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John Wooleston Tibbatts


John W Tibbatts was born June 12, 1802 at Lexington, Kentucky.  He graduated from Transylvania College, studied law and gained admittance to the bar in 1826.  He established his legal practice at Newport, where he married General James Taylor's daughter Ann W December 24, 1824 and helped found the Newport Manufacturing Company in 1831. 

 By 1850 he and his wife (Ann W Taylor) possessed a combined estate of $2,500,000 and ranked as one of the city's wealthiest household.  The Tibbatts mansion stood at the northwest corner of Third and Washington. He also owned four young slaves.

Tibbatts became the first resident of Newport to sit in the U.S. House of Representatives when he carried Kentucky's 10th Congressional District for the Democrats in 1842.  The voters reelected him to a second term in 1844.  Although one of the state's wealthiest lawyers, he affiliated with the Loco-foco wing of his party, which favored free trade, hard money, limited government, universal white suffrage and an end to chartered monopolies and other special interest legislation.

See also John Wooleston Tibbatts Congressional Record

While at Washington, Congressman Tibbatts supported the Polk administration's agenda. He backed a hard currency upheld by the Independent Treasury system, free trade, and low taxes.   He nevertheless had the courage to opposed his party on the issue of internal improvements.  In foreign policy, he championed "Manifest Destiny".  He was a "fifty-four-forty man" who vigiorously supported US claims to the Oregon territory.  In January 1845 he introduced legislation to annex Texas and sponsored the resolution that obligated the U.S. to defend its from Mexican aggression.  These measures formed the legal basis for the entry of Texas.

During the Mexican War, President Polk commissioned Tibbatts a full colonel in the regular army and named him to organize the reactivated 16th U.S. Infantry Regiment on April 9, 1847, shortly after he left Congress.  Command of a regular US regiment fell either to the most experience career officers from West Point or to rising political stars worthy of gaining battlefield honors that might propel them to the lands highest offices.  By placing the 16th Infantry under Tibbatts, Polk identified the Newport lawyer as one of the Kentucky's most important Democrats and offered him a chance to emerge among the leading contenders to be Kentucky's next governor or US Senator.

Tibbatts recruited four of his companies in Northern Kentucky and enlisted the other six from Ohio and Indiana.  His unit was sent to the Rio Grande to join the command of his father-in-laws second cousin, Major General Zachary Taylor from Louisville.  Fighting had ended in northern Mexico when his regiment arrived.  He was then appointed as Civil and Military Governor at Monterey, which carried the responsibility of maintaining American supply lines in enemy territory, but offered no chance for military glory.

  A resurgence of strength among Kentucky Whigs hobbled the Newport Colonel's political future after he left the Army in August 1848 but campaigning in Mexico undermined his health.  He died prematurely on July 10, 1852 just as Democratic fortunes were poised to revive in his state. Tibbatts was buried in Newport Cemetery in Southgate which later was renamed Evergreen.

Children of John Wooleston Tibbatts and Ann Wilkinson Taylor (1804-Jan 1868)

1. Keturah Moss Tibbatts b-Nov 1826 in Newport; d-17 Apr 1886 in Newport; m-George Baird Hodge 18 Aug 1851 in Newport
2. James Tibbatts b-1834 in Newport
3. Mary Tibbatts b-1835 in Newport
4. Josephine Tibbatts b-1837 in Newport
5, John Wooleston Tibbatts b-1841 in Newport; d-1 Jan 1895 in Alexandria; br-Evergreen Cemetery; m-Lucy Hooper 8 June 1865
6. Zachariah Taylor Tibbatts b-1847 in Newport
7. Florida Tibbatts b-1850 in Newport; m-T Hooper 20 Aug 1867

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