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Thomas A. Hendricks

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Thomas A. Hendricks

Thomas A. Hendricks
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
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
Alma mater Hanover College
Religion Episcopalian
Signature Cursive signature in ink

Thomas Andrews Hendricks (September 7, 1819 – November 25, 1885)[2] was an American politician and lawyer from Indiana who served as the 16th Governor of Indiana (1873–1877) and the 21st Vice President of the United States (1885).

Born in Muskingum County, Ohio, Hendricks moved to Madison, in Jefferson County, Indiana, with his parents in 1820; the family settled in Shelby County, Indiana, in 1822. After graduating from Hanover College, class of 1841, Hendricks studied law in Shelbyville, Indiana, and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1843. Hendricks was a member of the Indiana General Assembly (1848–1850) and a delegate to the state constitutional convention of 1851. He represented Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives (1851–55) and the U.S. Senate (1863–69).[3] After Hendricks lost his re-election bid to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1854, President Franklin Pierce appointed him commissioner of the General Land Office (1855–59).[4][5][6] Hendricks resigned as land office commissioner in 1859, returned to Indianapolis, set up a private law practice, and ran for Indiana governor. In 1872, on his third attempt to become governor, Hendricks defeated General Thomas M. Brown. His term as governor of Indiana was marked by the economic Panic of 1873. He was opposed by a strong Republican majority in the Indiana General Assembly and was unable to enact any significant legislation.

Having defended the Democratic position in the Senate during the war, Hendricks grew in popularity within the national Democratic Party. He was the unsuccessful candidate for vice president on the Democratic ticket with Samuel Tilden in the controversial presidential election of 1876.[1] Despite his poor health, Hendricks accepted his party's nomination for vice president in the election of 1884 as Grover Cleveland's running mate. Hendricks served as vice president from March 4, 1885, until his death in Indianapolis, eight months later. He is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.


  • Early life 1
    • Childhood and family history 1.1
    • Education 1.2
    • Marriage and family 1.3
  • Early political career 2
    • Indiana legislature and constitutional convention 2.1
    • Congressman 2.2
    • Land office commissioner 2.3
    • First campaign for Indiana governor 2.4
    • Law practice 2.5
  • High office 3
    • Senator 3.1
    • Candidate for governor 3.2
    • Governor 3.3
    • Vice presidential nominee 3.4
    • Vice President, 1885 3.5
  • Death and legacy 4
  • Electoral history 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Childhood and family history

Hendricks was born in Muskingum County, Ohio, near East Fultonham and Zanesville, on September 7, 1819. He was the son of John and Jane Thomson Hendricks, who were originally from Pennsylvania and living in Ohio when Thomas was born.[3][7] He moved with his parents to Madison, in Jefferson County, Indiana, in 1820, at the urging of his uncle, William Hendricks,[7] a successful politician who became a delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, governor of Indiana (1822 to 1825), and a U.S. Senator (1825 to 1837).[3][8] Thomas's family settled on a farm near his uncle's home in Madison, but moved to Shelby County, Indiana, in 1822.[1][7] Hendricks's father was successful farmer who operated a general store and became involved in politics. President Andrew Jackson appointed John as deputy surveyor of public lands for his district.[9] The Hendricks home in Shelbyville was frequently visited by the state's leading men and from an early age Hendricks was influenced to enter politics.[1][7]


Hendricks, the second of eight children, attended Shelby County Seminary and Greensburg Academy. He pursued classical studies and graduated from Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana, with the class of 1841, the same class as fellow future-governor of Indiana, Albert G. Porter.[9][10][11] After college Hendricks read law with Judge Stephen Major in Shelbyville and took an eight-month law course at a school in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, that was operated by his uncle, Judge Alexander Thomson. Hendricks returned to Indiana, where he was admitted to the bar in 1843 and began a private law practice in Shelbyville.[11][12][13]

Marriage and family

Hendricks married Eliza C. Morgan of

  • Hendricks biography and portrait, Indiana Historical Bureau
  • Hendricks biography, Biographical Dictionary of Congress
  • Hendricks obituaries, Indiana Historic Newspaper Digitization Project

