Wickliffe, Charles Anderson (1788–1869)

By: C. T. Neu

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: August 1, 1995

Charles Anderson Wickliffe, who served as President James K. Polk's special envoy to Texas in 1845, was born near Springfield, Washington County, Kentucky, on June 8, 1788. After attending Wilson's Academy, Bardstown, Kentucky, he served in the War of 1812 and became politically prominent as a member of the Kentucky Legislature, congressman, lieutenant-governor, and governor of Kentucky. From 1841 to 1845 he was postmaster general under President John Tyler. In 1845 Wickliffe was appointed by President Polk confidential agent to Texas. The joint resolution offering Texas statehood in the Union had been passed, and the president had received information that led him to believe that the ministers of Great Britain and France in Texas were exerting themselves to defeat annexation. Wickliffe was instructed to hasten to Texas in order to counteract the contemplated interference and to urge upon the Texan authorities the desirability of accepting speedily the offer of annexation. Reaching Texas early in May 1845, he set to work with energy to effect the purpose of his mission. He traveled much and promised many things, but he associated himself with the anti-Jones faction, which assumed that the Texas President was trying to defeat annexation. This did not please Andrew Jackson Donelson, the American chargé, and it aroused the resentment of Anson Jones. No real harm was done however because public sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of annexation, and Wickliffe witnessed the approval of it by the Convention of 1845. His later political career included election to Congress as a Union Whig, candidacy for governor of Kentucky on the ticket of the Peace Democrats, and membership in the Democratic National Convention of 1864. He died near Ilchester, Hartford County, Maryland, on October 31, 1869, and was buried at Bardstown, Kentucky.

Dictionary of American Biography. Justin Harvey Smith, The Annexation of Texas (New York: Baker and Taylor, 1911; 2d ed., New York: Macmillan, 1919; 3d ed., New York: Barnes and Noble, 1941; 4th ed., New York: AMS Press, 1971).
Time Periods:
  • Republic of Texas
  • Antebellum Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

C. T. Neu, “Wickliffe, Charles Anderson,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 16, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wickliffe-charles-anderson.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995