Hon. Thomas Allen Jenckes, U.S. House of Representatives, RI

Is your surname Jenckes?

Research the Jenckes family

Hon. Thomas Allen Jenckes, U.S. House of Representatives, RI's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Thomas Allen Jenckes

Death: November 04, 1875 (56)
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Bowen Jenckes and Abigail Waterman Jenckes
Husband of Mary Jane Jenckes
Father of Eleanor Roelker and Mary Edith Jenckes

Managed by: Jessica Marie German
Last Updated:

About Hon. Thomas Allen Jenckes, U.S. House of Representatives, RI

Burial record:




Thomas Allen Jenckes (November 2, 1818 – November 4, 1875) was a United States Congressional representative for the State of Rhode Island. Jenckes was best known for introducing a bill that created the United States Department of Justice. President Ulysses S. Grant then signed the bill into law on June 22, 1870. Jenckes was also an avid supporter of civil service reform.

Jenckes graduated from Brown University in 1838. Jenckes was admitted to the Rhode Island state bar in 1840. He was clerk in the Rhode Island state legislature from 1840 until 1844. From 1854 until 1857 he was a member of the State house of representatives. He was elected as Republican to the United States Congress in 1863 and served until 1871 when he lost a bid for reelection. He then resumed the practice of law in Cumberland, Rhode Island. Jenckes died on November 4, 1875 and is interred at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.


Congressman Thomas Allen Jenckes (1818-1875) is regarded nationally as “the father of civil service reform.” He was born in Cumberland, was educated in the public schools of that town, and graduated from Brown University in 1838 where he distinguished himself in mathematics and the physical sciences.

Jenckes studied law under Samuel Y. Atwell and was admitted to the bar in 1840. Immediately he entered politics and became a leader in the Law and Order party that put down the Dorr Rebellion. In 1845 Jenckes became state adjutant general, a post he held for a decade, and served as a state representative from 1854 to 1857. He was also chief counsel for Rhode Island in its boundary dispute with Massachusetts and argued for Rhode Island's claim in the U.S. Supreme Court. Jenckes's ability and interest in science and mechanics led him to specialize in patent law, a field in which he gained prominence and from which he gained business opportunities.

Jenckes served in the U.S. House of Representative from 1863 to 1871 as a Radical Republican and wrote an article of President Andrew Johnson's impeachment, the federal Bankruptcy Act of 1867, and several laws relating to patents. He is remembered best, however, as a leader in the movement to reform the federal civil service from a system based on patronage to one founded on “merit.” He patterned his reform bill on the British system of open, competitive examinations for government jobs. In its general outline, the original Jenckes Bill (which did not pass) furnished a model for the famous Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883, a measure that was enacted by Congress seven years after Jenckes died in his native town of Cumberland.

view all

Hon. Thomas Allen Jenckes, U.S. House of Representatives, RI's Timeline

November 12, 1818
Providence, Providence, RI
April 20, 1854
Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, United States
November 4, 1875
Age 56