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John B. Henderson

John B. Henderson
United States Senator
from Missouri
In office
January 17, 1862 – March 4, 1869
Preceded by Trusten Polk
Succeeded by Carl Schurz
Personal details
Born John Brooks Henderson
(1826-11-16)November 16, 1826
Danville, Virginia
Died April 12, 1913(1913-04-12) (aged 86)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Democrat, Unionist, Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Foote Henderson
Profession Politician, Lawyer, Teacher
Military service
Service/branch Missouri Militia
Rank Brigadier General

John Brooks Henderson (November 16, 1826 – April 12, 1913) was a United States Senator from Missouri and a co-author of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Born near Danville, Virginia, he moved with his parents to Lincoln County, Missouri, studied on his own while a farm hand, taught school, was admitted to the bar in 1844, and practiced.


  • Political career 1
  • The Kingdom of Callaway 2
  • Apocryphal Story about a Meeting with Lincoln 3
    • 13th Amendment 3.1
  • Later life 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Political career

Henderson was a member of the Missouri House of Representatives in 1848-1850 and 1856–1858, and was active in Democratic politics. He was commissioned a brigadier general in the Missouri State Militia in 1861, commanding federal forces in northeast Missouri.

On January 17, 1862 Henderson was appointed to the U.S. Senate as a Unionist to fill the vacancy caused by the expulsion of Trusten Polk. Later that year, Henderson was elected to a full six-year term in the U.S. Senate.

The Kingdom of Callaway

In 1862 Henderson signed a peace treaty with Jefferson Jones of the short-lived Kingdom of Callaway, lending that breakaway state legitimacy before federal troops invaded and ended its existence.

Apocryphal Story about a Meeting with Lincoln

According to a story circulated in the early 1900s, Henderson met with David Blanchette of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois said there is no record of any such pardon.

13th Amendment

As a United States Senator representing a slave state, Henderson co-authored and co-sponsored the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution permanently prohibiting slavery in the United States. Henderson's original proposal, made January 11, 1864 was submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and on February 10, 1864 it presented the Senate with a proposal combining the drafts of congressmen James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio), James Falconer Wilson, (Republican, Iowa), Charles Sumner (Republican, Massachusetts), and Henderson.[1]

John B. Henderson in his elder years.

On January 31, 1865 the 13th Amendment was approved by the U.S. Congress, and on February 1, 1865 it was signed by President State of Georgia on December 6, 1865.

While in the Senate, Henderson was chairman of the Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expense (Thirty-ninth Congress) and a member of the Committee on Indian Affairs (Thirty-ninth and Fortieth Congresses).

During President Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial, Henderson broke party ranks, along with six other Republican senators and voted for acquittal. These seven Republican senators were disturbed by how the proceedings had been manipulated in order to give a one-sided presentation of the evidence. Senators William Pitt Fessenden, Joseph S. Fowler, James W. Grimes, John B. Henderson, Lyman Trumbull, Peter G. Van Winkle,[2] and Edmund G. Ross of Kansas, who provided the decisive vote,[3] defied their party and public opinion and voted against impeachment. After the trial, Ben Butler conducted hearings on the widespread reports that Republican senators had been bribed to vote for Johnson's acquittal. In Butler's hearings, and in subsequent inquiries, there was increasing evidence that some acquittal votes were acquired by promises of patronage jobs and cash cards.[4]

Henderson was not a candidate for reelection to the Senate in 1868 and left the U.S. Senate on March 4, 1869.

Henderson was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Missouri and later U.S. Senator. In 1875 he was special United States attorney for prosecution of the Whiskey Ring at St. Louis. In 1877 he was appointed a commissioner to treat with hostile tribes of Indians.

Later life

Henderson moved to Washington, D.C. in 1888, was a writer, and resided in the capital until his death in 1913. Interment was in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.


  1. ^ Congressional Proposals and Senate Passage Harper Weekly. The Creation of the 13th Amendment. Retrieved February 15, 2007
  2. ^ "Andrew Johnson Trial: The Consciences of Seven Republicans Save Johnson".
  3. ^ "The Trial of Andrew Johnson, 1868".
  4. ^ David O. Stewart, Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy (2009), pp. 240-249, 284-299.


External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
Trusten Polk
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Missouri
January 17, 1862 – March 4, 1869
Served alongside: Robert Wilson, B. Gratz Brown and Charles D. Drake
Succeeded by
Carl Schurz
Honorary titles
Preceded by
James Bradbury
Most Senior Living U.S. Senator
(Sitting or Former)

January 6, 1901 – April 12, 1913
Succeeded by
William Sprague
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