Jesse B. Thomas

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Jesse Burgess Thomas
United States Senator
from Illinois
In office
December 3, 1818 – March 3, 1829
Preceded by none
Succeeded by John McLean
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana Territory's at-large congressional district
In office
October 22, 1808 – March 3, 1809
Preceded by Benjamin Parke
Succeeded by Jonathan Jennings
Personal details
Born 1777
Shepherdstown, Virginia
Died May 2, 1853 (aged 75–76)
Mount Vernon, Ohio
Political party National Republican

Jesse Burgess Thomas (1777 – May 2, 1853) was born in Shepherdstown, Virginia (now West Virginia). He served as a delegate from the Indiana Territory to the tenth Congress and later served as one of Illinois's first two Senators.


Thomas studied law in Mason County, Kentucky and served as the county clerk until 1803. He then moved north of the Ohio River to Lawrenceburg in Indiana Territory, where he continued to practice law and became the territorial deputy attorney general in 1805. In the same year, he began serving as a delegate to the Territorial House of Representatives, and was the body's speaker from 1805 to 1808.

When Benjamin Parke resigned as the territorial delegate to Congress, Thomas was appointed to fill the vacancy from October 22, 1808 until he moved to Kaskaskia, Illinois on March 3, 1809. Thomas was succeeded as territorial delegate by Jonathan Jennings, the future Governor of the state of Indiana.

When Illinois became a territory in 1809, Thomas was appointed judge of the United States court for the northwestern judicial district, a position he held from 1809 until 1818. In 1818, he presided over the Illinois State Constitutional Convention and upon admittance to the Union, he served as Democratic-Republican Senator for two terms (1818–1829).

In 1820, Thomas proposed the Missouri Compromise to limit slavery above the southern border of Missouri. In 1823 he switched parties and became a Crawford Republican. He served as chairman on the Committee on Public Lands in the 16th and 18th Congresses. He refused the nomination for a third term and moved to Mount Vernon, Ohio in 1829, where he lived until he committed suicide on May 2, 1853.[1] He is buried in Mound View Cemetery.

Thomas's nephew, Jesse B. Thomas, Jr. served as Illinois Attorney General and on the Illinois Supreme Court.


  1. ^ Bateman, Newton; Paul Selby; Franices M. Shonkwiler; Henry L Fowkes (1908). Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois. Chicago, IL: Munsell Publishing Company. p. 521. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Benjamin Parke
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana Territory

October 22, 1808 – March 3, 1809
Succeeded by
Jonathan Jennings
United States Senate
Preceded by
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Illinois
Served alongside: Ninian Edwards, John McLean, Elias Kane
Succeeded by
John McLean