Thomas A. Hendricks

This article is about the Vice President of the United States. For his uncle the state representative, see Thomas Hendricks, Sr.
Thomas A. Hendricks

Thomas Andrews Hendricks, c.1860–1865
21st Vice President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1885  November 25, 1885
President Grover Cleveland
Preceded by Chester A. Arthur
Succeeded by Levi P. Morton
16th Governor of Indiana
In office
January 13, 1873  January 8, 1877
Lieutenant Leonidas Sexton
Preceded by Conrad Baker
Succeeded by James D. Williams
United States Senator
from Indiana
In office
March 4, 1863  March 4, 1869
Preceded by David Turpie
Succeeded by Daniel D. Pratt
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1853  March 4, 1855
Preceded by Willis A. Gorman
Succeeded by Lucien Barbour
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 5th district
In office
March 4, 1851  March 4, 1853
Preceded by William J. Brown
Succeeded by Samuel W. Parker
Member of the Indiana General Assembly
In office
Personal details
Born Thomas Andrews Hendricks
(1819-09-07)September 7, 1819[1]
Fultonham, Ohio
Died November 25, 1885(1885-11-25) (aged 66)
Indianapolis, Indiana
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Eliza Morgan Hendricks
Children Morgan Hendricks (1848–51)
Alma mater Hanover College
Religion Episcopalian
Signature Cursive signature in ink

Thomas Andrews Hendricks (September 7, 1819  November 25, 1885) was an American politician and lawyer from Indiana who served as the 16th governor of Indiana (1873–77) and the 21st Vice President of the United States (1885). Hendricks represented Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives (185155) and the U.S. Senate (186369). He also represented Shelby County, Indiana, in the Indiana General Assembly (184850) and as a delegate to the 1851 Indiana constitutional convention. In addition, Hendricks commissioner of the General Land Office (185559). Hendricks, a popular member of the Democratic Party, was a fiscal conservative known for his honesty and adherence to the U.S. Constitution. He defended the Democratic position in the U.S. Senate during the American Civil War and Reconstruction Era and voted against the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. He also opposed Radical Reconstruction and President Andrew Johnson's removal from office following Johnson's impeachment in the U.S. House.

Born in Muskingum County, Ohio, Hendricks moved to Indiana, with his parents in 1820; the family settled in Shelby County in 1822. After graduating from Hanover College, class of 1841, Hendricks studied law in Shelbyville, Indiana, and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1843. Hendricks began his law practice in Shelbyville, moved to Indianapolis in 1860, and established a private law practice with Oscar B. Hord in 1862. The firm evolved into Baker & Daniels, one of the state's leading law firms. Hendricks also ran for election as Indiana's governor three times, but won only once. In 1872, on his third and final attempt, Hendricks defeated General Thomas M. Brown by a margin of 1,148 votes. His term as governor of Indiana was marked by numerous challenges, including a strong Republican majority in the Indiana General Assembly, the economic Panic of 1873, and an economic depression. One of Hendricks's lasting legacies during his tenure as governor was initiating discussions to fund construction of the present-day Indiana Statehouse, which was completed after he left office. A memorial to Hendricks was installed on the southeast corner of its grounds in 1890.

Hendricks, a lifelong Democrat, was his party's candidate for U.S. vice president with New York governor Samuel Tilden as its presidential nominee in the controversial presidential election of 1876. Although they won the popular vote, Tilden and Hendricks lost the election by one vote in the Electoral College to the Republican Party's presidential nominee, Rutherford B. Hayes, and his vice presidential running mate, William A. Wheeler. Despite his poor health, Hendricks accepted his party's nomination for vice president in the election of 1884 as Grover Cleveland's running mate. Cleveland and Hendricks won the election, but Hendricks only served as vice president about eight months, from March 4, 1885, until his death on November 25, 1885, in Indianapolis. He is buried in Indianapolis's Crown Hill Cemetery.

