Rediscovering Thomas C. Fletcher: The Lost Missouri Governor
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
BIOGRAPHY PUBLISHED JANUARY, 2019
Stephen F. Huss, Ph.D.
Rediscovering Thomas C. Fletcher,
The Lost Missouri Governor
Although he had been the first Republican Governor in the history of the state, the first native-born governor, the last Civil War governor, the first Reconstruction governor, an internationally-respected attorney, the friend of at least five U.S. presidents, the founder of the City of DeSoto, Missouri, and a nationally recognized war hero, most Missourians have never heard of Thomas Clement Fletcher. Most history books that deal with Missouri History merely mention his Civil War election and personal reservations about the notorious “Drake Constitution.” That is unfortunate and myopic.
His efforts essentially repaired a war-devastated state, began reconciliation between former rebels and Union supporters. He could serve as a positive model for political and personal leadership in a divided populace. Throughout his life he advocated for veterans, Native-American and other minority rights, and for an equitable justice system. He did so in the halls of Congress, State and Federal Courts and the U.S. Supreme Court with grace, determination and integrity.
Fletcher fought for the rights of minorities: Black Civil War Veterans; Black Education in Missouri; Lincoln University; Sitting Bull, Red Cloud; Indians of “Indian Territory”
Fletcher was a strong military man: “Hero of Chickasaw Bayou,” Prisoner of War; Fletcher, with fewer than a thousand men, in 1864, lead the defense of Fort Davidson at Pilot Knob, Missouri, against over thirteen thousand Rebels; Breveted General for Pilot Knob service; Created Missouri Militia after war; National leader of GAR veterans’ organization for thirty years; Led national efforts for veteran’s hospitals, nursing homes, benefits.
“It is safe to say the State never had a better executive officer…. The verdict of history is and will be, that the foundation of the present greatness of Missouri was laid during the administration of Gen. Thomas C. Fletcher….”
Capt. George Grover, 1901, speaking for the GAR Veterans organization at the dedication of the Monument in Bellefontaine Cemetery.
This biography, published in January, 2019, uses primary sources, contemporary newspapers, historical documents and historical analysis to describe the life and impact of Thomas C. Fletcher. His celebrity resulted in hundreds of articles in various newspapers across the nation between 1865 and 1890. At times, the papers quoted him verbatim and even the selections of related topics by the respective newspapers often revealed the true nature of the man.
Dr. Huss will begin a series of presentations about Fletcher with opportunities for book purchase and/or signings of previously purchased copies on March 9th at the Community Center of De Soto, Missouri. The event will be sponsored by the De Soto Historical Society and the City of DeSoto. It will begin at 10:00am on that Saturday. Refreshments will be served. Fletcher and his brother-in-law, Louis Ranken, laid out the city and built the train depot that brought the railroad to the area. Fletcher’s family and the Ranken family built the first homes in De Soto. Even after Fletcher moved away, he continued to support the city. He filed the incorporation papers. He frequently donated funds for city-related projects—especially in regard to education. He also donated the land for the Catholic Church even though he was Methodist.
After the De Soto kick-off, Huss will begin a book tour across the state. Fletcher lived in St. Louis for over twenty years before spending his last years in Washington D.C. Huss will speak at the historic Bellefontaine Cemetery at 2:00pm on May 19, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield at 6:30pm on April 10, the Windsor Library at 10:00am on April 13, at 7:00pm at the Arnold Historical Society, on June 10, The Jefferson County Heritage and Historical Society at 2:00pm on April 14. Arrangements are also in the planning stages for The Fletcher House in Hillsboro on April 27, Fort Davidson in the Fall, and numerous other service clubs across the state are being developed. A presentation at the Civil War Museum at Jefferson Barracks is also planned for early Fall. Other presentations are currently being developed in Kansas City, Springfield, Hannibal, Cape Girardeau, Popular Bluff, Rolla, and Jefferson City. Huss will present a complimentary copy of the book to Governor Parson.
Books are available on-line at Barnes and Noble, WestBow Press, Apple, or Amazon. Barns and Noble West County Center carries hard copies. Other bookstores may have hard copies on hand or can order them. Half of all profits from book sales will be used to support the Fletcher House Foundation’s efforts to preserve and develop Fletcher’s 1850’s home as an historic treasure of Missouri.
Dr. Huss holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from St. Louis University, an MA in History from Southeast Missouri State University, and a BSE from the University of Central Arkansas. He served as one of the founders and as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the COMTREA Community Comprehensive Health Center in Jefferson County, Missouri, from 1974 to 2016. Huss taught as an adjunct-instructor in American History for over 20 years at the Jefferson Community College in Hillsboro. He also has taught World Religions, Western Civilization, and American Politics. His Master’s Thesis was Jefferson County Farmers and World War II. His PH.D. Dissertation was Take No Advantage: The Biography of Robert Campbell.
He is a member of the Fletcher House Foundation, the Vice-President of the Jefferson County Heritage and History Society, serves as a Missouri State Mental Health Commissioner. He served as historian of the Jefferson County Bicentennial Committee in 2018, providing over thirty presentations on the history of Jefferson County reaching over two thousand people. He also served as the keynote speaker for the dedication of the Governor’s Medal on Governor Thomas Fletcher’s grave in November, 2019, at the historic Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.
Dr. Huss has presented over 200 workshops to the St. Louis community on topics such as preventing youth violence, alcoholism and other drug abuse prevention, Jefferson County history, teaching children of divorce, motivation in the classroom, Seven Habits of Effective People, management effectiveness, values clarification and stress management. He has published five books and many articles.