Thomas Fletcher: Missouri’s Most Hated Governor

A scathing editorial of Missouri Governor Thomas Fletcher published in the June 28th, 1866 Cape Girardeau Argus.

Thomas Fletcher was the 18th Governor of Missouri serving from 1865-1869.

During the Civil War he served as a colonel in the 31’st Missouri Volunteer Infantry (Union) and was captured in 1862.

Fletcher was released via a prisoner exchange in May, 1863 and saw service during the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the Battle of Chattanooga, Tennessee and the Atlanta Campaign. According to

“Returning home because of illness in the spring of 1864, Fletcher recovered in time to organize the 47th and 50th Missouri infantry regiments and to command a regiment at the Battle of Pilot Knob, Missouri, where General Sterling Price‘s advance on St. Louis was stalled. For this service, he was brevetted brigadier general of volunteers.”

At first glance, reading a brief summary of Fletcher’s military and political career in a Wikipedia article seems impressive, however, a closer look at this career will reveal he was a corrupt criminal and a very accurate view of just how the citizens of Missouri felt about him can be found in the June 28, 1866 issue of the Cape Girardeau Argus (Cape Girardeau, Missouri).

Missouri Governor Thomas Fletcher 1865-1869.

The Probity of Thomas Fletcher:

“Although Tom Fletcher and his contemptible minions are detested are detested by the people of Missouri, scornfully and haughtily treated in their private and official relations ( as becomes a dignified and honorable society , when forced into communication with dissolute and unprincipled characters, ) still with shameless and what is still worse malignant audacity, he and they , exercise the functions of their respected offices regardless of law or common decency.

It is not enough to appoint men tainted with impiety and steeped in crimes – such as arson, larceny and murder, to responsible and once honorable offices, but he selects those against even Radicals have expressed their disapprobation , so horribly vile and unnaturally low were the people defying aspirants.

Yet it is the malignant pleasure of this excorable Executive, by such appointments , to sink the State, if possible, beyond redemption.”

Bollinger County, Missouri suffered the fate of one of Governor Fletcher’s “appointees”, James Rogers was appointed sheriff of the county in 1866. In a previous blog post I wrote of Roger’s reputation:

“The June 28, 1866 issue of the Daily Union and American newspaper (Nashville, TN) reported:

General J.R. McCormack, who is a candidate for the Conservative nomination for Congress in the third district, delivered a speech in Dallas, Webster County [Editors note: mistake by newspaper, Dallas present day Marble Hill, Missouri is in Bollinger County] on the 14th inst. , and he was attentively listened to. Shortly afterward a squad of five or six ruffians surrounded him, when one of them, named James Rogers, without provocation, knocked the Doctor down, the blow for a time rendering him speechless.

On recovering , he found the ruffians had left. Rogers is Sheriff of Bollinger county, an officer of the peace, appointed by Governor Fletcher. He is also charged with committing murder during the troubles in Southeast Missouri, and to have been guilty of swindling the Government in some lead and beef contracts down there.”

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