Daniel I.J. Thornton

Daniel Isaac J. Thornton

Official portrait in Colorado Capitol
33rd Governor of Colorado
In office
January 9, 1951  January 11, 1955
Lieutenant Gordon L. Allott
Preceded by Walter Walford Johnson
Succeeded by Edwin C. Johnson
Colorado State Senator from Gunnison County
In office
Personal details
Born (1911-01-31)January 31, 1911
Hall County, Texas, USA
Died January 19, 1976(1976-01-19) (aged 64)
Carmel, California
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jessie Willock Thornton
Residence Gunnison County, Colorado
Alma mater

Texas Tech University

University of California at Los Angeles
Occupation Rancher

Daniel Isaac J. Thornton (January 31, 1911 – January 19, 1976) was a United States cattle breeder and Republican politician who served as the 33rd Governor of the State of Colorado from 1951 to 1955.


Daniel Isaac J. Thornton was born in Hall County, Texas, on January 31, 1911 and graduated from Lubbock, TX high school in 1929. He was very active in 4-H and was elected President of the Texas 4-H clubs in 1927. Thornton attended (1929-30) Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in Lubbock, attended (1932) University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and received Honorary Doctor's Degrees from Western State College, Gunnison, CO (1951) and Texas Technological College (1953).

He was married to the former Jessie Willock. In 1937, the Thorntons purchased a cattle ranch near Springerville in northeastern Arizona. In 1941, they moved their operation to a ranch in Gunnison County in southern Colorado. The Thorntons developed the Thornton Type, a strain of Hereford cattle. In 1948, Thornton was elected to the Colorado State Senate, a position that he held for only two years before becoming governor.

Political career

In 1950, Thornton defeated incumbent Democratic Governor Walter Walford Johnson. Thornton was known for his Stetson hat, pipe, and cowboy boots. He served as governor for two then two-year terms. As governor, he was instrumental in locating the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. In 1952 he was one of five people on the short list for consideration of the Republican vice presidential nomination. Dwight D. Eisenhower, like Thornton Texas-born, instead chose Richard Nixon, a freshman U.S. senator from California.[1]

In 1956, Thornton was under discussion for a cabinet appointment. He was the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Colorado that year, but was narrowly defeated by the Democrat John A. Carroll.[2]

Death and legacy

Dan Thornton died of a heart attack in Carmel, California, on January 19, 1976.

Governor Thornton is the namesake of the City of Thornton outside Denver, Colorado. In 2008, he was listed among the "100 Most Influential People" from Lubbock, as part of the city centennial observation.[3]

See also


  1. Morris, Roger. Richard Nixon: The Rise of an American Politician. p. 726.
  2. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=s4laAAAAIBAJ&sjid=eUkDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3943,1371834&dq=dan+thornton&hl=en
  3. "The city's most influential people, March 9, 2008". lubbockonline.com. Retrieved September 3, 2011.

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Walter Walford Johnson
Governor of Colorado
Succeeded by
Edwin Carl Johnson
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