Portrait of Posey by John Bayless Hill
| State Senator of Kentucky |
|3rd Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky|
January 1806 –December 1808
|Preceded by||John Caldwell|
|Succeeded by||Gabriel Slaughter|
| United States Senator |
October 8, 1812 –February 4, 1813
|Preceded by||Jean N. Destréhan|
|Succeeded by||James Brown|
|2nd Governor of Indiana Territory|
March 3, 1813 –November 7, 1816
|Preceded by|| John Gibson |
as Acting Territorial Governor
|Succeeded by|| Jonathan Jennings |
|Born||July 9, 1750|
Fairfax County, Virginia
|Died||March 19, 1818 67) (aged|
|Spouse(s)||Martha Mathews 1772 – 1778|
Mary Alexander Thornton 1784 – 1818
|Branch/service|| Continental Army |
United States Army
|Years of service||1775 – 1783 (Continental Army)|
1793 – 1794 (US Army)
|Rank|| Lieutenant Colonel (Continental Army)|
Brigadier General (USA)
|Battles/wars||American Revolutionary War Northwest Indian War|
Thomas Posey (July 9, 1750 –March 19, 1818) was an officer in the American Revolution, a general during peacetime, the third Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky, Governor of the Indiana Territory, and a Louisiana Senator.
Thomas Posey was born on the banks of the Potomac River on a farm adjacent to Mt Vernon in Fairfax County, Virginia on July 9, 1750.According to his own account, he was "born of respectable parentage." Throughout his life Posey was dogged by rumors that he was the illegitimate son of George Washington. The rumor persisted even after his death and was the subject of several newspaper articles.
Most historians are unsure of who his parents truly were as there is little recorded of them. Posey grew up on land adjacent to Washington's Mt. Vernon home, in the home of John Posey. John was a close friend of George Washington, and Thomas benefited from Washington's patronage early in his life. The rumors were dismissed by Posey's biographer, John Thornton Posey.
Posey received a plain English education from the neighborhood school and at 19 he moved to the Virginia frontier near Staunton, Virginia where he intended to engage in a trade or farm.He opened a business producing saddles and married Martha Mathews, daughter of Sampson Mathews of the Mathews family. The couple had three sons, although only one survived to adulthood. Martha died in 1778 while giving birth to the third son. Life on the frontier was tumultuous, and the Indians' continual raiding led to a reprisal by the Virginia's Royal Governor, Lord Dunmore. In 1774 Posey was in the quartermaster's department of an armed expedition against the Indians who were threatening the frontier settlements. He was present at the Battle of Point Pleasant, and the expedition succeeded in suppressing the Indians for the short term.
Posey was elected a member of the Virginia committee of correspondence in 1775.He served in the army during the War of Independence, first as a captain in the Continental Army, mostly with the 7th Virginia Regiment, then later rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1782. Some claimed his quick rise was due to the patronage of George Washington. During the war Posey led campaigns against Lord Dunmore who was fortified on Gwyn's Island and drove him and his naval support out of the area. Lord Dunmore had been the officer he served under during the Indian war. In the winter of 1775 the 7th Virginia Regiment marched to join with General George Washington in New Jersey. It was at this time that Washington promoted Posey to the rank of Captain. During the winter of 1776, Posey commanded the pickets guarding the Valley Forge encampment and led skirmishes almost daily. The following campaigning season, his corps was involved in the battle to drive Gen. Howe back to New York City, and played a critical role in the Battle of Monmouth. In 1778 Capt. Posey replaced Daniel Morgan as commander of the Provisional Rifle Corps when it was reduced to two companies. His small unit was sent to upstate New York to help secure that frontier flank of the Continental Army's Highland Department. He was promoted to major and given command of the 7th Virginia Regiment on December 20, 1778.
In July 1779 Posey was assigned to command a battalion of light infantry in Corps of Light Infantry commanded by Brig-Gen. Anthony Wayne. As part of the provisional 1st Regiment under Col. Christian Febiger, he led his battalion in a bayonet night assault to storm Stony Point, a key British position on the Hudson River near West Point. Posey was one of the first to enter the British works and seized the colors of the 17th Regiment of Foot.
