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Election Return, Adair County, 6 Aug 1863 - Thomas Bramlette

Thomas Bramlette, Columbia, KY resident when elected Governor in 1863, might also have become President of the United States States but for his declination of an offer in 1865.
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By Mike Watson, Adair County Historian

Thomas Elliott Bramlette was born in what is now Clinton County, then Cumberland, on 3 January 1817. Young Thomas took up "reading law" and was admitted to the Bar in 1837. He was elected to the Kentucky Legislature in 1841 to represent Clinton County; in 1848 he was appointed by then Governor John J. Crittenden to serve as Commonwealth's Attorney and served until 1850 when he resigned to pursue the practice of law in the private sector.


In 1852 Attorney Bramlette located at Columbia, Adair County, where he established a flourishing practice. He was candidate for the Legislature in 1853 on the Whig ticket, but lost to James Chrisman. He was not deterred in politics. He ran for and was elected Circuit Judge of the 6th District in 1856 and served for five years, until the coming of the Civil War.

The Civil War came and Judge Bramlette, who had proven to be an able jurist, resigned and organized the 3rd Kentucky Infantry, accepting commission as Colonel of the Regiment. After several military actions, Colonel Bramlette resigned his commission in July 1862 to accept appointment as United States District Attorney for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, offered by President Abraham Lincoln.

Bramlette declined a commission as Brigadier General in 1863 in order to accept the Union Democrat party's nomination to run for Governor of Kentucky. The primary election was between Bramlette and former Kentucky Governor Charles A. Wickliffe, in August of 1863 at the height of the War.

Columbia, Adair County, was then home of Colonel, soon-to-be-Governor, Bramlette, who fared quite well in the polling here. Military forces are known to have intimidated the supporters of Wickliffe in favor of Bramlette in many areas of the State. As Governor, Bramlette turned down an opportunity for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and also a proposed Vice Presidential spot on the Republican ticket in 1864 with Mr. Lincoln.

This document, the certification of the Adair County vote in the gubernatorial election of 1863, was signed by Adair County Sheriff, Young Elisha Hurt, Sr., and County Court Clerk, John W. Butler. Note the vote count: Bramlette, 986; Wickliffe, 18.

Bramlette returned to the practice of law after his term in Frankfort, settling in Louisville. He died there on 12 January 1875 and was laid to rest in Cave Hill Cemetery. One of his children, a mere babe that died while he was in the military, lies in the Columbia City Cemetery.


This story was posted on 2017-10-24 06:36:15
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Columbian elected KY Governor; might have been President



2017-10-24 - Adair County Public Library, 307 Greensburg Street, Columbia, KY - Photo CM photo of exhibit by Mike Watson, Adair County Historian.
This National Archival Month Exhibit item is on display all of October in the Genealogy Section of the the Adair County Public Library. It is the certification of the Adair County vote in the gubernatorial election of 1863, which was signed by Adair County Sheriff, Young Elisha Hurt, Sr., and County Court Clerk, John W. Butler. Note the vote count: Bramlette, 986; Wickliffe, 18. As Mike Watson points out in the accompanying piece, not only was Thomas Bramlette a resident of Columbia, he turned down an opportunity which would have surely meant he would have been Vice President of the United States, and because of subsequent events, he would have been President

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