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Francis Thomas

Gov. Francis Thomas

  • January 3, 1842 - January 6, 1845
  • Democratic; Unionist; Republican
  • February 3, 1799
  • January 22, 1876
  • Maryland
  • St. John's College
  • Married Sally Campbell McDowell
  • Representative, Ambassador


FRANCIS THOMAS was born in Frederick County, Maryland on February 3, 1799. His education was attained at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1820, and then established his legal career in Frederick, Maryland. Thomas entered politics in 1822, serving as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, a position he held again in 1827 and 1829. He also served as speaker in 1829, and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1831 to 1841. Thomas was elected governor of Maryland by a popular vote on October 6, 1841 and was sworn into office on January 3, 1842. During his tenure, the first telegraph line was initiated between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.; the repudiation of the state debt was opposed; a regular packet ship service was instituted between Baltimore and Liverpool, England; and the construction on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to Cumberland, Maryland was finalized. After completing his term, Thomas left office on January 6, 1845. He later served as a member of the 1850 Maryland Constitutional Convention, and was elected as a Unionist to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served from 1861 to 1869. He also served as a delegate to the 1866 Loyalist Convention, was the collector of Internal Revenue from 1870 to 1872, and was the U.S. Minister to Peru from 1872 to 1875. On January 22, 1876, Thomas was killed by a train while walking on railroad tracks near Frankville, Maryland. Governor Francis Thomas was buried in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Cemetery in Petersville, Frederick County.


Eisenberg, Gerson G. Marylanders Who Served the Nation. Annapolis, MD: Maryland State Archives, 1992.

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

White, Frank F., Jr. The Governors of Maryland, 1777-1972. Annapolis, MD: Hall of Records Commission, 1970.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Maryland State Archives

Recent Maryland Governors