Thomas, Charles S.

Charles S. Thomas
Darien, McIntosh County, Georgia
Leadville, CO
Denver, CO

pages 504, 506

Charles S. Thomas, ninth Governor of the State of Colorado, (in the twelfth term) is a native of Georgia.  He was born in Darien, McIntosh county, that State, December 6, 1849; which place remained his home until after the close of the civil war.

In 1869 Governor Thomas entered the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor where he was graduated in the law course in April, 1871.  Having determined upon a career in the west, in the autumn of that year he came to Colorado, located in this city and began the practice of law.  In 1873, he and Thomas M. Patterson formed a partnership, and the new firm soon became known as one of the strong legal alliances in the territory.  Mr. Patterson having been elected Territorial Delegate in Congress in 1874, this partnership was terminated in that year; but in 1879 it was resumed, Governor Thomas then being a resident of Leadville, where an important part of the firm’s legal business originated from the mining complications in that crowded and busy camp.  He remained in Leadville until January, 1885, when he returned and permanently established his home in Denver.  Mr. Patterson’s association with Governor Thomas continued until 1890, when the partnership was dissolved and the Governor afterward became the senior member of the present law firm of Thomas, Bryant & Lee.

It is hardly necessary to state that Governor Thomas is an earnest, consistent, conservative Democrat in politics, and conspicuously an able leader of his party in the State of Colorado.  He has served it long and well; in every political canvass for more than twenty years his time and abilities have been freely and tireless devoted to its welfare in both State and National campaigns.  No man in Colorado excels him as a speaker of masterful power, and logical, convincing argument expressed in clear-cut, vigorous English.

In 1875 Governor Thomas was elected and in 1876 was re-elected City Attorney of Denver, a position he filled with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of the people.  In 1880 he was chosen as one of the delegates from Colorado to the National Democratic convention at Cincinnati which nominated General Winfield S. Hancock for the Presidency.  In 1884 he became a member of the Democratic National Committee, and was nominated by the Democratic State convention as a candidate for Congress, Colorado at that time having been entitled to but one Representative.  Governor Thomas added strength to his ticket, but shared the common defeat which befell it that year.  In 1889 and in 1895 he was the Democratic choice for United States Senator, and in 1896 was offered but declined the Democratic nomination for Governor of Colorado.

In September, 1898, Governor Thomas was nominated for Governor by the State convention of his party in session at Colorado Springs.  He had not been a candidate in the sense of having sought the nomination, and the political circumstances of that year impelled his party to do its best in selecting a standard-bearer.  In his speech to the convention, accepting the nomination, Governor Thomas said:

"Conditions which I had not foreseen compelled me to allow my name to be used, only three days ago, as a candidate.  You have seen fit to place in my hands your banner for this campaign.  I accept the responsibility and the occasion.  I do so, not in spirit of ambition, but in consequence of sense of a duty that should inspire all good citizens to serve in the cause of humanity.  I accept the nomination without any pledge to any party or set of men.  If I am elected I shall endeavor to serve the people and have an eye single only to their welfare, serving rich and poor alike, with respect only to my conscience and the constitution."

In Colorado Springs at the same time the conventions of the Populists and the Teller Silver Republicans were in session.  Each of these indorsed the nomination of Governor Thomas and joined the Democrats in completing the State ticket which the three parties should support.  At he November election this so called "fusion" ticket, let by Governor Thomas, was elected, the vote for the head of the ticket having been 94,274 for Thomas, to 50,880 for Henry R. Wolcott, his regular Republican opponent, making the Governor’s majority 43,394.  He was not a candidate for re-nomination or re-election, but became one for election to the United States Senate; the "fusion" of the same parties that carried the State in 1898 having been again successful in the State election of November, 1900.  Though he was the choice of a large number of members of the Legislature, the caucus nomination fell upon his former law partner, Thomas M. Patterson.

Brushing aside the apparently inevitable petty contentions and unworthy fault-finding that beset the paths of our Chief Executives of the State, it will be seen that Governor Thomas faithfully and conscientiously endeavored to give, in his administration, practical effect to the declarations he made in his speech of acceptance to the convention that nominated him.  Owing to the State’s inadequate and inefficient revenue system, he encountered the many difficulties that follow appropriations made with little regard to the volume of revenues.  But he met them with honesty and ability, and with fidelity to the people and to his own high personal character.