Metcalfe, Thomas, 1780-1855

Alternative names
Birth 1780-03-20
Death 1855-08-18

Biographical notes:

Thomas Metcalfe, born March 10, 1780, was governor of Kentucky from 1828-1832. Before serving as governor, he was a Kentucky representative and a U.S. representative. In the 1820's, he joined the John Quincy Adams-Henry Clay political faction which became known as the National Republicans. After serving as governor, Metcalfe served as state senator (1834-38) and then held a brief term (June 1848-March 1849) in the U.S. Senate, where he denounced secession. In 1848, he campaigned on behalf of Zachary Taylor in his bid for the presidency. His argument with John Cabell Breckinridge stemmed from Free-Soil speeches Metcalfe and Breckinridge's opponent for a U.S. House seat, Robert Perkins Letcher, made while campaigning in Indiana for Taylor. A friend of Breckinridge, John F. Robinson, had the speeches printed in Kentucky papers just as the race between Letcher and Breckinridge gathered steam. Metcalfe lived the rest of his life at his Nicholas County farm, Forest Retreat, where he died of cholera in 1855.

From the description of Thomas Metcalfe letters, 1824-1852. (Kentucky Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 39086430


Thomas Metcalfe was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, but came to Kentucky with his parents at an early age. He became a stonemason and worked on courthouses and other buildings. During the War of 1812 he led a company of volunteers in the battle of Fort Meigs, Ohio. He was elected to the Kentucky General Assembly in 1812 and held his seat until 1816. He served in the U.S. Congress from 1819 to 1828, where he was allied with the faction supporting Henry Clay. He was nominated by the Clay-John Quincy Adams party to oppose the Jacksonian Democrat candidate, William T. Barry, in the 1828 Kentucky gubernatorial race. Metcalfe won the contest and served a four-year term. He later returned to the General Assembly and became active in the new Whig Party. He served briefly as U.S. Senator, replacing John J. Crittenden when he ran for governor. Metcalfe retired to his Nicholas County farm, where he died in 1855.

From the description of Thomas Metcalfe letters, 1807-1841, 1821-1841 (bulk dates). (University of Kentucky Libraries). WorldCat record id: 13729723


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • Politicians--19th century
  • Elections--19th century
  • Politics--19th century


  • Politicians


  • Kentucky (as recorded)
  • Kentucky (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Kentucky (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)