Daniel I. J. Thornton
|Chair of the National Governors Association|
August 2, 1953 – July 11, 1954
|Preceded by||Allan Shivers|
|Succeeded by||Robert F. Kennon|
|33rd Governor of Colorado|
January 9, 1951 – January 11, 1955
|Lieutenant||Gordon L. Allott|
|Preceded by||Walter Walford Johnson|
|Succeeded by||Edwin C. Johnson|
January 31, 1911|
Hall County, Texas, U.S.
January 18, 1976 (aged 64)|
Carmel, California, U.S.
Gunnison Cemetery |
Texas Tech University, Lubbock|
University of California, Los Angeles
Daniel Isaac J. "Dan" Thornton (January 31, 1911 – January 18, 1976) was a United States cattle breeder and Republican politician who served as the 33rd Governor of the State of Colorado from 1951 to 1955.
Daniel Isaac J. Thornton was born in Hall County, Texas, on January 31, 1911 and graduated from Lubbock, TX high school in 1929. He was very active in 4-H and was elected President of the Texas 4-H clubs in 1927. Thornton attended (1929-30) Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in Lubbock, attended (1932) University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and received Honorary Doctor's Degrees from Western State College, Gunnison, CO (1951) and Texas Technological College (1953).
He married Jessie Willock, and they remained married until her death in 1972. In 1937, the Thorntons purchased a cattle ranch near Springerville in northeastern Arizona. In 1941, they moved their operation to a ranch in Gunnison County in southern Colorado. The Thorntons developed the Thornton Type, a strain of Hereford cattle. In 1948, Thornton was elected to the Colorado State Senate, a position that he held for only two years before becoming governor.
In 1950, Thornton defeated incumbent Democratic Governor Walter Walford Johnson. Thornton was known for his Stetson hat, pipe, and cowboy boots. He served as governor for two then two-year terms. As governor, he was instrumental in locating the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. In 1952 he was one of five people on the short list for consideration of the Republican vice presidential nomination. Dwight D. Eisenhower, like Thornton Texas-born, instead chose Richard Nixon, a freshman U.S. senator from California.
In 1956, Thornton was under discussion for a cabinet appointment. He was the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Colorado that year, but was narrowly defeated by the Democrat John A. Carroll.
Death and legacy
Governor Thornton is the namesake of the City of Thornton outside Denver, Colorado. In 2008, he was listed among the "100 Most Influential People" from Lubbock, as part of the city centennial observation.
- History of Colorado
- Law and government of Colorado
- List of Governors of Colorado
- State of Colorado
- Thornton, Colorado
- Preston, R. L. (2007-02-22). Stetson, Pipe and Boots - Colorado's Cattleman Governor: A Biography About Dan Thornton. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 9781412239622.
- Morris, Roger. Richard Nixon: The Rise of an American Politician. p. 726.
- "The city's most influential people, March 9, 2008". lubbockonline.com. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
- American Hereford Journal. Kansas City, Mo.: Hereford Publications.
- Daniel I. J. Thornton Manuscript Collection. Colorado Historical Society. Denver, Co.
- Daniel I. J. Thornton Newspaper Clippings Collection. Denver Public Library. Western History Collection. Denver, Co.
- Gunnison County Stockgrowers Since 1894 : Tops in Cattle. Denver, Co.: Colorado Cattlemen's Association, 1967.
- Preston, R.L., Ph.D., Stetson, Pipe and Boots, Colorado's Cattleman Governor, A Biography about Dan Thornton, Trafford Publishing, Victoria, B.C., 2006.
- The Governors of Colorado
|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for Governor of Colorado
Donald G. Brotzman
| Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Colorado
Peter H. Dominick
Walter Walford Johnson
| Governor of Colorado
Edwin C. Johnson
| Chair of the National Governors Association
Robert F. Kennon