Early life and education

Hendricks was born on September 7, 1819, in Muskingum County, Ohio, near East Fultonham and Zanesville. He was the second of eight children born to John and Jane (Thomson) Hendricks. His parents, who were originally from Pennsylvania, were living in Ohio when Thomas was born.[2][3][4]

In 1820 Hendricks moved with his parents and older brother to Madison in Jefferson County, Indiana, at the urging of Thomas's uncle, William Hendricks, a successful politician who served as a U.S. Representative, a U.S. Senator (1825–37), and as the third governor of Indiana (1822–25).[5][6] Thomas's family settled on a farm near his uncle's home in Madison, but moved to Shelby County, Indiana, in 1822. Hendricks's father, a successful farmer who operated a general store, became involved in politics. President Andrew Jackson appointed John Hendricks as deputy surveyor of public lands for his district.[7] The state's political leaders frequently visited the Hendricks home in Shelbyville, and from an early age Hendricks was influenced to enter politics.[8][9]

Hendricks attended local schools (Shelby County Seminary and Greensburg Academy) and pursued classical studies in college. He graduated from Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana, in 1841, in the same class as Albert G. Porter, also a future-governor of Indiana.[7][10][11] After college Hendricks read law with Judge Stephen Major in Shelbyville, and in 1843 took an eight-month law course at a school operated by his uncle, Judge Alexander Thomson, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Hendricks returned to Indiana, where he was admitted to the bar in 1843, and established a private law practice in Shelbyville.[11][12][13]

Marriage and family

Hendricks married Eliza Carol Morgan of North Bend, Ohio, on September 26, 1845, after a two-year courtship. The couple met when Eliza was visiting her married sister, Mrs. Daniel West, in Shelbyville.[14] The Hendricks's only child, a son named Morgan, was born on January 16, 1848, and died in 1851, at the age of three.[11][15] Thomas and Eliza Hendricks moved to Indianapolis in 1860[11] and resided at 1526 South New Jersey Street in what became known as the Bates-Hendricks House from 1865 to 1872, when he became governor of Indiana.[16][17]

Early political career

Hendricks remained active in the legal community and in state and national politics from the 1840s until his death in 1885.[12][18]

Indiana legislature and constitutional convention

Hendricks began his political career in 1848, when he served a one-year term in the Indiana House of Representatives after defeating Martin M. Ray, the Whig candidate.[19] Hendricks was also one of the two Shelby County delegates to the 1850–51 Indiana constitutional convention. He served on committee that created the organization of the state's townships and counties and decided on the taxation and financial portion of the state constitution. Hendricks also debated the clauses on the powers of the different offices and argued in favor of a powerful judiciary and the abolishment of grand juries.[11][20]

U.S. congressman

Hendricks represented Indiana as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives (1851–55) in the Thirty-second and Thirty-third Congresses from March 4, 1851, to March 4, 1855.[21][22][23] Hendricks was chairman of the U.S. Committee on Mileage (Thirty-second Congress) and served on the U.S. Committee on Invalid Pensions (Thirty-third Congress). He supported the principle of popular-sovereignty and voted in favor of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which expanded slavery into the western territories of the United States. Both positions were unpopular in Hendricks's home district in Indiana and led to defeat in his re-election bid to Congress in 1854.[11][24]

Land office commissioner

In 1855 President Franklin Pierce appointed Hendricks as commissioner of the General Land Office in Washington, D.C.[22][11][24] His job supervising 180 clerks and a four-year backlog of work was a demanding one, especially at a time when the government was going through one of its largest periods of land sales in history.[11] During his tenure as commissioner the land office issued 400,000 land patents and settled 20,000 disputed land cases. Although Hendricks made thousands of decisions related to disputed land claims, only a few were reversed in court,[24] but he did receive some criticism: "He was the first commissioner who apparently had no background or qualifications for the job. ...Some of the rulings and letters during Hendricks's tenure were not always correct."[25]