In his absence, the 7th Virginia regiment was ordered on December 8, 1779, to join the rest of the Virginia Line to march to Charleston, South Carolina, to join the Southern Army. When the Corps of Light Infantry disbanded in December, Posey was sent to join his regiment, but the army surrendered on May 12, 1780, before he could rejoin it. As one of the few uncaptured Virginia officers, Posey had few duties until exchange of captured soldiers occurred in early 1781, at which time Col. Febiger recruited him to help reconstitute the Virginia Line in a new "18-month" battalion. He became de facto commander of the battalion and served in the siege of Yorktown. During 1781–1782 he served with General Wayne again, this time in Georgia against the forces in Savannah. He was promoted to Lt. Col. in 1782.
When the war ended, Posey returned to Virginia having resigned from the army on March 10, 1783. In the same year he became an original member of the Virginia Society of the Cincinnati.
He took guardianship of his surviving son who had been living with friends since the death of his mother. Posey married Mary Alexander Thornton, the wealthy widow of George Thornton, in 1784. Posey had nine children by her. He remained married to her until his death. The family lived on her Fredericksburg, Virginia plantation, where Posey farmed for nearly eighteen years. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for the United States House of Representatives in 1797, and held several appointed position in the Virginia state government.
Posey briefly returned to the military following several setbacks to the army which was campaigning against the Wabash Confederacy in the Old Northwest. He reentered the army as a brigadier general in 1793 and served with "Mad" Anthony Wayne campaigning against the Indians beyond the frontier in the Northwest Indian War.Posey was disturbed by the actions of second in command, General James Wilkinson. Wilkinson had been secretly undermining Wayne's authority in reports to Washington, and Posey discovered that Wilkinson had been involved in similar plots against other ranking officers, including the former frontier commander George Rogers Clark. Years after Wilkinson's death, it was discovered that he had been accepting bribery money from Spain to stir up trouble on the frontier. Because of the ill feelings caused by Wilkinson, Posey resigned from the army again on February 20, 1794, only a few months before the war was ended following American victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.
In 1802, Posey received 7,000 acres (2,800 ha) in reward for his military service, and he was given several options of land tracts in the western United States. He chose land near Henderson, Kentucky and moved his family to the new estate. His prestige made him immediately popular in the area and he was elected to the Kentucky State Senate, beginning a term on November 10, 1804 and became the body's speaker. In 1805 he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky, serving a brief term. He was a candidate for governor in 1808, but withdrew to support Charles Scott.
In preparation for possible hostilities with the French and British, in 1809 Congress authorized an army of 100,000 men to be mobilized. Kentucky was assigned the task of providing five thousand men. Posey returned to the army as a Major General in command of the Kentucky militia. He oversaw an organization of the militia to ready them for the war before he resigned from in 1810.He then moved to the Attakapas region of Louisiana, and was appointed by the governor to serve as a U.S. Senator from that state in 1812–1813 to fill the vacant seat of Jean Noel Destréhan after his resignation. In Washington D.C. he also assisted the Acting Secretary of War in preparing war plans.
After he was defeated for re-election to his senate seat, he was appointed by President James Madison to be Governor of Indiana Territory in February 1813 where he succeeded William Henry Harrison who had accepted a new position to lead the army against Indians in the Northwest Territory.When he arrived he relieved John Gibson of his duties as acting-governor. The Territorial General Assembly, who had been strongly opposed to the previous governor, took the absence of a strong governor to enact several pieces of legislation it had been trying to force Harrison to pass for several years, including the move of the capital. The assembly was unhappy with Posey's appointment, hoping to have instead received a northern governor who was opposed to slavery and more agreeable to the prevailing mood of the territory. He arrived in the new capital of Corydon in December 1813 where he delivered a conciliatory speech to the assembly.
Posey was considered to be a charitable and personally likable man in the territory. He was an active member of the Presbyterian Church and became president of a Bible Society, who distributed free Bibles to the poor.Posey disliked the small capitol, and because of his poor health he wanted to be closer to a physician in Louisville, Kentucky. During the middle of the first General Assembly session, Posey moved to Jeffersonville where he remained for the duration of his tenure, and from there conducted the office of governor. He communicated with the legislature in Corydon by courier. The legislature was offended by his absence, which they portrayed as a continuation of the previous governor's alleged aristocratic tendencies and issued a resolution that rebuked him for leaving.
