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Thomas Carlin

Gov. Thomas Carlin

  • December 7, 1838 - December 8, 1842
  • Democrat
  • July 18, 1789
  • February 14, 1852
  • Kentucky
  • Married Rebecca Huitt; thirteen children
  • National Guard


THOMAS CARLIN, Illinois’ seventh governor was born near Frankfort, Kentucky, on July 18, 1789. He was a self-taught man, who maintained his passion for reading and learning throughout his life. Carlin’s military duty consisted of service in the War of 1812 and the Black Hawk War, where he served as captain of the Illinois militia and commanded a spy battalion. He entered politics as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, an office he held for two terms. Carlin also served as a two-term member of the Illinois State Senate. In 1834, he secured an appointment through President Andrew Jackson as receiver of public monies at Quincy, Illinois, a position he served in until his election as governor. On August 6, 1838, Carlin was elected governor of Illinois, and on December 7, 1838, he was sworn into office. During his tenure, the state judiciary system was restructured, adding five judges to the supreme court; the Sangamon and Morgan railroad was launched; and the Mormons, who had immigrated into the state, founded the city of Nauvoo. Also, Chicago began to establish itself as a vital city; a $4 million loan was secured and used in the Illinois and Michigan canal construction; and the Illinois Bank and the State Bank of Shawneetown both failed. On December 8, 1842, Carlin left office, not running for reelection, due to the 1818 Illinois Constitution that disallowed a governor from succeeding himself. After filling a vacancy in the Illinois House of Representatives in 1842, Carlin retired from politics and returned to his farming interests in Carrollton. Governor Thomas Carlin, who the city of Carlinville is named for, died February 14, 1852. He is buried at the family graveyard in Greene County, Illinois.


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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