Thomas Henry Seymour (1807 – 1868)

Connecticut Governor Thomas H. Seymour

Born in Hartford, Connecticut on September 29, 1807, Thomas Hart Seymour was born to Major Henry and Jane Ellery Seymour. He attended Hartford public school and graduated from Middletown Military Academy just south of Hartford in 1829.  He continued schooling by studying the law and was admitted to the bar in 1833 and started practicing in Hartford.  In 1836, he took the position of judge of probate and, shortly thereafter in 1837, he followed his interest in politics and became editor of The Jeffersonian, a democratic newspaper.  In 1838, he left both positions.

Continuing with his political career, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1842 and served one term.  He declined reelection in 1844.  With the breakout of the Mexican-American War in 1846, Seymour was commissioned major of the 9th regiment of volunteers.  In September 1847, U.S. troops were ordered to take control of the hilltop castle of Chapultepec, which was considered the last obstacle to securing the City of Mexico.  Seymour was among one of the two detachments selected to ascend the steep hillside and gain control over the fortress.  Leading his detachment was Colonel Ransom who was killed during the battle.  Seymour immediately took command of the detachment, and they were able to drive back the assault and were the first to enter the fortress.  As a result of his commendable leadership, Seymour was placed in command of the regiment permanently.

Following the war, Seymour returned to Hartford.  He received the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1849 but lost the election.  He ran again in 1850 and easily won the election.  That same year, residents of Humphreysville, a subsection of Derby, Connecticut, wanted to establish their own community.  They petitioned to become the town of Richmond.  A bill was written with this new town name; however, residents were informed that if they changed the town name to honor the Governor, their request would be approved immediately.  Thus was born the town of Seymour, Connecticut.  Seymour was re-elected to the Governorship in 1851, 1852 and 1853. 

He resigned as Governor in 1853 to accept the commission of Minister to Russia from President Franklin Pierce, and he served in this position until 1858.  The next several years were laden with unsuccessful political campaigns.  He ran for the governorship unsuccessfully in 1860 and 1863, and in 1864 he sought the Democratic nomination for president but lost to Civil War General George B. McClellan.  As a steadfast Democrat who opposed the Union’s stance during the American Civil War, the Connecticut State Senate voted in 1862 to have Governor Seymour’s portrait removed from the Capitol chamber until the comptroller was satisfied with his allegiance to the Federal government.   

Seymour died of typhoid fever on September 3, 1868.  He was the 128th person to be interred at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

References:
Governors of Connecticut. Thomas Hart Seymour.  Accessed at
http://www.onlinebiographies.info/gov/seymour-thomas.htm on February 10, 2011
Mexican History.  Mexican American War Timeline.  Accessed at
http://mexicanhistory.org/MexicanAmericanWarTimeline.htm on February 10, 2011
Town of Seymour, Connecticut.  History of Seymour.  Accessed at
http://www.seymourct.org/history.aspx on February 10, 2011
Wikipedia. Thomas H. Seymour. Accessed at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_H._Seymour on February 10, 2011

Photo credit: Thomas Hart Seymour, 1850s – 1860s, Public Domain