Crittenden, John J.

Crittenden, John J. (Jordan)

(1787–1863) lawyer, U.S. senator, cabinet officer; born in Versailles, Ky. After graduating from William and Mary (1807), he returned to Kentucky to practice law. He became a prominent defense attorney before serving several terms in the U.S. Senate (Whig, Ky.; 1817–19, 1835–41, 1842–48, 1854–61). In between his time in the Senate, he served as governor of Kentucky (1849), and U.S. attorney general (1841, 1850–53). After his proposed Crittenden Compromise (1860)—extending the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific, thus allowing but restricting the spread of slavery—failed to avert the Civil War, he moved over to the U.S. House of Representatives (1861–63), where he continued to press for Kentucky's neutrality, the containment of the Union's expanding war aims, and for restraining radicals on both sides.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.