Eminent Statesman/Crittenden House

Historical Marker #1154 in Frankfort notes the home of Kentucky statesman John Jordan Crittenden.

John J. Crittenden was one of Kentucky's most accomplished and well respected politicians of the nineteenth century. His reputation came, in part, from the many different offices he held during his lifetime.

Crittenden was born in 1786 in Woodford County and graduated from the College of William and Mary. At only twenty-three years old, Crittenden was appointed as attorney for Illinois Territory. In 1811, Crittenden won office in the Kentucky House of Representatives. His term was interrupted for service in the War of 1812.

In 1817, Crittenden was selected by his General Assembly peers to fill the state's vacant post in the U.S. Senate. Crittenden resigned his senate seat in 1819 and moved to Frankfort to establish his private law practice. At this time he bought a brick house on Main Street that had been formerly owned by Dr. Joseph Scott. Crittenden owned the house and lived there until his death in 1863.

In 1834, Crittenden was chosen as Kentucky's Secretary of State. The following year he returned to the U.S. Senate. He was then selected to be William Henry Harrison's attorney general in 1840, but resigned when John Tyler became president upon Harrison's death. Another term in the senate helped further Crittenden's career and brought him the governorship of Kentucky in 1848. After two years of service to the state, Crittenden resigned and became Millard Fillmore's attorney general. In 1854, he served yet another term in the senate. It was during this term that he proposed the "Crittenden Compromise" as an attempt to ameliorate the sectional differences between the slave and free states. Crittenden's last official office was in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served from 1861 until his death in 1863. Crittenden is buried in the Frankfort Cemetery.

Crittenden's noted role in attempting to avoid the Civil War is ironic in that one of his sons, George Bibb Crittenden, served as a general in the Confederate army, while another son, Thomas Leonidas Crittenden, served as a general in the Union army.