Hendricks resigned as land office commissioner in 1859 and returned to Shelby County, Indiana.[22] The cause of his departure was not recorded, but potential reasons may have been differences of opinion with President James Buchanan, Pierce's successor. Hendricks resisted Buchanan's efforts to make land office clerks patronage positions, objected to the proslavery policies of the Buchanan administration, and supported the homestead bill, which Buchanan opposed.[26]

Candidate for Indiana governor

Hendricks ran for governor of Indiana on three separate occactions (1860, 1868, and 1872), but succeeded only on his third attempt. He became the first Democrat to win a gubernatorial seat after the American Civil War.[3]

In 1860 Hendricks, who ran as the Democratic candidate for governor of Indiana with David Turpie as his running mate, lost to the Republican candidates, Henry S. Lane and Oliver P. Morton.[11][22][26] Lane beat Hendricks by nearly 10,000 votes.[27]

In 1868, his second campaign for Indiana governor, Hendricks lost to Conrad Baker, the incumbent, by 961 votes.[28][29][30] In the national election, Republican nominees Ulysses S. Grant and his running mate, Schuyler Colfax of Indiana, carried the state by a margin of more than 20,000 votes, suggesting that the close race for governor demonstrated Hendricks's popularity in Indiana.[29] Following his defeat in his second gubernatorial race Hendricks retired from the U.S. Senate in March 1869 and returned to his private law practice in Indianapolis, but remained connected to state and national politics.[31][32]

In 1872, his third campaign and final campaign to become governor of Indiana, Hendricks narrowly defeated General Thomas M. Browne. Hendricks received 189,424 votes; Browne received 188,276.[31]

Law practice

In addition to his years of service in various political offices in Indiana and Washington, D.C., Hendricks maintained an active law practice, which he first established in Shelbyville in 1843 and continued after his relocation to Indianapolis in 1860.[11] Hendricks and Oscar B. Hord established a law firm in 1862 at Indianapolis, where Hendricks practiced until the Indiana General Assembly elected him to represent Indiana in the U.S. Senate in 1863.[31][33] The law practice was renamed Hendricks, Hord, and Hendricks in 1866, after Abram W. Hendricks joined the firm. In 1873 it was renamed Baker, Hord, and Hendricks, after Conrad Baker, the outgoing governor of Indiana, joined the firm and Hendricks succeeded him as governor. In 1888 the firm passed to Baker's son, who partnered with Edward Daniels, and it became known as Baker & Daniels. The firm grew into one of the state's leading law firms.[33][34]

Photo of Sen. Thomas A. Hendricks (c. 1865)

High office

U.S. Senator

Hendricks represented Indiana in the U.S. Senate (1863–69) during the final years of the American Civil War and part of the Reconstruction Era.[31][35] His six years in the Senate covered the Thirty-eighth, Thirty-ninth, and Fortieth Congresses, where Hendricks was a leader of the small Democratic minority and a member of the opposition who was often overruled.[36][37][38]

Hendricks challenged what he thought was radical legislation, including the military draft and issuing greenbacks; however, he supported the Union and prosecution of the war, consistently voting in favor of wartime appropriations.[2][39] Hendricks adamantly opposed Radical Reconstruction. After the war he argued that the Southern states had never been out of the Union and were therefore entitled to representation in the U.S. Congress. Hendricks also maintained that Congress had no authority over the affairs of state governments.[38]

Hendricks voted against the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution that would, upon ratification, grant voting rights to males of all races and abolish slavery.[2] Hendricks felt it was not the right time, so soon after the Civil War, to make fundamental changes to the U.S. Constitution. Although Hendricks supported freedom for African Americans, stating, "He is free; now let him remain free,"[40] he unsuccessfully opposed reconstruction legislation.[2][41] Hendricks also opposed President Andrew Johnson's removal from office following his impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives.[2]

Hendricks's views were often misinterpreted by his political opponents in Indiana.[39] When the Republicans regained a majority in the Indiana General Assembly in 1868, the same year Hendricks's U.S. Senate term expired, he lost reelection to a second term.[31] Republican congressman-elect Daniel D. Pratt took over Hendricks's Senate seat.

