In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed five men to the office of territorial governor of Idaho. The first two accepted, then decided to take more attractive appointments. Grant’s third choice rejected the appointment outright. The fourth choice, Thomas M. Bowen accepted Grant’s appointment and struck out for Idaho. He spent all of a week in the territory before resigning.
Grant’s fifth choice for governor was Thomas W. Bennett, who had been a brigadier general on the Union side in the Civil War, and who had served two years as the mayor of Richmond, Indiana.
It took Bennett a while to get to Idaho. After losing four other potential governors, the Boise paper asked, “Does not this thing begin to look a little like a farce?”
Happily, the paper reported about a month later that the governor was headed up to Idaho City to “reconnoiter among the Idahoites a few days.” One more thing we can thank our stars for is that “Idahoites” did not become the standard of usage when referring to someone living in Idaho.
Bennett served the territory from 1871 to 1875. He won the election for Congressional delegate for Idaho Territory, and served in that capacity until June 1876, when a recount gave the 1874 election to his opponent, Stephen Fenn. Bennett moved back to his native Indiana when his Congressional office went sour. He died there on Feb. 2, 1893.