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William Tharp

Gov. William Tharp

  • January 19, 1847 - January 21, 1851
  • Democrat
  • November 27, 1803
  • January 9, 1865
  • Delaware
  • Married Mary Johnson; five children


WILLIAM THARP, Delaware’s 28th governor, was born near Farmington, Delaware, on November 27, 1803. After finishing his education, he took over his family’s large estate, supervising improvements and cultivating new developments. Tharp entered politics in 1844 as an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate. Two years later, he won election and on January 19, 1847, he was sworn into office. During his tenure, the ownership of Pea Patch Island (off Delaware’s coast) was finally resolved, with the state handing over its rights to the U.S. government. His administration advocated for efficiency and economy in the management of its programs and policies. Also, Tharp publicly supported the Mexican War, but personally doubted the validity of the war. Tharp left office on January 21, 1851, and retired from public service.  He returned to Milford and continued to manage his family’s extensive farm holdings. Governor William Tharp died on January 9, 1865, and he is buried at the Christ Episcopal Churchyard in Milford, Delaware.


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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