Governor of Indiana

In 1872 Hendricks was elected as the governor of Indiana in his third and final bid for the office, defeating General Thomas M. Browne, the Republican candidate, with 189,424 votes to Browne's 188,276. Browne, a Civil War veteran and a former state senator and U.S. attorney, lost by a narrow margin of 1,148 votes.[32][42][43]

Hendricks served as governor of Indiana from January 13, 1873, to January 8, 1877,[32] a difficult period of post-war economic depression following the financial Panic of 1873. Indiana experienced high unemployment, business failures, labor strikes, and falling farm prices. Hendricks twice called out the state militia to end workers' strikes. One was a mining strike in Clay County; the other was a railroad workers' strike in Logansport.[8]

Although Hendricks succeeded in encouraging legislation enacting election and judiciary reform, the Republican-controlled legislature prevented him from achieving many of his other legislative goals.[44] In 1873 Hendricks signed the Baxter bill, a controversial piece of temperance legislation that established a strict form of local option, even though he personally had favored a licensing law. Hendricks signed the legislation because he thought the bill was constitutional and reflected the majority view of the Indiana General Assembly and the will of Indiana's citizens. The law proved to be unenforceable and was repealed in 1875; it was replaced by a licensing system that Hendricks had preferred.[31][45]

One of Hendricks's lasting legacies during his tenure as governor began with discussion to fund construction of a new Indiana Statehouse. The existing structure, which had been in use since 1835, had become too small, forcing the growing state government to rent additional buildings around Indianapolis. Besides its size, the dilapidated capitol building was in need of major repair. The roof in the Hall of Representatives had collapsed in 1867 and public inspectors condemned the building in 1873. The cornerstone for the present-day state capital building was laid after Hendricks left office, but he delivered the keynote speech at the ceremonial event in 1880.[46] The new statehouse was completed eight years later and remains in use as Indiana's state capitol building.[47]

Vice presidential nominee

Campaign poster for the election of 1876.

Hendricks ran for the office of vice president on the Democratic Party's ticket in 1876 and 1884; he won on the second attempt in 1884.[48] The Democrats also nominated Hendricks for the vice presidency in 1880, but he declined for health reasons.[1][49]

In the disputed presidential election of 1876 Hendricks ran as the Democratic candidate for vice president with New York governor Samuel Tilden as the party's presidential nominee.[1] Hendricks did not attend the Democratic convention in Saint Louis, where Tilden became the party's nominee for president, but the Indiana delegation urged Hendricks to consider running as the vice presidential candidate. Hendricks agreed and was nominated unanimously. The party's strategy to win the election was to carry the two key states of the nominees, New York and Indiana, the home states of the nominees, plus the Solid South.[50]

Although they received the majority of the popular vote, Tilden and Hendricks lost the eleciton by one vote in Electoral College balloting to Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican Party's presidential nominee, and William A. Wheeler, his vice presidential running mate.[50] A fifteen-member Electoral Commission that included five representatives each from the House, Senate, and U.S. Supreme Court determined the outcome with twenty electoral votes in dispute. In an 8 to 7 partisan vote the commission awarded all twenty of the disputed votes from South Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, and Oregon to the Republican candidates.[51] Many historians believing that the Compromise of 1877 was struck to resolve the dispute. Tilden and Hendricks accepted the decision, despite deep disappointment at the outcome.[51]

As chairman of the Indiana delegation, Hendricks attended the Democratic Party's national convention in 1884 in Chicago, where he was nominated as its vice presidential candidate by a unanimous vote.[52] Grover Cleveland was the party's presidential nominee in the 1884 presidential election. Once again the Democrats' strategy was to win New York, Cleveland's home state, and Hendricks's home state of Indiana, plus the electoral votes of the Solid South. Democrats narrowly won New York, Hendricks carried Indiana, and the Cleveland-Hendricks ticket won the electoral votes of two more Northern states plus the Solid South to secure the election.[53]