Posey's most important act as governor was to reorganize the territorial courts. In 1815 Posey called a special session of the assembly to meet in Corydon to create a new territorial judiciary. The existing judiciary's authority was in question because the courts had been created at a time when no authority had been granted by Congress to create their offices. Posey presided over the assembly which ultimately divided the territory into three judicial districts and appointed several judges.The legislature was pleased to find that Posey's appointments to public office were not overly partisan, and were happy with his approval of road construction and the framework he created for basic educational facilities. He also approved the charter for the Bank of Vincennes, the first in the territory leading to considerable economic advancement.
Despite his attempts to please the territory's population, he was widely disliked by the legislature for his "inaccessibility", and his pro-slavery sentiments were at odds with that of the anti-slavery dominated territory. He was the frequent victim of speaker Dennis Pennington's huaranging speeches. Although statehood was approved during his term, he is considered to have had little impact on it, and instead attempted to delay it. In a speech he delivered, he claimed the territory's population was too sparse to bear the taxation that would be necessary to effectually grow the state, and instead recommended remaining a territory for a longer period to continue receiving federal financial assistance. The legislature pressed for statehood, and the territory's congressman Jonathan Jennings proposed federal legislation to approve statehood. When Indiana became a state in 1816, he ran unsuccessfully for Governor and was defeated by Jennings, 5,211 to 3,934 votes.A key election issue causing the dislike of Posey was that he was in favor of slavery in Indiana, which much of the legislature, Dennis Pennington, and Jonathan Jennings opposed.
In the last two years of his life, he served as an Indian agent in Illinois, negotiating treaties with the Wea, Kickapoo, and Pottawatomie. He was appointed Indian Agent of Helios's in 1816.He was a candidate for Congress again in 1817, hoping to be elected to Jennings' now vacant seat in Congress, but was overwhelming defeated by William Hendricks. He died of Typhus fever on March 19, 1818 in Shawneetown, Illinois, aged 67, and was buried in the Westwood Cemetery. Posey County, Indiana, and Posey Township, Franklin County, Indiana . were named in honor of Thomas Posey.
William Henry Harrison was an American military officer and politician who served as the ninth president of the United States in 1841. He died of typhoid, pneumonia or paratyphoid fever 31 days into his term, becoming the first president to die in office. His death sparked a brief constitutional crisis regarding succession to the presidency, because the Constitution was unclear as to whether Vice President John Tyler should assume the office of president or merely execute the duties of the vacant office. Tyler claimed a constitutional mandate to become the new president and took the presidential oath of office, setting an important precedent for an orderly transfer of the presidency and its full powers when the previous president fails to complete the elected term.
The Northwest Territory in the United States was formed after the American Revolutionary War, and was known formally as the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio. It was the initial post-colonial Territory of the United States and encompassed most of pre-war British colonial territory west of the Appalachian mountains north of the Ohio River. It included all the land west of Pennsylvania, northwest of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River below the Great Lakes. It spanned all or large parts of six eventual U.S. States. It was created as a Territory by the Northwest Ordinance July 13, 1787, reduced to Ohio, eastern Michigan and a sliver of southeastern Indiana with the formation of Indiana Territory July 4, 1800, and ceased to exist March 1, 1803, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Ohio, and the remainder attached to Indiana Territory.
James Wilkinson was an American soldier and statesman, who was associated with several scandals and controversies.
The Indiana Territory was created by a congressional act that President John Adams signed into law on May 7, 1800, to form an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 4, 1800, to December 11, 1816, when the remaining southern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Indiana. The territory originally contained approximately 259,824 square miles (672,940 km2) of land, but its size was decreased when it was subdivided to create the Michigan Territory (1805) and the Illinois Territory (1809). The Indiana Territory was the first new territory created from lands of the Northwest Territory, which had been organized under the terms of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. The territorial capital was the settlement around the old French fort of Vincennes on the Wabash River, until transferred in to Corydon near the Ohio River in 1813.
John Gibson was a veteran of the French and Indian War, Lord Dunmore's War, the American Revolutionary War, Tecumseh's War, and the War of 1812. A delegate to the first Pennsylvania constitutional convention in 1790, and a merchant, he earned a reputation as a frontier leader and had good relations with many Native American in the region. At age sixty he was appointed the Secretary of the Indiana Territory where he was responsible for organization the territorial government. He served twice as acting governor of the territory, including a one-year period during the War of 1812 in which he mobilized and led the territorial militia to relieve besieged Fort Harrison.
