Back to former Maryland governors
Thomas Watkins Ligon

Gov. Thomas Watkins Ligon

  • January 11, 1854 - January 13, 1858
  • Democratic
  • May 10, 1810
  • January 12, 1881
  • Virginia
  • Hampden-Sydney College; University of Virginia; Yale Law School
  • Married twice--Sally Ann Dorsey, Mary Tolly Dorsey; three children
  • Representative


THOMAS WATKINS LIGON was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia on May 10, 1810. His education was attained at Hampden-Sydney College, from which he graduated in 1830, and at the University of Virginia and at Yale University, where he studied law. Ligon entered politics in 1843, serving as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, a position he held until 1845. He also served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1845 to 1849. Ligon was elected governor of Maryland by a popular vote on November 2, 1853 and was sworn into office on January 11, 1854, becoming the first governor to be elected to a four-year term. During his tenure, conflicts erupted between the Democratic governor and the Know-Nothing dominated legislature; and Baltimore elections became disorderly, which resulted in rioting and an open disagreement between the Baltimore mayor and Ligon. After completing his term, Ligon left office on January 13, 1858 and retired from public service. He served as president of the Patapsco Female Institute in Ellicott City, Maryland. Governor Thomas Watkins Ligon passed away on January 12, 1881, and was buried at the St. John’s Cemetery near Ellicott City, Maryland.


Eisenberg, Gerson G. Marylanders Who Served the Nation. Annapolis, MD: Maryland State Archives, 1992.

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.

White, Frank F., Jr. The Governors of Maryland, 1777-1972. Annapolis, MD: Hall of Records Commission, 1970.

Biographical Directory of U.S. Congress

Maryland State Archives

Recent Maryland Governors