Charles S. Thomas

  • Statehood Governor of Colorado from 1899-1901
    Governor Charles Thomas
  • Party: Democrat

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Early Years




Scope and Content Note

Series Descriptions

Early Years

Charles Spalding Thomas, Democratic Governor of Colorado from 1899-1901, was born on December 6, 1849 in Darien, Georgia. He attended private schools in Macon and several other communities in Georgia. He then moved to Michigan where he enrolled in the University of Michigan, graduating in 1871 with a law degree. Soon after graduation Thomas moved to Denver to seek improvement with his tuberculosis condition, later, he would begin his law practice with a focus on mining law. In 1873, he married Emma Gould Fletcher. They would eventually have five children.


His legal skills were soon noticed, and in 1875 he became the City Attorney for Denver, serving for two years. Thomas then returned to private practice and became involved with the Democratic Party. In 1884, he was invited to serve on the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which was a sure sign that he was politically respected. He continued with the DNC for a period of twelve years, finally leaving in 1896. During these twenty odd years, Thomas became very prominent in mining litigation. His name appears on numerous civil cases in the mining districts of Aspen, Leadville, Creede, Cripple Creek, Boulder and other parts of Colorado.


The fall election of 1898 brought Charles S. Thomas the governorship of Colorado. Some have labeled him as the "Fusion candidate". This term was applied because Thomas not only had the backing of his Democratic Party, but that of many Republicans and those of the Populist Party as well. His administration concentrated on making some fiscal sense of the state's finances. The Panic of 1893 and the loss of the silver standard several years earlier had taken its toll on state revenues. Mines and mining property had been reappraised which resulted in a noticeable decrease in assessed valuations. This loss of property tax was playing havoc on county and state revenue streams. Thomas undertook the reorganization of the state's tax laws in an attempt to ensure a more stable revenue flow. He worked for the introduction of revenue laws as a means to support state institutions such as the penitentiary, deaf and blind school and university. He perceived that many Coloradans were "dodging" their tax obligation by receiving tax-free inheritances and so proposed the establishment of an inheritance tax. He wrote many letters around the country exposing the advantages of free silver in hope that silver and gold would once again be the measure of our nation's currency system. The nation never again adopted the silver standard, but Governor Thomas was unceasing in his commitment to defending its value to the Colorado and national economy.

The people later elected Thomas as United States Senator, serving from 1913 - 1921. He was also the special counsel to the Korean Commission in Washington D.C., which tried to secure the independence of Korea.

Charles Spalding Thomas died on June 24, 1934 in Denver. He is buried at the Fairmont Cemetery in Denver.


  • Baker, James H. History of Colorado. Denver, CO.: Linderman Publishers Inc., 1927.
  • Central City Opera House Association, The Glory That Was Gold. 3rd edition, pg. 141, University of Denver, Denver, CO., 1932.
  • Charles S. Thomas Collection, 1849 - 1934. Denver, CO.: Colorado Historical Society Collection.
  • Charles S. Thomas Collection, 1849 - 1934. Denver, CO.: Denver Public Library Western History Collection.
  • Colorado Catholic, August 1893, page 4, Denver CO.
  • Denver Times, May 5, 1899, page 1, July 1, 1899, page 2, April 9, 1900, page 1, Denver, CO.
  • Rocky Mountain News, June 3, 1880, page 6, October 25, 1881, page 4, Denver, CO.
  • Stone, Wilbur Fisk. History of Colorado. Chicago, IL.: S.J. Clarke Publishers, 1918.
  • Thomas, Sewell. Silhouettes of Charles Spalding Thomas, Colorado Governor &, U.S. Senator. Caldwell, ID.: Caxton Printers, 1959.

Scope and Content Note

This governor's collection encompasses approximately 8 cubic feet of material related to Charles Spalding Thomas, covering his term of office from 1899-1901. Record series included in the collection are the Executive Record, extraditions and requisitions, correspondence, resolutions, applications and appointments, reports, and speeches and messages to the Colorado General Assembly. These archival materials span the years 1899-1901 with a few exceptions. Some documents are in need of repair and may be limited in use.

Governor Thomas's official acts are documented in the Executive Record, Vol. 10, pg. 337-636 and Vol. 11, pg. 1-64. The correspondence files cover a broad range of topics. However, there are several specific files dealing with the "Spanish American War of 1899" and the "War with Spain" which might shed some light on the political issues of the day. Another interesting set of correspondence deals with what is entitled the "Lake City Labor Riots" in Hinsdale County.

Series Descriptions

  • Executive Record

The Executive Record contains executive orders, appointments, legislative messages, pardons, extraditions and requisitions, honorary citations and proclamations, which were issued by Governor Thomas.

  • Extraditions and Requisitions

This series includes documentation concerning the transfer of alleged criminals to a different jurisdiction for trial. Documentation may include the application for extradition, the warrant for arrest, and correspondence concerning the extradition.

  • Correspondence

Included in this series is incoming and outgoing correspondence between the Governor and his constituents, state agencies and other public officials. There are several file folders listed here which reference the Spanish American War, Rough Riders and the War with Spain. Another topic of interest deals with that of the labor strife in Lake City (Hinsdale County) with references to the Italian Labor Strike.

There are telegrams and letters relating to Indians and Indian troubles. There is also correspondence dealing with a possible bubonic plague outbreak, and various other subjects.

  • Applications and Appointments

This record series primarily centers on applications received by the Governor to be considered for official posts within state government, and his appointment of persons to those positions.

  • Reports

The reports are for the most part those received from state agencies, reporting on the accomplishments of their duties. Some of these reports deal with the reduction in the size of the Colorado National Guard, the Rio Grande River gauging station, the construction of the State Wagon Road, prison conditions and poor relief.

  • Speeches and Messages

Addresses and speeches to the 12th and 13th Colorado General Assemblies are included in this series. There is also a special message dealing with issues around the State Insane Asylum Investigation (1899).





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