Philip Francis Thomas

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Philip Francis Thomas
Philip Francis Thomas, sitting.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland
In office
March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1877
Preceded byEphraim King Wilson II
Succeeded byDaniel Henry
Constituency1st district
In office
March 4, 1839 – March 3, 1841
Preceded byJames Pearce
Succeeded byJames Pearce
Constituency2nd district
23rd United States Secretary of the Treasury
In office
December 12, 1860 – January 14, 1861
PresidentJames Buchanan
Preceded byHowell Cobb
Succeeded byJohn Adams Dix
1st Comptroller of Maryland
In office
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byHenry E. Bateman
28th Governor of Maryland
In office
January 3, 1848 – January 6, 1851
Preceded byThomas Pratt
Succeeded byEnoch Louis Lowe
Personal details
Philip Francis Thomas

(1810-09-12)September 12, 1810
Easton, Maryland, U.S.
DiedOctober 2, 1890(1890-10-02) (aged 80)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Resting placeSpring Hill Cemetery
Easton, Maryland, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Sarah Kerr
Clintonia Wright May
EducationDickinson College (BA)

Philip Francis Thomas (September 12, 1810 – October 2, 1890) was an American lawyer, mathematician[1] and politician. He served in the Maryland House of Delegates, was the 28th Governor of Maryland from 1848 to 1851, and was Comptroller of Maryland from 1851 to 1853. He was appointed as the 23rd United States Secretary of the Treasury in 1860 in the Buchanan administration. After unsuccessfully standing for the United States Senate in 1878, he returned to the Maryland House of Delegates, and later resumed the practice of law.

Governor of Maryland[edit]

Born in Easton, Maryland, he graduated from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania in 1830. He studied law and became a lawyer in Easton. He was a delegate to the Maryland's constitutional convention in 1836 and a member of the Maryland House of Delegates in 1838, 1843, and 1845. He was elected as a Democrat to the 26th Congress in 1838 from Maryland's 2nd congressional district, but declined to run again in 1840. He went back to his law practice, but returned to politics eight years later when he was elected the 28th Governor of Maryland, a position he held through 1851. While Governor, in 1849 he commissioned Maryland's contribution to the Washington Monument,[2] a marble building stone upon which the colonial Sparrow Seal of Maryland[3] was engraved.[4]

From 1851 to 1853, he was Comptroller of Maryland and then collector of the port of Baltimore from 1853 to 1860, and United States Commissioner of Patents for a fragment of that year (February through December).[5]

Secretary of the Treasury[edit]

Thomas was appointed United States Secretary of the Treasury in the Presidential Cabinet of President James Buchanan and served from December 12, 1860 until his resignation on January 14, 1861.[5]

Bureau of Engraving and Printing portrait of Thomas as Secretary of the Treasury.

When Howell Cobb, the 22nd Secretary of the Treasury resigned in 1860, Buchanan appointed Thomas the 23rd Secretary. Thomas reluctantly accepted the position. Immediately upon entering office, Thomas had to market a bond to pay the interest on the public debt. There was little faith in the stability of the country due to the threat of secession by the Southern United States, and war appeared inevitable. Northern bankers refused to invest in Thomas's loan, wary that the money would go to the South. Following Interior Secretary Jacob Thompson, Thomas resigned after only a month in response to his failure to obtain the loan.[5]

Later political career[edit]

Two years later, he again became a member of the Maryland House of Delegates in 1863. He presented credentials as a senator-elect to the United States Senate for the term beginning March 4, 1867, but was not seated as a person "who had given aid and comfort" to the Confederate cause by way of giving money to his son "to aid him in joining the rebel army."[6] The charge against him was contested in The New York Times as "partisan intolerance," and in The Chicago Times as "lawless despotism."[6] He was then elected as a Democrat to the 44th Congress from the 1st Congressional district of Maryland, serving from 1875 to 1877, and declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1876.[7] He holds the record for the longest non-contiguous service within the U.S. House.[8][9]

He was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States Senate in 1878. He returned to the Maryland House of Delegates twice, in 1878 and 1883, and then resumed the practice of law in Easton.[7]

Death and burial[edit]

He died in Baltimore in 1890 and is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery in Easton.[7]


  1. ^ "Philip Francis Thomas, MSA SC 3520-1459". Retrieved September 12, 2021.
  2. ^ "The News Journal from Wilmington, Delaware on June 8, 1923 · 6". Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  3. ^ "Sparrow Seal, Maryland State Archives". Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  4. ^ "Photo Gallery (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Marshall, Thomas M. (1919). "Diary and Memoranda of William L. Marcy, 1857". The American Historical Review. 24 (4): 641–653. doi:10.1086/ahr/24.4.641.
  6. ^ a b Russ, William (1933). "Disenfranchisement In Maryland (1861- 1867)" (PDF). Maryland Historical Magazine. 28: 323.
  7. ^ a b c "Thomas, Philip Francis". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  8. ^ "Election Firsts & Notables | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives".
  9. ^ "Record Holders | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives".

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Maryland
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Maryland
Succeeded by
New office Comptroller of Maryland
Succeeded by
Preceded by United States Secretary of the Treasury
Succeeded by