1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Crittenden, John Jordan

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CRITTENDEN, JOHN JORDAN (1787–1863), American statesman, was born in Versailles, Kentucky, on the 10th of September 1787. After graduating at the College of William and Mary in 1807, he began the practice of law in his native state. He served for three months, in 1810, as attorney-general of Illinois Territory, but soon returned to Kentucky, and during the War of 1812 he was for a time on the staff of General Isaac Shelby. In 1811–1817 he served in the state House of Representatives, being speaker in 1815–1816, and in 1817–1819 was a United States senator. Settling in Frankfort, he soon took high rank as a criminal lawyer, was in the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1825 and 1829–1832, acting as speaker in the latter period, and from 1827 to 1829 was United States district-attorney. He was removed by President Jackson, to whom he was radically opposed. In 1835, as a Whig, he was again elected to the United States Senate, and was re-elected in 1841, but resigned to enter the cabinet of President W. H. Harrison as attorney-general, continuing after President Tyler’s accession and serving from March until September. He was again a member of the United States Senate from 1842 to 1848, and in 1848–1850 was governor of Kentucky. He was an ardent and outspoken supporter of Clay’s compromise measures, and in 1850 he entered President Fillmore’s cabinet as attorney-general, serving throughout the administration. From 1855 to 1861 he was once more a member of the United States Senate. During these years he was perhaps the foremost champion of Union in the South, and strenuously opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, which he declared prophetically would unite the various elements of opposition in the North, and render the breach between the sections irreparable. Nevertheless he laboured unceasingly in the cause of compromise, gave his strong support to the Bell and Everett ticket in 1860, and in 1860–1861 proposed and vainly contended for the adoption by congress of the compromise measures which bear his name. When war became inevitable he threw himself zealously into the Union cause, and lent his great influence to keep Kentucky in the Union. In 1861–1863 he was a member of the national House of Representatives, where, while advocating the prosecution of the war, he opposed such radical measures as the division of Virginia, the enlistment of slaves and the Conscription Acts. He died at Frankfort, Kentucky, on the 26th of July 1863.

See the Life of J. J. Crittenden, by his daughter Mrs Chapman Coleman (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1871).

His son, George Bibb Crittenden (1812–1880), soldier, was born in Russellville, Kentucky, on the 20th of March 1812, and graduated at West Point in 1832, but resigned his commission in 1833. He re-entered the army as a captain of mounted rifles in the Mexican War, served with distinction, and was breveted major for bravery at Contreras and Churubusco. After the war he remained in the army, and in 1856 attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel. In June 1861 he resigned, and entered the service of the Confederacy. He was commissioned major-general and given a command in south-east Kentucky and Tennessee, but after the defeat of his forces by General George H. Thomas at Mill Springs (January 9, 1862), he was censured and gave up his command. He served subsequently as a volunteer aide on the staff of Gen. John S. Williams. From 1867 to 1871 he was state librarian of Kentucky. He died at Danville, Kentucky, on the 27th of November 1880.

Another son, Thomas Leonidas Crittenden (1815–1893), soldier, was also born at Russellville, Kentucky. He studied law, and practised with his father, and in 1842 became commonwealth’s attorney. He served in the Mexican War as a lieutenant-colonel of Kentucky volunteers, and was an aide on Gen. Zachary Taylor’s staff at the battle of Buena Vista. From 1849 to 1853 he was United States consul at Liverpool, England. Like his father, he was a strong Union man, and in September 1861 he was commissioned by President Lincoln a brigadier-general of volunteers. He commanded a division at Shiloh, for gallantry in which battle he was promoted major-general in July 1862. He was in command of a corps in the army of the Ohio under Gen. D. C. Buell, and took part in the battles of Stone River and Chickamauga. Subsequently he served in the Virginia campaign of 1864. He resigned his commission in December 1864, but in July 1866 entered the regular army with the rank of colonel of infantry, receiving the brevet of brigadier-general in 1867, served on the frontier and in several Indian wars, and retired in 1881. He died on the 23rd of October 1893.