Thomas Spalding

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Thomas Spalding (March 25, 1774 – January 5, 1851)[1] was a United States Representative from Georgia. He was born in Frederica, GeorgiaSt. Simons IslandGlynn County, Georgia. He attended the common schools of Georgia and Florida and a private school in Massachusetts. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1795,[2] but did not practice. He engaged extensively in agricultural pursuits.[3]

Spalding served as a member of the state constitutional convention in 1798. He was a member of the Georgia Senate in 1799.[4] After traveling for 18 months in England and France, he moved to McIntosh County, Georgia, in 1803 and then again served in the Georgia Senate. He successfully contested as a Republican the election of Cowles Mead to the Ninth Congress and served from December 24, 1805, until his resignation in 1806. He served as a trustee of the McIntosh County Academy in 1807 and was one of the founders of the Bank of Darien and of the branch in Milledgeville, Georgia, and president for many years.

Spalding, who, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia owned 350 slaves, engaged in the planting of Sea Island Cotton, residing on Sapelo Island, Georgia. He was a commissioner on the part of the State of Georgia to determine the boundary line between Georgia and the Territory of Florida in 1826. He was a commissioner from the United States of America to Bermuda to negotiate relative to property taken or destroyed in the South by the British in the War of 1812. He was a president of the convention at Milledgeville, Georgia in 1850 which resolved that the State of Georgia would resist any act of Congress abolishing slavery and died, while en route home, at the residence of his son, near Darien, Georgia, in 1851. He was buried in St. Andrew's Cemetery.

United States House of Representatives

Preceded by
Cowles Mead

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
Georgia's at-large congressional district
December 24, 1805 – 1806

Succeeded by
William Wyatt Bibb


1.    Coulter p. 5. (The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress cites only Coulter but got his birth date and other facts wrong....)

2.    Coulter p. 12

3.    Thomas Spalding at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

4.    Coulter p. 17



·         Coulter, E. Merton. Thomas Spalding of Sapelo. University, La.: Louisiana State University Press, 1940.


Thomas Spalding’s memorial at Findagrave: He was 76 years 9 months 11 days old when he died.



Petition of Thomas Spalding, complaining of the undue election of Cowles Meade, one of the members returned to serve in the House for the state of Georgia

The Constitution granted both houses of Congress the prerogative to judge all questions related to the election and qualification of their members. From the First Congress, the House of Representatives considered contested election cases and determined rightful winners according to the election laws of the individual states and the rules of the House. In response to the petition of Thomas Spalding, the House decided that the disruptions following a severe hurricane prevented the reporting of election returns within the time prescribed by Georgia law. Following a report by the Committee on Elections, the House declared Cowles Meade ineligible and offered the seat to Spalding who took office on December 24,1805.

[9th Deer 1805]


To the Honorable the House of Representatives of the United States of America, The petition of Thomas Spalding Sheweth.

That your petitioner, at the last General Election was a candidate to represent the people of Georgia in your Honorable House; and that he was voted for by four thousand five hundred and four voters; That by an act of the Legislature of the State of Georgia, the Governor is enjoined, within twenty five days after the day of Election in the several counties in the State, to issue his proclamation declaring the persons elected, and to commission the Same; That at the period when the governor was compelled to issue his proclamation, the returns from the counties of Camden Liberty and Tattnall were not received at the Executive office.  In consequence of which, the Honorable Cowles Meade who received but four thousand four hundred and sixty five votes (a less number than was given for your petitioner) was returned a member of your house. And your petitioner states, that it was the act of God that prevented the transmission of the Election returns from the counties of Camden, Liberty and Tattnall, for a Hurricane on the eighth day of September, preceeding the Election, had flooded the country, had swept away the Bridges and rendered the roads absolutely impassable by fallen trees and other obstructions. And that it was not until a period subsequent to the twenty five days limited by the Act for the transmission of returns, That these obstructions were removed, and the roads leading from the counties of Camden Liberty and Tattnall to the seat of the government, rendered passable.  And your petitioner [  ] to the documents which accompany his petition, and relying on the Justice of the House of Representatives, who are the sole Judges of the elections, returns, and qualifications of their own members, Prays on his own behalf, and the behalf of the Majority of the People of Georgia, that he may be admitted to take his seat as a Representative of that State in your Honorable House.

Thos Spalding


9th December, 1805. Referred to the Committee of Elections.

18th December, 1805.  Report made, read and ordered to be committed to a committee of the whole House, on Monday next.

24th December, 1805. Resolution agreed to, that Cowles Meade is not entitled to a seat; and that Thomas Spalding is entitled to a seat in this House, as a representative of the state of Georgia.


[Editor’s NOTE 1: Color added by editor for emphasis only; Editor’s NOTE 2: After the Committee on Elections allowed Spalding’s votes from the areas affected by the hurricane to be added, Spalding won by 39 votes (4504 to 4465). Strangely, after going to all the trouble to contest (and ultimately win) the election, Spalding took his seat on December 24, 1805 and left office (resigned) 2 months and 5 days later when his successor, William Wyatt Bibb, took office on March 1, 1806.]

For more information, see: Sullivan, Buddy. "Thomas Spalding (1774-1851)." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 25 September 2014. Web. 18 March 2015. ( Note, however that this site claims that Spalding served “a two-year term in the U.S. Congress (1805-6).” This is incorrect. As previously stated, Spalding served only two months and five days before resigning his office.