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Theodore H. Thomas

Theodore H. Thomas

Theodore H. Thomas

5th Colorado Attorney General
Term: 1885-1886


                In the Colorado general election of 1884, Republican Benjamin Eaton won the Governor’s race and Republican Theodore Thomas won the Attorney General’s office.

Theodore H. Thomas and his twin brother Thornton were born February 2, 1852 in Augusta, Kentucky. His father came to the United States in 1833, settled in Philadelphia and married, and then moved to farms in Kentucky and Ohio. Theodore was one of nine children. He attended Augusta College in Kentucky and moved to New York City in 1869 to become a court reporter. At the same time he began his study of the law. In 1875 he moved to Brown County, Ohio and was admitted to the bar. He and his twin brother, also a lawyer, then started their own firm, “Thomas and Thomas,” in St. Louis. In 1880 both brothers moved to Gunnison, Colorado and continued their practice there. In Gunnison, Thomas met and married Miss Emma Fairchild and became active in the Republican Party. He was nominated by acclamation for Attorney General at the Republican State Convention in 1884 in Colorado Springs.

               After his election as Attorney General, Thomas moved to Denver. Shortly after taking office in 1885 he was required to argue, once again, in the United States Supreme Court, the dispute with H. C. Brown over title to the State Capitol Building site. Again, the State prevailed. In a controversial opinion, Thomas took on the practice of the General Assembly of hiring up to 175 clerks and other employees who were paid by resolution of the legislature. Thomas opined that the warrants were illegal and should not be paid. The decision was not popular with legislators but was upheld by the State Supreme Court and saved the taxpayers $50,000 per year.

               Thomas also took up the cause of tax levies in Colorado and ruled that any levy in excess of four mills was illegal under the Colorado Constitution. Again, his decision prevailed against a challenge in the Colorado Supreme Court.

               Thomas left office after one term as Attorney General, but was elected a State Senator from Denver in 1896 on the National Silver Party ticket. As a State Senator he authored a school consolidation bill later vetoed by the Governor. He also engineered a reorganization of the General Assembly through “Fusion” tickets. Fusion, no longer allowed, was a process by which various political parties nominated the same candidate and combined their votes.

               Theodore Thomas remained in Denver until his death on April 14, 1926. He was described by biographer William Byers as:

“…a fluent and forcible speaker, an able lawyer, and a man of great energy, fearless in the advocacy of what he believes to be right. Socially, he is a pleasant gentleman, a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity, a Knight Templar and Shriner, and member of the Presbyterian Church.”[1]



[1] Byers, History of Colorado, Volume 1, p. 395-396.