Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

John J. Crittenden (1850–1853): Attorney General

John Crittenden was born in Versailles, Kentucky, on September 10, 1787. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1806 and passed the Kentucky bar the following year. In 1809, he became Illinois Territory's attorney general. He later served in the Kentucky House of Representatives (1811-1817, and 1825-1827), and the U.S. Senate (1817-1819, and 1835-1841). In the interim, from 1827 to 1829, he was U.S. attorney for Kentucky.

Crittenden entered the cabinet of President William Henry Harrison as attorney general, resigning that post on September 13, 1841. He then reentered the Senate, taking over the seat vacated by Henry Clay. Crittenden would serve as governor of Kentucky from 1848 to 1850, again as attorney general from 1850 to 1853, and then again in the Senate from 1854 until 1861. He shifted to the House of Representatives in 1861 as a member of the Unionist Party and served there until March 1863. Crittenden died in Frankfort, Kentucky, while campaigning for reelection, on July 26, 1863.