Vice President, 1885

Hendricks, who had been in poor health for several years, served as U.S. vice president during the last eight months of his life, from his inauguration on March 4 until his death on November 25, 1885. The vice presidency remained vacant after Hendricks's death until 1889, when Levi Morton assumed office.[4][51][54][55]

Death and legacy

The tomb of Thomas Hendricks in Indianapolis, Indiana

Hendricks died unexpectedly on November 25, 1885, during a trip home to Indianapolis.[56][57] He complained of feeling ill the morning of November 24, went to bed early, and died in his sleep the following day.[55]

Hendricks's funeral service at Saint Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in Indianapolis was a large one. Hundreds of dignitaries were in attendance, included President Grover Cleveland, and thousands of people gathered along the city's street to see the 2-kilometre (1.2 mi) long funeral cortege as it traveled from downtown Indianapolis to Crown Hill Cemetery, where his remains were interred.[58][59][60]

Hendricks, a popular member of the Democratic Party who believed in its principles, remained on good terms with Democrats and Republicans. He was a fiscal conservative and a powerful orator who was known for his honesty, firm convictions, and adherence to the U.S. Constitution.[36][61][62]

Hendricks was one of four vice-presidential candidates from Indiana who were elected during the period 1868 to 1920, when Indiana's electoral votes were critical to winning a national election. (The three other men from Indiana who became U.S. vice presidents during this period were Schuyler Colfax, Charles W. Fairbanks, and Thomas R. Marshall.) Five other men from Indiana, George Washington Julian, Joseph Lane, Judge Samuel Williams, John W. Kern, and William Hayden English, lost their bids for the vice presidency during this time period.[63][64]

Honors and tributes

Hendricks depicted on a Series 1908 $10 silver certificate.

Electoral history

Indiana gubernatorial election, 1872[31]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Thomas A. Hendricks 189,242 50.1
Republican Thomas M. Browne 188,276 49.9
Indiana gubernatorial election, 1868[69]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Conrad Baker 171,575 50.1
Democratic Thomas A. Hendricks 170,614 49.9
Indiana gubernatorial election, 1860[70]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Henry S. Lane 139,675 51.8
Democratic Thomas A. Hendricks 129,968 48.2