External links

  • Gray, Ralph, ed. (1977). Thomas A. Hendricks: Spokesman for the Democracy. Gentlemen from Indiana: National Party Candidates, 1836-1940 50 (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau). pp. 117–139. 
  • Gugin, Linda C., and James E. St. Clair, ed. (2006). The Governors of Indiana. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press.  
  • "Hendricks, Thomas Andrew, (1819 – 1885)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  • Holcombe, John W., and Hubert M. Skinner (1886). Life and Public Services of Thomas A. Hendricks. Indianapolis: Carlon and Hollenbeck.  (copy)
  • Memorial Addresses on the Life and Character of Thomas A. Hendricks (Vice-President of the United States): Delivered in the Senate and House of Representatives, Forty-ninth Congress, First Session. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1886. 


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Gugin, Linda C., and James E. St. Clair, ed. (2006). The Governors of Indiana. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press. p. 161.  
  2. ^ "Biography of Thomas A Hendricks". Archived from the original on October 30, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-04. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Gugin and St. Clair, p. 160.
  4. ^ a b c d Gugin and St. Clair, p. 164.
  5. ^ a b Gray, Ralph, ed. (1977). Thomas A. Hendricks: Spokesman for the Democracy. Gentlemen from Indiana: National Party Candidates, 1836-1940 50 (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau). p. 127–28. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Thomas A. Hendricks (Vice-President of the United States): Delivered in the Senate and House of Representatives, Forty-ninth Congress, First Session. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Congress. 1886. p. 21. 
  7. ^ a b c d Gray, p. 122.
  8. ^ Gray, p. 122–23.
  9. ^ a b Gray, p. 123.
  10. ^ Holcombe, John W., and Hubert M. Skinner (1886). Life and Public Services of Thomas A. Hendricks. Indianapolis: Carlon and Hollenbeck. p. 74. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gugin and St. Clair, p. 162.
  12. ^ a b Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Thomas A. Hendricks (Vice-President of the United States), p. 16.
  13. ^ Gray, p. 124.
  14. ^ Holcombe and Skinner, p. 92–93.
  15. ^ Holcombe and Skinner, p. 97.
  16. ^ Gugin and St. Clair, p. 162 and 164.
  17. ^ Holcombe and Skinner, p.109–10.
  18. ^ a b Gray, p. 127.
  19. ^ White, C. Albert;  
  20. ^ a b Gray, p. 128.
  21. ^ a b Gray, p. 129.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g Gugin, p. 163.
  23. ^ Gugin and St. Clair, p. 162–63.
  24. ^ a b Gray, p. 125.
  25. ^ Military reverses in the Civil War, some unpopular decisions in Lincoln administration, and Democratic control of the Indiana General Assembly helped Hendricks win election to the Senate. See Gray, p. 130.
  26. ^ Gray, p. 130–31.
  27. ^ a b Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Thomas A. Hendricks (Vice-President of the United States), p. 22.
  28. ^ a b Gray, p. 130.
  29. ^ Gray, p. 132.
  30. ^ Three of the four men (Lane, Morton, and Hendricks) eventually served as Indiana's governor; all four became U.S. senators. See Gray, p. 129.
  31. ^ Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Thomas A. Hendricks (Vice-President of the United States), p. 23–24.
  32. ^ a b Gray, p. 134.
  33. ^ a b c Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Thomas A. Hendricks (Vice-President of the United States), p. 24.
  34. ^ a b Gray, p. 135.
  35. ^ Gray p. 122 and 135.
  36. ^ Gugin and St. Clair, p. 163–64.
  37. ^ Gray, p. 136.
  38. ^ Holcombe and Skinner, p. 308.
  39. ^ Gugin and St. Clair, p. 164–65.
  40. ^ In 1880, while on a visit to Hot Springs, Arkansas, Hendricks suffered a bout of paralysis, but kept it quiet and returned to public life. No one outside of his family and doctors knew his health was failing, but 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. 27–28.
  41. ^ Gray, p. 137.
  42. ^ a b Gray, p. 138.
  43. ^ Gray, p. 119–20.
  44. ^ Gray, p. 120–21.
  45. ^ Gugin and St. Clair, p. 161 and 164.
  46. ^ Holcombe and Skinner, p. 388–390.
  47. ^ a b Gugin and St. Clair, p. 165.
  48. ^ Gray, p. 122 and 138.
  49. ^ Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Thomas A. Hendricks (Vice-President of the United States), p. 6.
  50. ^ Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Thomas A. Hendricks (Vice-President of the United States), p. 31.
  51. ^ 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, who had died thirty years earlier and was buried at Shelbyville, moved to the Hendricks burial site in Indianapolis and reinterred next to the monument that marks Hendricks's grave. See Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Thomas A. Hendricks (Vice-President of the United States), p. 30–31, and Gray, p. 124.
  52. ^ The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. "Metal Standards: Silver Certificates". The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  53. ^ Gugin and St. Clair, p. 158.
  54. ^ Gugin and St. Clair, p. 137.


