BENTON, Thomas Hart



BENTON, Thomas Hart, (father–in–law of John C. Frémont; brother–in–law of James McDowell [1795–1851], great uncle of Maecenas Eason Benton [1848–1924]), a Senator and a Representative from Missouri; born at Harts Mill, near Hillsboro, N.C., March 14, 1782; attended Chapel Hill College (University of North Carolina); admitted to the bar at Nashville, Tenn., in 1806 and commenced practice in Franklin, Williamson County, Tenn.; member, State senate 1809-1811; served as aide-de-camp to General Andrew Jackson; colonel of a regiment of Tennessee volunteers 1812-1813; lieutenant colonel of the Thirty-ninth United States Infantry 1813-1815; moved to St. Louis, Mo., where he edited the Missouri Inquirer and continued the practice of law; upon the admission of Missouri as a State into the Union, was elected in 1821 as a Democratic Republican (later Jacksonian and Democrat) to the United States Senate; reelected in 1827, 1833, 1839, and 1845 and served from August 10, 1821, to March 3, 1851; chairman, Committee on Indian Affairs (Eighteenth through Twentieth Congresses), Committee on Military Affairs (Twentieth through Twenty-sixth and Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth Congresses), Committee on Foreign Relations (Thirtieth Congress); author of the resolution to expunge from the Senate Journal the resolution of censure on Andrew Jackson; unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the Senate in 1850; censure proceedings were initiated against Benton in 1850, arising from an incident of disorderly conduct on the Chamber floor, but the Senate took no action; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-third Congress (March 4, 1853-March 3, 1855); chairman, Committee on Military Affairs (Thirty-third Congress); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1854 to the Thirty-fourth Congress and for Governor of Missouri in 1856; engaged in literary pursuits in Washington, D.C., until his death there on April 10, 1858; interment in Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Mo.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Boston Public Library

Boston, MA
Papers: 7 items.

Duke University
Special Collections Library

Durham, NC
Papers: In James McDowell correspondence, 1767-1888. Family letters. Finding aid.

Filson Club Historical Society

Louisville, KY
Papers: Miscellaneous letters and references in various collections.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: 1814-1856. 14 items. Also photographs.
Additional Papers: Correspondence in Riggs family papers, 1763-1945; and William Chauncy Langdon papers, 1600-1903.

Missouri Historical Society

St. Louis, MO
Papers: 1790-1942. Ca. 600 items. Transcripts, photocopies, microfilm, correspondence, notes, and other papers on Benton's career, his duels with Charles Lucas in 1817, the St. Louis and Iron Railway Company, abolition, banking and currency, and the development of the West. Includes materials collected by William N. Chambers in writing Old Bullion Benton (1956), photographs, and portrait.

Missouri State Archives

Jefferson City, MO
Papers: Miscellaneous correspondence in various collections.

New Hampshire Historical Society

Concord, NH
Papers: Correspondence in United States Army Pay Department records, 1791-1870.

New-York Historical Society

New York, NY
Papers: 1822-1856. 20 items.

Pierpont Morgan Library

New York, NY
Papers: 1835. 1 item.

Rutgers University Libraries
Special Collections and University Archives

New Brunswick, NJ
Papers: 12 outgoing letters (1832-1853) in the Abel Rathbone Corbin, editor of the St. Louis Argus, papers, 1835-1858.

Southwest Museum

Los Angeles, CA
Papers: Correspondence in John Charles Fre1mont papers, 1813-1890.

University of Colorado Libraries

Boulder, CO
Papers: 1853. 1 microfilm reel. Copy of a letter from Benton to the people of Missouri on the desirability of a rail route from Missouri to the Pacific. Original at the University of Illinois library.

University of Missouri
Western Historical Manuscript Collections

Columbia, MO
Papers: 11 folders. Correspondence, letters, campaign material, memorandum book, and photographs. Finding aid.
Additional Papers: Miscellaneous materials (1804-1854) in several small collections; and in Hardeman family papers, 1777-1922.

University of Virginia
Alderman Library

Charlottesville, VA
Papers: Correspondence in various collections. Finding aid.

Virginia Historical Society

Richmond, VA
Papers: Miscellaneous items in various collections. Finding aid.

Xavier University
McDonald Memorial Library

Cincinnati, OH
Papers: 9 letters (1836-1843 and no date) in the Moses Dawson correspondence, 1811-1845. 6 letters written from Washington, including one from the Senate chamber. Available on microfilm. Finding aid.
Research Libraries Information Network In addition to the institutions listed above, items are also cataloged in collections at: Brigham Young University Archives, Provo, UT; Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA; Nebraska State Historical Society Lincoln, NE; New York University Libraries, Fales Library, New York NY; Radcliffe College, Schlesinger Library, Cambridge, MA; Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY; University of Utah, Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, UT; and Yale University Library, New Haven, CT.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Benton, Thomas Hart. Historical and Legal Examination of that Part of the Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Dred Scott Case, Which Declares the Unconstitutionality of the Missouri Compromise Act, and the Self-extension of the Constitution to Territories, Carrying Slavery Along with it. 1857. Reprint. New York: Johnson Reprint Corp., 1970.

