Thomas W. Bartley

From Ohio History Central
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Thomas W. Bartley was born in Jefferson County, Ohio, on February 11, 1812. His father was Mordecai Bartley. After the War of 1812 ended, his father moved the family to a small farm near Mansfield. Thomas Bartley attended Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, before studying the law. He was admitted to the Ohio Bar at the age of twenty-one.

Bartley was interested in politics at a young age. His father served in the United States House of Representatives while he was growing up. Shortly after Thomas Bartley started practicing law, Richland County voters elected him prosecuting attorney. Between 1839 and 1845, aside from his brief stint as governor in 1844, Bartley served in the state legislature. He became the Speaker of the State Senate in 1843.

When Governor Wilson Shannon resigned in 1844 to become the United States ambassador to Mexico, Bartley was appointed governor. He served as governor from April 15, to December 3, 1844. His father, Mordecai, was elected as governor in the 1844 election and replaced him. Interestingly, Thomas and Mordecai belonged to different political parties. Thomas Bartley was a Democrat, while Mordecai Bartley belonged to the Whig Party. If Thomas had won the Democratic nomination for governor in 1844, it would be a contest between father and son.

After leaving office in 1845, Thomas Bartley became United States District Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio during President James Polk's administration. He then became a judge on the Ohio Supreme Court between 1852 and 1859, serving as chief justice for three years. He retired from the court in 1859 and returned to private legal practice. Bartley died on June 20, 1885, and was buried in Washington, DC.

See Also


  1. Fess, Simeon D., ed. Ohio: A Four-Volume Reference Library on the History of a Great State. Chicago, IL: Lewis Publishing Company, 1937 
  2. The Governors of Ohio. Columbus: The Ohio Historical Society, 1954