained. Officeholders are Missouri officials unless noted (U. S. Senator, U. S. Secretary of State). State Representatives are referred to as Representative. U. S. Representatives are noted with the title Congressman. Scanned images shown are the best available.

Related Sources:

The collection finding aid provides detailed descriptions of additional resources pertaining to Reynolds at the Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; the State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia; Ellis Library at the University of Missouri, Columbia; and Special Collections and Archives, Merrill Library, Utah State University, Logan.

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