ROBERT P. LETCHER was born in Goochland County, Virginia on February 10, 1788. After his family moved to Garrard County, Kentucky in 1800, Letcher attended the Joshua Fry Academy and worked with his father in the masonry trade. He studied law, was admitted to the bar, and established a legal career in Lancaster. Letcher entered politics as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, a position he held from 1813 to 1815, 1817, and 1836 to 1838, and serving as speaker in the 1837 and 1838 sessions. He also served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1822 to 1835. Letcher won the Whig gubernatorial nomination and was elected governor by a popular vote in 1840. During his tenure, the economy was crippled by the Panic of 1837, thus resulting in the state cutting back on expenditures. This had a positive effect on the state’s deficit, which was significantly reduced by the time Letcher left office. After his gubernatorial term, he was appointed envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Mexico, a position he held from 1849 to 1852. After running unsuccessfully for Congress in 1852, Letcher retired from public service. Governor Robert P. Letcher died on January 24, 1861, and was buried in the State Cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress
Governors' Papers, Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives, Public Records Division
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.
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