Biography of Thomas W. Morgan

Thomas W. Morgan is warden of the Federal prison at Leavenworth. He began his career in Kansas as a newspaper man. Newspaper work brought him naturally into touch with all sorts and conditions of men and affairs and he is only one of many examples that might be noted of newspaper men who have graduated into other spheres of interest and activity. For a number of years Mr. Morgan had been connected with the penal and reformatory institutions of the state, and had become deeply interested in the many sociological problems involved in the handling and administration of prison affairs. He was not new to the work when an appointment under the present administration brought him to the wardenship of the United States prison at Leavenworth. He had an experience founded on careful observation and study along humanitarian lines. Those familiar with his works and his methods say that Warden Morgan had maintained an unusual balance between the practical and the theoretical in prison administration. He never loses sight of the fact that men go to prison because they have committed some offense against society and that they are at least a potential danger to society. Nevertheless he had regarded every inmate under his supervision as a human being and had exercised all possible care to the end that the individual may have a chance to reform and become a useful citizen when his term of isolation had expired.

Mr. Morgan was born in Benton County, Missouri, April 18, 1862. He came with his parents to Kansas in May, 1880. His father, Thomas T. Morgan, was born in Berkeley County, Virginia, now West Virginia, and all his active life was a farmer and merchant. He was living in Missouri at the time of the Civil war, and during a portion of that struggle he served in the United States Marshal’s office in the District of Columbia. Thomas T. Morgan married Kate Monroe.

Warden Morgan was educated in the public schools of Missouri and attended high school at Eureka, Kansas. For three years he was a teacher and also a student of law. He never practiced the profession of law, having found newspaper work more to his liking and having the opportunity he bought the Eureka Messenger, which was conducted under his editorial management and supervision from July 4, 1884, to October 1, 1901. During Cleveland’s second administration Mr. Morgan served as postmaster of Eureka. On January 1, 1902, he took charge of the Ottawa Daily Republican and Weekly Republican-Times, at once changing the name to the Daily and Weekly Republic. He continued the active management of this paper until December 31, 1914.

Mr. Morgan’s first introduction to the administrative side of those institutions of the state maintained for the reformation and punishment of criminals came with his appointment by Governor Hoch on April 1, 1907, as a member of the board of managers of the Hutchinson Reformatory. When that institution was consolidated with the State Penitentiary at Lansing in 1911, Governor Stubbs appointed him a member of the State Board of Penal Institutions, of which he served as president two years. In 1913, when the Girls’ Industrial School of Beloit and the Boys’ Industrial School were added as integral parts of the general penal and reformatory system of the state, Governor Hodges appointed Mr. Morgan as a member of this board, but he never qualified.

Hon. J. C. McReynolds, attorney general of the United States under the Wilson administration, appointed Mr. Morgan warden of the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, and he took charge July 1, 1913.

Mr. Morgan is a democrat, was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions of 1892 and 1904. He served twenty-four years as a member of the Democratic State Central Committee of Kansas. He is a trustee of Ottawa University, a member of the Congregational Church, is a York Rite Mason and Shriner, belongs to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and is a member of the Ottawa Country and the Ottawa Commercial clubs. Mr. Morgan is author of lectures on “Reformation by Law.”

On May 10, 1888, he married Miss Jennie Stillwell, who died October 22, 1915. There are two children, Miriam and Maurice.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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