Thomas Ford



Continuing on with our series on the governors of Illinois down to the end of Reconstruction, we come to the eighth governor of Illinois, Thomas Ford. 

Ford was born on December 5, 1800 in Uniontown Pennsylvania.  His father dying, Ford’s mother settled with Ford and his siblings in 1804 in Illinois.  His older half brother was George Forquer who was born in 1794 and who eventually became a state senator and attorney general of Illinois before dying in 1837.  He assisted Thomas as a young lawyer and then judge.  Ford became a lawyer, eventually, after service in the Black Hawk War, serving as the states attorney in Western Illinois.  He was elected a state court judge in Northern Illinois in 1836.  He then served as a municipal judge in Chicago before becoming a state court judge again.  He became an associate Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court from 1841-42.  Ford had always been interested in politics and in 1842 he was elected Governor as a Democrat. 

Ford in office strove to repair the damage done to the finances of the State by the Internal Improvements Act which had effectively bankrupted Illinois.  Ford’s actions improved the fiscal situation for Illinois, although the debt from the Act would not  be paid completely until 1882. 

Ford’s administration is most notable for the Illinois Mormon War, a fascinating interlude in the history of Illinois which will eventually be covered in a separate post.  Ford was accused of collusion in the deaths of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith on June 27, 1844 when a mob stormed the Carthage jail where the Smiths were awaiting trial on treason charges against the State.  I do not think the evidence supports this accusation, but Ford clearly was completely ineffective in protecting Mormons from mob violence, and allowed a bad situation between Mormons and anti-Mormons to spiral out of control. (more…)

Published in: on May 3, 2010 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,