Saturday, June 21, 2014

June 22, 1814

200 years ago today, Thomas Posey was the Governor of the Indiana Territory having been appointed by
President James Madison.  He served as the Governor from 1813 until 1816 when Indiana became a state. Following William Henry Harrison’s previous statements as Territorial Governor, Posey advocated the legalization of slavery in Indiana contrary to the provisions of Article 6 of the Northwest Ordinance.  He was vigorously opposed on this position by Territorial Speaker Dennis Pennington of Harrison County and by Congressional Delegate Jonathan Jennings of Clark County. 

Posey had been born in Virginia in 1750 on the plantation adjoining Mt. Vernon which was the home of George Washington.  After distinguished service in the Revolution, Posey received a large land grant for his service.  He selected a tract near Henderson, Kentucky and moved there in 1800.  He became a State Senator and then served as Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky from 1806 to the end of 1808.  He later briefly served as a US Senator from Louisiana after it became a state in 1812.

Posey was considered by the legislature of the Indiana Territory to be inaccessible.  This feeling was exacerbated by Posey’s refusal to live in Corydon which had become the territorial capital in May of 1813.  During his tenure as Governor, he resided in Jeffersonville to be near to his personal physician in Louisville.  A messenger traveled regularly from Corydon to Jeffersonville so that the Governor could communicate with and transmit orders to the territorial government of which Posey was the chief executive.  When Indiana became a state he ran for election as Governor but was defeated by Jonathan Jennings.  Posey was then appointed an Indian Agent for the Illinois Territory and died in Shawneetown, Illinois in 1818.

Throughout the public career of Thomas Posey, he was rumored to be the illegitimate son of George Washington.  Posey simply responded to these rumors by stating that he was born of respectable parentage.  It was an ironic moment when Governor Thomas Posey signed the territorial legislation on December 21, 1813 that created Washington County, Indiana Territory.

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