Richard's Top Matches
About Richard Wigginton Thompson
Richard Wigginton Thompson (June 9, 1809 – February 9, 1900) was an American politician.
Thompson was born in Culpeper County, Virginia. He left Virginia in 1831 and lived briefly in Louisville, Kentucky before finally settling in Lawrence County, Indiana. There, he taught school, kept a store, and studied law at night. Admitted to the bar in 1834, he practiced law in Bedford, Indiana, and served four terms in the Indiana General Assembly from 1834 to 1838. He served as President pro tempore of the Indiana Senate for a short time and briefly held the office of acting Lieutenant Governor. In the presidential election of 1840, he zealously advocated the election of William Henry Harrison. Thompson then represented Indiana in the United States Congress, serving in the United States House of Representatives from 1841 to 1843 and again from 1847 to 1849.
During the 1850s Thompson and some of his fellow Whigs (such as his friend Schuyler Colfax) transferred allegiance to the American Party, better known as the Know Nothing Party. They did so due to their suspicion of the increased immigration from Ireland and Germany, but also because of the view of the northern portion of the American Party to be opposed to slavery. In time Thompson and his allies would allow an alliance of their portion of the Whig Party (which was collapsing with the American Party to prevent victories in elections by the Democratic Party.
In the election of 1860 Thompson was his state's leader of those who organized the Constitutional Union Party. At the May convention, Indiana first supported John McLean, but fell in behind John Bell on the second ballot. Thompson was placed on the National Committee, but gave up the on third party strategy in August and supported Abraham Lincoln so as not to risk a Democratic victory in Indiana.
Following the American Civil War, Thompson served as judge of the 18th Circuit Court of the state of Indiana from 1867 to 1869. Active in Republican politics, he was the Platform Committee chairman at the 1868 Republican National Convention in Chicago, he offered Vice President Schuyler Colfax's name for renomination at the 1872 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, and gave the nominating speech for Oliver H. P. Morton for President at the 1876 Republican National Convention in Cincinnati. In 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed him Secretary of the Navy; and he held that office until December 1880.