See also

Indiana gubernatorial election, 1860[54]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Henry S. Lane 139,675 51.8
Democratic Thomas A. Hendricks 129,968 48.2
Indiana gubernatorial election, 1868[53]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Conrad Baker 171,575 50.1
Democratic Thomas A. Hendricks 170,614 49.9
Indiana gubernatorial election, 1872[22]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Thomas A. Hendricks 189,242 50.1
Republican Thomas M. Browne 188,276 49.9

Electoral history

Hendricks was among 11 presidential and vice-presidential candidates from Indiana in the period 1868-1916, when Indiana was a critical swing state in national politics.[47]

The largest statue on the grounds of the Indiana state capitol building is of Thomas Hendricks. The statue is located on the south-east corner of the grounds.

Hendricks remains the only Vice President whose portrait appears on U.S. paper currency. An engraved portrait of Hendricks is on the "tombstone" $10 silver certificate of 1886. The nickname for the currency note derives from the tombstone-shaped border outlining Hendricks's portrait.[52]

Hendricks died unexpectedly during a trip home to Indianapolis on November 25, 1885.[48][49] He complained of feeling ill the morning before his death and went to bed early. He died in his sleep that night. His funeral was large, with a ceremony held in St. Paul's Cathedral in Indianapolis, and attended by President Cleveland and dignitaries from across the nation. Hendricks is interred in Indianapolis's Crown Hill Cemetery.[50][51]

Hendricks depicted on a Series 1908 $10 silver certificate.

Death and legacy

Hendricks, who had been in poor health for several years, served the last eight months of his life, from his inauguration on March 4 until his death on November 25, 1885, as Vice President of the United States.[42][45] Following Hendricks's death, the vice presidency remained vacant until 1889, when Levi Morton assumed office.[46][47]

Vice President, 1885

Hendricks attended the Democratic Party's national convention in Chicago in 1884, as chairman of the Indiana delegation, and was nominated for vice-president of the United States by unanimous vote.[43] Grover Cleveland was the party's presidential nominee in 1884. The Democratic Party's strategy was to win Cleveland's home state of New York and Hendricks's home state of Indiana, plus the electoral votes of the Solid South. Democrats narrowly won New York, but Hendricks carried Indiana. The Cleveland-Hendricks ticket won two more northern states plus the Solid South to secure the election.[44]

Hendricks ran as an unsuccessful candidate for vice president on the Democratic ticket with New York governor Samuel Tilden in the disputed presidential election of 1876. Hendricks did not attend the Democratic convention in St. Louis, when Tilden became the party's nominee for president, but the Indiana delegation urged Hendricks to consider running as the vice presidential candidate; he agreed and was nominated unanimously. The Democratic Party's strategy to win the election was to carry the two key states of the nominees, New York and Indiana, plus the Solid South. Tilden and Hendricks received the majority of the popular vote,[41] but lost in electoral balloting to the Republicans, Rutherford B. Hayes and William A. Wheeler. With twenty electoral votes in dispute, a fifteen-member Electoral Commission, which included five persons each from the House, Senate, and Supreme Court, was created to determine the outcome. The commission made its decisions, each one by and 8 to 7 party line vote, awarding all the disputed votes from the southern states of South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida to the Republican candidates, who won the election. 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.[42]

Hendricks ran for vice president of the United States on the Democratic Party's ticket in 1876 and 1884; he was elected in 1884.[39] The Democratic Party nominated Hendricks for the vice presidency in 1880, but he declined for health reasons.[1][40]

The tomb of Thomas Hendricks in Indianapolis, Indiana
Campaign poster for the election of 1876.