George Rogers Clark was an American surveyor, soldier, and militia officer from Virginia who became the highest-ranking American patriot military officer on the northwestern frontier during the American Revolutionary War. He served as leader of the militia in Kentucky throughout much of the war. He is best known for his celebrated captures of Kaskaskia (1778) and Vincennes (1779) during the Illinois Campaign, which greatly weakened British influence in the Northwest Territory. The British ceded the entire Northwest Territory to the United States in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, and Clark has often been hailed as the "Conqueror of the Old Northwest".
George Mathews was a Continental Army officer during the American Revolutionary War and rose to the rank of brevet brigadier general; he was Governor of Georgia, and a U.S. Congressman. He was the leading participant in the Patriot War of East Florida, an 1810–1812 filibuster expedition to capture Spanish Florida for the United States.
Jonathan Jennings was the first governor of Indiana and a nine-term congressman from Indiana. Born in either Hunterdon County, New Jersey, or Rockbridge County, Virginia, he studied law before immigrating to the Indiana Territory in 1806. Jennings initially intended to practice law, but took jobs as an assistant at the federal land office at Vincennes and assistant to the clerk of the territorial legislature to support himself and pursued interests in land speculation and politics. Jennings became involved in a dispute with the territorial governor, William Henry Harrison, that soon led him to enter politics and set the tone for his early political career. In 1808 Jennings moved to the eastern part of the Indiana Territory and settled near Charlestown, in Clark County. He was elected as the Indiana Territory's delegate to the U.S. Congress by dividing the pro-Harrison supporters and running as an anti-Harrison candidate. By 1812 he was the leader of the anti-slavery and pro-statehood faction of the territorial government. Jennings and his political allies took control of the territorial assembly and dominated governmental affairs after the resignation of Governor Harrison in 1812. As a congressional delegate Jennings aided passage of the Enabling Act in 1816, which authorized the organization of Indiana's state government and state constitution. He was elected president of the Indiana constitutional convention, held in Corydon in June 1816, where he helped draft the state's first constitution. Jennings supported the effort to ban slavery in the state and favored a strong legislative branch of government.
William Hendricks was a Democratic-Republican member of the House of Representatives from 1816 to 1822, the third Governor of Indiana from 1822 to 1825, and an Anti-Jacksonian member of the U.S. Senate from 1825 to 1837. He led much of his family into politics and founded one of the largest political families in Indiana. He was the uncle of Thomas Andrews Hendricks, who was also Governor of Indiana and Vice President of the United States. Hendricks County was named in his honor. His term as governor was spent repairing the state's finances to later enable large scale internal improvements. The establishment of the basic framework of the state's public school system and the transfer of the capital from Corydon to Indianapolis also occurred during his term.
The Legion of the United States was a reorganization and extension of the Continental Army from 1792 to 1796 under the command of Major General Anthony Wayne. It represented a political shift in the new United States, which had recently adopted the United States Constitution. The new Congressional and Executive branches authorized a standing army composed of professional soldiers, rather than relying on state militias.
Ratliff Boon was the second Governor of Indiana from September 12 to December 5, 1822, taking office following the resignation of Governor Jonathan Jennings' after his election to Congress. A prominent politician in the state, Boon was instrumental the formation of the state Democratic Party, and he supported President Andrew Jackson's policies during his six terms representing Indiana in the United States House of Representatives.
David Wallace was the sixth governor of the US state of Indiana. The Panic of 1837 occurred just before his election and the previous administration, which he had been part of, had taken on a large public debt. During his term the state entered a severe financial crisis that crippled the state's internal improvement projects. He advocated several measures to delay the inevitable insolvency of the state. Because of his connection to the internal improvement platform, his party refused to nominate him to run for a second term. The situation continued to deteriorate rapidly and led to state bankruptcy in his successor's term. After his term as governor, he became a congressman, then chairman of the Indiana Whig party before becoming a state judge, a position he held until his death.
