Thomas Clay McCreary

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Thomas C. McCreary, senator, was born near Owensboro, KY in 1817; son of Robert and Cynthia (Clay) McCreary. His mother was the daughter of Thomas Clay of Virginia, sixth in descent from the immigrant ancestor, John Clay, who came to that colony in 1613, and from whom also Henry Clay, his second cousin, was descended in the same degree. He was married, in 1845, to Clara Hawes. He is said to have been of “scholarly tastes, broadly read, and a speaker of force and eloquence.” He died in Owensboro, Ky., July 10, 1890.


He received a liberal education at Centre college, Ky., in the class of 1837, but did not graduate; studied law in Daviess county, and was admitted to the bar in 1838. He practiced law for a short time and then devoted himself to agricultural pursuits in his native county.

Political Office

He was candidate in 1852, on the Democratic ticket for elector for Pierce and King, and in 1860 for Breckinridge and Lane, but was defeated. With these exceptions he was never a candidate or held other office than that of U.S. senator. He was first elected U.S. senator in 1868. to fill the unexpired term of James Guthrie, taking his seat Feb. 27, 1868. and served until March 3, 1871. He was elected for a full term in 1872, serving 1873-79. During his service as senator he introduced a bill to restore the property at Arlington, Va. to the family of Robert E. Lee, which was defeated by a party vote. In his second term he was a member of the committees on foreign relations, Indian affairs, civil service and retrenchment.

Source: Lamb’s Biographical Dictionary of The United States, Edited By John Howard Brown, James H. Lamb Company, Boston, 1899

Thomas C. McCreery, of Owensboro, was born in Ky., 1817; was a student at Centre College, Danville, Ky.; studied law, but turned his attention to agricultural pursuits; was a candidate for presidential elector in 1852, and defeated; but in 1860, was elected, and voted for Breckinridge and Lane; was elected U. S. senator, Feb., 1868, as a Democrat, vice James Guthrie, resigned, and served until March 4, 1871 (see Collins’ Annals, p. 186); and again elected, Dec. 19, 1871 (see same, p. 221), for six years from March 4, 1873 to 1879. He is an elegant, forcible, and popular speaker.

Source: Collins historical sketches of Kentucky. History of Kentucky, Lewis Collins, revised and enlarged by Richard H. Collins, Collins & Co., Covington, Ky, 1874.