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John Long Routt

Gov. John Long Routt

  • March 29, 1875 - January 14, 1879
    January 13, 1891 - January 10, 1893
  • Republican
  • April 25, 1826
  • August 13, 1907
  • Kentucky
  • Army
  • Married twice--Esther A. Woodson, Eliza Pickrell; six children


JOHN LONG ROUTT, Colorado’s first and seventh governor was born in Eddyville, Kentucky, on April 25, 1826. His father passed away soon after his birth, and his mother moved the family to Illinois. Settling in Bloomington, Routt attended the public schools, and apprenticed as a carpenter. He entered politics when he was elected sheriff of McLean County in 1860. Routt resigned from the sheriff’s office in 1862 to serve during the Civil War. He was captain of the 94th Illinois Volunteer Regiment, and fought at the Battle of Prairie Grove and Vicksburg. He earned the reputation of a courageous fighter and was promoted by General Ulysses S. Grant to the rank of colonel. After his military service, Routt was elected treasurer of McLean County and served from 1865 to 1869. He was appointed in 1869 by President Grant to serve as U.S. Marshall for the Southern District of Illinois, and in 1871 he was appointed Second Assistant Postmaster General. He served in this capacity until March 29, 1875, when President Grant rewarded him with the territorial governorship of Colorado. Routt’s administration was involved with the preparation of the territory for admission into the Union. On August 1, 1876, Colorado officially became the 38th State of the Union. Routt was elected Colorado’s first governor, and during his term he served as president of the state land board, obtaining some of the best land with grants from Congress. He also intervened in the town of Creede, placating squatters who were contesting the state’s land claims. Routt did not seek reelection, left office, and returned to his mining and ranching interests. He served as mayor of Denver from 1883 to 1885, and was reelected to the governor’s office in 1891. During his second term, construction started on the long-delayed state capitol, and a controversy erupted on the floor of the House of Representatives involving committee appointments and the selection of the speaker. The Supreme Court mediated and ruled on the legality of the legislature’s resolutions. After leaving office in 1893, Routt worked successfully with the Colorado Non-Partisan Equal Suffrage Association in convincing voters to support the passage of the legalization of women’s suffrage. Governor John Rout died in Denver on August 13, 1907.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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