Charles Scott was an 18th-century American soldier who was elected the fourth Governor of Kentucky in 1808. Orphaned in his teens, Scott enlisted in the Virginia Regiment in October 1755 and served as a scout and escort during the French and Indian War. He quickly rose through the ranks to become a captain. After the war, he married and engaged in agricultural pursuits on land left to him by his father, but he returned to active military service in 1775 as the American Revolution began to grow in intensity. In August 1776, he was promoted to colonel and given command of the 5th Virginia Regiment. The 5th Virginia joined George Washington in New Jersey later that year, serving with him for the duration of the Philadelphia campaign. Scott commanded Washington's light infantry, and by late 1778 was also serving as his chief of intelligence. Furloughed at the end of the Philadelphia campaign, Scott returned to active service in March 1779 and was ordered to South Carolina to assist General Benjamin Lincoln in the southern theater. He arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, just as Henry Clinton had begun his siege of the city. Scott was taken as a prisoner of war when Charleston surrendered. Paroled in March 1781 and exchanged for Lord Rawdon in July 1782, Scott managed to complete a few recruiting assignments before the war ended.
Slavery in Indiana occurred between the time of French rule during the late seventeenth century and 1826, with a few traces of slavery afterward. When the United States first forcibly removed the Native Americans from the region, slavery was accepted as a necessity to keep peace with the Indians and the French. When the Indiana Territory was established in 1800, William Henry Harrison, a former slaveholder, was appointed governor and slavery continued to be tolerated through a series of laws enacted by the appointed legislature.
Dennis Pennington was a farmer and a stonemason who became known for his many years in public office as an early legislator in the Indiana Territory and in Indiana's General Assembly as a representative of Harrison County, Indiana. Pennington, a member of the Whig Party, became the first speaker of the Indiana territorial legislature's lower house in 1810, served as the territory's census enumerator in 1815, and represented Harrison County as one of its five delegates to the constitutional convention of 1816. Pennington was the first speaker of the Indiana Senate, and served in the state legislature for eighteen years, which included five years in the Indiana House of Representatives and thirteen years in the Indiana Senate. His major political contributions relate to his strong opposition to slavery. Pennington ran unsuccessfully for Indiana's Lieutenant Governor in 1825. In addition to his service in the state legislature, Penning was a Harrison County sheriff and a justice of the peace, a trustee of Indiana University, and a member of the Grand Lodge of Indiana. He also supervised construction of the limestone courthouse that served as Indiana's first state capitol building in Corydon, Indiana. The historic Old Capitol, the seat of state government from 1816 to 1825, is one of his most enduring legacies. Fondly remembered as "Old Uncle Dennis" or "Father Pennington," he was known for his common sense and strong character and became one of Harrison County's most influential citizens.
Davis Floyd was an Indiana Jeffersonian Republican politician who was convicted of aiding American Vice President Aaron Burr in the Burr conspiracy. Floyd was not convicted of treason however and returned to public life after several years working to redeem his reputation. He lost his wealth in the Panic of 1819 and died in obscurity in Florida 1834.
During the War of 1812, Indiana Territory was home to several conflicts between the United States territorial government and partisan Native American forces backed by the British in Canada. The Battle of Tippecanoe, which had occurred just months before the war began, was one of the catalysts that caused the war. The war in the territory is often considered a continuation of Tecumseh's War, and the final struggle of the Sixty Years' War.
Benjamin Parke was an American lawyer, politician, militia officer, businessman, treaty negotiator in the Indiana Territory who also served as a United States federal judge in Indiana after it attained statehood in 1816. Parke was the Indiana Territory's attorney general (1804–1808); a representative to the territory's first general assembly (1805); its first territorial delegate to the United States House of Representatives (1805–1808); one of the five Knox County delegates to the Indiana constitutional convention of 1816; and a territorial court judge (1808–1816). After Indiana attained statehood, Parke served as the first United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Indiana (1817–1835).
Sampson Mathews was an American soldier, merchant, lawyer, legislator, and college founder in the colony of Virginia.
The Mathews family is a political family from Virginia and the American South prominent in the 18th to 20th centuries. Numerous members participated in the law-making of Virginia throughout British Colonial, Confederate, and United States authority, while elsewhere members served in West Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi in positions including Governor, U.S. House Representative, U.S. Consul, State Supreme Court Chief Justice, Chief of the Army Air Corps, State Attorney General, and State Legislator.
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Jean N. Destréhan
| U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Louisiana |
Served alongside: Allan B. Magruder
Acting Territorial Governor
| Governor of Indiana Territory |
First State Governor
| Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky |