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Governor Thomas Fletcher

Governor Thomas C. Fletcher

Governor Thomas Fletcher Home (Restored)
Hillsboro, Missouri

Thomas C. Fletcher, Governor of Missouri (1865–1869) was born in Herculaneum, Missouri. He was Missouri's first native-born governor and a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln.

His parents had immigrated to Missouri from Maryland in 1818. He received a public school education and was elected circuit clerk in Jefferson County, Missouri, from 1849 until 1856. He was admitted to the bar in 1857. Fletcher became a land agent for the southwest branch of the Pacific Railroad (which later became the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway) whereupon he moved to St. Louis. Although he had been raised as a Democrat in a slave-owning family, he had been an ardent abolitionist since his boyhood and became a Republican after 1856.

Fletcher was a delegate to the 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago, where he supported the nomination of Abraham Lincoln. During the Civil War, he was Colonel of the 31st Missouri Volunteer Infantry in the Union army from 1862 until 1864, when he became Colonel of the 47th Missouri Volunteer Infantry. In 1862 he was captured at the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou and taken to Libby Prison, and then exchanged in May 1863. He was present at the fall of Vicksburg and the Battle of Chattanooga, and commanded a brigade in the Atlanta Campaign. Returning home because of illness in the spring of 1864, Fletcher recovered in time to organize the 47th and 50th Missouri infantry regiments and to command a regiment at the Battle of Pilot Knob, Missouri, where General Sterling Price's advance on St. Louis was stalled. For this service, President Lincoln brevetted him brigadier general of volunteers.

Fletcher was nominated for governor of Missouri by the National Union Party and elected in 1864. He served from 1865 to 1869, and issued the proclamation abolishing slavery in the state. The public-school system was thoroughly reorganized and progress was made toward free education for all children. He supported normal schools for training teachers, greater funding for the state university, and special attention to agricultural education. As governor in the difficult postwar period, he proved an exceptionally able administrator. After serving as governor, Fletcher returned to St. Louis and practiced law for a time. He then moved to Washington, D. C., where he continued to practice until his death. He wrote Life and Reminiscences of General Wm. T. Sherman (1891). He was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. Fletcher, Missouri, is named after him, as was the U.S. Army's Fort Fletcher in Kansas.

His Jefferson County home, known as "The Fletcher House" still stands at the Corner of Elm and Main (Second) Street in Hillsboro