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Thomas Ford

Gov. Thomas Ford

  • December 8, 1842 - December 9, 1846
  • Democrat
  • December 5, 1800
  • November 3, 1850
  • Pennsylvania
  • Transylvania University
  • Married Frances Hambaugh; five children
  • National Guard


THOMAS FORD, Illinois’ eighth governor was born near Uniontown, Pennsylvania, on December 5, 1800. He attended Transylvania University, studied law, and established a legal career in both Waterloo and Edwardsville, Illinois. During the Black Hawk War, he enlisted and served in Colonel Sam Whiteside’s “Spy Battalion.” Ford entered public service in 1829, as states attorney of the Fifth Judicial District, a position he held six years. He served on the bench of the Sixth Illinois Circuit Court from January 14, 1835, until March 4, 1835, when he resigned to serve as judge of the Chicago Municipal Court. Ford also was elected on February 23, 1839 to serve on the bench of the Ninth Illinois Circuit Court and was justice of the Illinois Supreme Court from February 15, 1841, until May 1842. He won election as Illinois governor on August 1, 1842 and was sworn into office on December 8, 1842. During his tenure, construction completed on the Illinois and Michigan Canal; toll revenues were used to counter the state deficit; the amiable closing of state banks was initiated; and the state militia was ordered to control the unrest and difficulties between the Mormons and the Gentiles in Nauvoo, Illinois. Governor Ford’s term ended on December 9, 1846, at which time he retired from politics and returned to his Peoria law practice. Governor Thomas Ford, who authored History of Illinois from its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847, died November 3, 1850. He was buried at the Springdale Cemetery in Peoria, 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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