About this Famous Person
John J. CRITTENDEN
American politician, 15th and 22nd United States Attorney General
Source : Tim DOWLING
John Jordan Crittenden was born near Versailles, Woodford County, Kentucky. He was the second child and first son of Revolutionary War veteran John Crittenden and his wife Judith Harris. John and Judith Crittenden had four sons and five daughters, all but one of whom survived infancy. On his father's side, he was of Welsh ancestry, while his mother's family was French Huguenot. His father had surveyed land in Kentucky with George Rogers Clark, and settled there just after the end of the American Revolution. Two of Crittenden's brothers, Thomas and Robert, became lawyers, while the third, Henry, was a farmer.
Crittenden began a college preparatory curriculum at Pisgah Academy in Woodford County. He was then sent to a boarding school in Jessamine County. Among his classmates were Thomas Alexander Marshall, John C. Breckinridge, and Francis P. Blair. Crittenden became especially close friends with Blair, and later political differences did little to diminish their friendship. After a year at boarding school, Crittenden moved to the Lexington, Kentucky home of Judge George M. Bibb to study law. He began his tertiary studies at Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia. During his brief tenure there, he studied mathematics and belles-lettres and became friends Hugh Lawson White. Crittenden was dissatisfied with the curriculum at Washington College and matriculated to the College of William and Mary. He studied under St. George Tucker and became acquainted with John Tyler. Crittenden completed his studies in 1806, and was admitted to the bar the following year. He began his practice in Woodford County, but as central Kentucky was well already supplied with able lawyers, he moved to Logan County, Kentucky on the then western frontier and opened his practice in Russellville. At age twenty-two, he was appointed by Governor Ninian Edwards of Illinois Territory as its attorney general. The following year, Edwards also made Crittenden his aide-de-camp.