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Gugin and St. Clair, p. 161.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Gugin and St. Clair, p. 160.
  3. 1 2 Gray, p. 122.
  4. 1 2 "Biography of Thomas A Hendricks". Archived from the original on October 30, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  5. Gugin and St. Clair, p. 52.
  6. Gray, p. 122, 123.
  7. 1 2 Gray, p. 123.
  8. 1 2 Gugin and St. Clair, p. 160–61.
  9. Gray, p. 122–23.
  10. Holcombe and Skinner, p. 74.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Gugin and St. Clair, p. 162.
  12. 1 2 Memorial, p. 16.
  13. Gray, p. 124.
  14. Holcombe and Skinner, p. 90.
  15. Holcombe and Skinner, p. 92, 93.
  16. 1 2 "Bates-Hendricks House: Site Assessment". Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2016-08-22. See also: Lois Hagedorn (1975-04-29). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Bates-Hendricks House" (pdf). U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Retrieved 2016-08-22. In "SHAARD database" (Searchable database). Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  17. 1 2 "Bates-Hendricks House". Indiana Historical Bureau. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
  18. Gugin and St. Clair, p. 162, 164.
  19. Holcombe and Skinner, p. 97, 99–100.
  20. Holcombe and Skinner, p. 109–12.
  21. Gugin and St. Clair, p. 160, 164.
  22. 1 2 3 4 Memorial, p. 21.
  23. Gray, p. 127.
  24. 1 2 3 Gray, p. 127–28.
  25. C. Albert White, Bureau of Land Management. A History of the Rectangular Survey System. Government Printing Office. p. 119.
  26. 1 2 Gray, p. 128–29.
  27. Three of the four men (Lane, Morton, and Hendricks) eventually served as Indiana's governo and all four became U.S. senators. See Gray, p. 129.
  28. Memorial, p. 23, 24.
  29. 1 2 Gray, p. 134.
  30. Baker, who would later become one of Hendricks's law partners, was elected as lieutenant governor of Indiana in 1864, and became Indiana's governor after Morton was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1867. See Gray, p. 134.
  31. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Gugin and St. Clair, p. 163.
  32. 1 2 3 Memorial, p. 24.
  33. 1 2 Gray, p. 125.
  34. Gugin and St. Clair, p. 162, 163.
  35. Military reverses in the Civil War, some unpopular decisions in the Lincoln administration, and Democratic control of the Indiana General Assembly helped Hendricks win election to the U.S. Senate. See Gray, p. 130.
  36. 1 2 Gugin and St. Clair, p. 164.
  37. Gray, p. 130, 131.
  38. 1 2 Memorial, p. 22.
  39. 1 2 Gray, p. 130.
  40. Gray, p. 132.
  41. Thornbrough, p. 226–27.
  42. Gugin and St. Clair, p. 163, 164.
  43. An indication of Hendricks's growing national popularity occurred during the presidential election of 1872, the Democrats supported and subsequently nominated Horace Greeley, the Liberal Republican candidate. Greeley died only days after the election, but before the Electoral College cast their ballots; 42 of 63 Democratic electors previously pledged to Greeley voted for Hendricks. See Gray, p. 135.
  44. Holcombe and Skinner, p. 308–09.
  45. Gray, p. 135.
  46. Gugin & St. Clair, p. 164.
  47. Gray, p. 136.
  48. Gugin and St. Clair, p. 164–65.
  49. In 1880, while on a visit to Hot Springs, Arkansas, Hendricks suffered a bout of paralysis, but returned to public life. No one outside of his family and doctors knew his health was failing. Two years later he was no longer able to stand. See Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Thomas A. Hendricks (Vice-President of the United States), p. 2728.
  50. 1 2 Gray, p. 137.
  51. 1 2 3 Gray, p. 138.
  52. Gray, p. 119, 120.
  53. Gray, p. 120, 121.
  54. Gugin and St. Clair, p. 161, 164–65.
  55. 1 2 Holcombe and Skinner, p. 388–90.
  56. Gray, p. 122, 138.
  57. Memorial, p. 6.
  58. Holcombe and Skinner, p. 390–403.
  59. Memorial, p. 31.
  60. During the last two years of his life, as his health was failing, Hendricks made plans for his eventual death and selected a burial site and monument. In the 1880s he had the remains of his only child, Morgan, who had died thirty years earlier and was buried at Shelbyville, moved to the Hendricks burial site in Indianapolis. Morgan Hendricks is buried next to the monument that marks his father's grave. See Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Thomas A. Hendricks (Vice-President of the United States), pp. 3031, and Gray, p. 124.
  61. Gray, p. 139.
  62. Memorial, p. 25.
  63. Gray, p. ix–xi; xiii–xvii.
  64. Gugin and St. Clair, p. 165.
  65. The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. "Metal Standards: Silver Certificates". The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
  66. "Thomas A. Hendricks Library: Site Assessment". Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2016-08-22. See also: Suzanne Jane McFall (1979-11-29). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Thomas A. Hendricks Library" (pdf). U.S. Department of the Interior, Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service. Retrieved 2016-08-22. In "SHAARD database" (Searchable database). Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  67. Madison, p. 166.
  68. Greif, p. 164–65.
  69. Gugin and St. Clair, p. 158.
  70. Gugin and St. Clair, p. 137.


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