Back to former Kentucky governors
Thomas Metcalfe

Gov. Thomas Metcalfe

  • August 26, 1828 - September 4, 1832
  • Whig
  • March 20, 1780
  • August 18, 1855
  • Virginia
  • Married Nancy Mason; four children
  • Representative, Senator
  • National Guard


THOMAS METCALFE was born in Fauquier County, Virginia on March 20, 1780. His education was limited and attained at home and in rural schools of Kentucky. After apprenticing in the stonemasonry trade, Metcalfe worked as a stonecutter for several years. During the War of 1812, he served as a captain and commanded a regiment of volunteers in the Battle of Fort Meigs. Metcalfe entered politics in 1812, serving as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, a position he held until 1816. He also served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1819 until 1828, when he resigned to run for governor. Metcalfe won election to the Kentucky governorship in 1828. During his tenure, the Shelbyville-Louisville Road was established, the state’s first railroad was commissioned, a canal at the fall of Ohio was planned, and legislation was sanctioned that developed a statewide school system. After leaving office, Metcalfe continued to stay active in public service. He served as a member of the Kentucky State Senate from 1834 to 1838, was a presidential elector in 1836, served as chairman of the State Board of Internal Improvements from 1840 to 1849, and served as a member of the U.S. Senate from 1848 to 1849. Governor Thomas Metcalfe died of cholera on August 18, 1855, and was buried at the family graveyard on the grounds of the “Forest Retreat” in Nicholas County, Kentucky.


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.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Governors' Papers, Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives, Public Records Division

Virtual American Biographies

Recent Kentucky Governors