___. Thirty Years' View; Or, a History of the Workings of the American Government for Thirty Years, from 1820 to 1850. 2 vols. 1854-1856. Reprint. New York: Greenwood Press, 1968.

Brewer, John Eddy. "Thomas Hart Benton and American Nationalism." Ph.D. dissertation, Florida State University, 1970.

Chambers, William Nisbet. "As the Twig is Bent: The Family and the North Carolina Years of Thomas Hart Benton, 1752-1801." North Carolina Historical Review 26 (October 1949): 385-416.

___. Old Bullion Benton, Senator from the New West: Thomas Hart Benton, 1782-1858. 1956. Reprint. New York: Russell Russell, 1970.

Eichert, Magdalen. "A Consideration of the Interests Which Lay Behind the Attitudes of Benton, Clay, Webster, and Calhoun in the Development of Public Land Policy, 1830-1841." Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1950.

Frmont, Jessie Benton. "Sketch of the Life of Senator Benton, in Connection with Western Expansion." In Memoirs of My Life, by John Charles Frmont, pp. 1-17. Chicago: Belford, Clarke Co., 1887.

Hansen, William A. "Thomas Hart Benton and the Oregon Question." Missouri Historical Review 63 (July 1969): 489-97.

Kennedy, John F. "Thomas Hart Benton." In Profiles in Courage, pp. 81-99. 1956. Reprint. New York: Harper Brothers, 1961.

McCandless, Perry G. "Benton v. Barton: The Formation of the Second-Party System in Missouri." Missouri Historical Review 79 (July 1985): 425-38.

___. "The Political Philosophy and Political Personality of Thomas Hart Benton." Missouri Historical Review 50 (January 1956): 145-58.

___. "The Rise of Thomas H. Benton in Missouri Politics." Missouri Historical Review 50 (October 1955): 16-29.

___. "Thomas Hart Benton, His Source of Political Strength in Missouri from 1815 to 1838." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Missouri, 1953.

McClure, C.H. "Early Opposition to Thomas Hart Benton."Missouri Historical Review 10 (April 1916): 151-96.

___. "Opposition in Missouri to Thomas Hart Benton." Ph.D. dissertation, George Peabody College for Teachers of Vanderbilt University, 1926.

Meigs, William Montgomery. The Life of Thomas Hart Benton. 1904. Reprint. New York: Da Capo Press, 1970.

Merkel, Benjamin C. "The Slavery Issue and the Political Decline of Thomas Hart Benton, 1846-1856." Missouri Historical Review 38 (July 1944): 388-407.

Morton, John D. "'This Magnificent New World': Thomas Hart Benton's Westward Vision Reconsidered." Missouri Historical Review 90 (April 1996): 284-308.

Morton, John D. "'A High Wall and a Deep Ditch': Thomas Hart Benton and the Compromise of 1850." Missouri Historical Review 94 (October 1999): 1-24.

Mueller, Ken S. Senator Benton and the People: Master Race Democracy on the Early American Frontiers. Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2014.

Ray, P.O. "The Retirement of Thomas H. Benton from the Senate and Its Significance." Missouri Historical Review 2 (October 1907): 1-14; (January 1908): 97-111.

Rogers, Joseph Morgan. Thomas Hart Benton. Philadelphia: G.W. Jacobs Co., 1905.

Roosevelt, Theodore. Thomas H. Benton. 1899. Reprint. New York: AMS Press, 1972. Originally published in 1887 as Life of Thomas Hart Benton.

Sayles, Stephen. "Thomas Hart Benton and the Santa Fe Trail." Missouri Historical Review 69 (October 1974): 1-22.

Shalhope, Robert E. "Thomas Hart Benton and Missouri State Politics: A Re-Examination." Bulletin of the Missouri Historical Society 25 (April 1969): 171-91.

Smith, Elbert B. Magnificent Missourian: The Life of Thomas Hart Benton. 1957. Reprint. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1973.

___. "Thomas Hart Benton: The First Civil War Revisionist." Midwest Quarterly 6 (October 1964): 45-56.

___. "Thomas Hart Benton: Southern Realist." American Historical Review 58 (July 1953): 795-807.

Squires, Monas N. "A New View of the Election of Barton and Benton to the United States Senate in 1820." Missouri Historical Review 27 (October 1932): 28-45.

Thompson, Carol L. " 'Old Bullion.' " Current History 16 (May 1949): 281-85.

Weiner, Alan S. "John Scott, Thomas Hart Benton, David Barton, and the Presidential Election of 1824: A Case Study in Pressure Politics." Missouri Historical Review 60 (July 1966): 460-94.

Welsh, Michael E. "Legislating a Homestead Bill: Thomas Hart Benton and the Second Seminole War." Florida Historical Quarterly 57 (October 1978): 157-72.

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