Vice presidential nominee

Hendricks succeeded in encouraging legislation to enact election reform, in response to accusations of corruption in the last election, and judiciary reform. Otherwise, his term as governor was uneventful; he was unable to come to terms with the legislature. His other legislation, including appropriations bills, was delayed or never passed.[38]

During his tenure as governor, Hendricks began the debate to build a new Indiana Statehouse. The existing structure, which had been in use since 1835, had become too small. The growing government had to rent buildings around Indianapolis to house government offices. Besides its size, the dilapidated building was in need of repairs. The roof in the Hall of Representatives had collapsed in 1867 and the building was condemned by public inspectors in 1873. After he left office, Hendricks delivered the keynote speech when the cornerstone for the new statehouse was laid in 1880.[4] The building was completed eight years later and is still in use.[37]

Hendricks signed the Baxter bill in 1873, which put in place controversial temperance legislations that established a strict form of local option, even though he personally had favored a licensing law. Hendricks thought the bill was constitutional and reflected the majority in the Indiana General Assembly and the will of the people of Indiana. The law proved to be unenforceable and was repealed in 1875; it was replaced by a licensing system that Hendricks preferred.[22][34]

Hendricks served as governor of Indiana from January 13, 1873, to January 8, 1877,[33] a difficult period of post-war depression following the Panic of 1873 that led to a major economic downturn in the state, with 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. The miners and railroad workers were unhappy with large wage cuts. The militia was used to protect strikebreakers, who continued operations until the strikers gave up.[1]

Hendricks inherited a state government that was almost exclusively run by Republicans and had been under almost continual Republican control for twenty years. He found himself regularly at odds with the Republican controlled legislature, who prevented him from achieving many of his legislative goals.


In his third attempt, Hendricks was elected as the governor of Indiana in 1872, defeating the Republican candidate, General Thomas M. Browne, a Civil War veteran, former state senator, and former U.S. attorney, with 189,424 votes to 188,276; a narrow margin of 1,148 votes.[33][35][36]

In his second campaign for governor, in 1868, Hendricks lost to the incumbent, Conrad Baker, by 961 votes.[31][32] Baker, who would later become one of his law partners, was elected as lieutenant governor in 1864 and became governor after Oliver P. Morton was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1867. In the national election Ulysses S. Grant and his running mate, Schuyler Colfax of Indiana, carried the state by a margin of more than 20,000 votes, suggesting the close race for governor demonstrated Hendricks’s popularity in Indiana.[32] Following his loss in the race for Indiana governor, Hendricks retired from the Senate in March 1869 and returned to his private law practice in Indianapolis, but remained connected to state and national politics.[22][33] During the presidential election of 1872, the Democrats supported and subsequently nominated the Liberal Republican candidate, Horace Greeley. When 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.[34]

In 1860 Hendricks ran as the Democratic candidate for governor of Indiana, with David Turpie as his running mate.[20] Hendricks and Turpie lost to the Republican Party candidates, Henry S. Lane and Oliver P. Morton.[6][11][21] Lane beat Hendricks by nearly 10,000 votes.[30]

Hendricks ran for governor of Indiana three times, in 1860, 1868, and 1872; he won on his third attempt.

Candidate for governor

Hendricks's views were often misinterpreted by his political opponents in Indiana.[28] When the Indiana General Assembly was re-taken by the Republicans in 1868, the year Hendricks's term expired, he was not reelected to a second term and Republican Congressman-elect Daniel D. Pratt took over Hendricks's Senate seat.[22]

Hendricks opposed reconstruction after the Civil War, arguing that the southern states had never been out of the Union and were therefore entitled to congressional representation. He also maintained Congress had no authority to reconstruct state governments if they had never left the Union.[27] 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.[3] Hendricks felt it was not the right time, so soon after the Civil War, to make fundamental changes to the Constitution. While Hendricks supported freedom for African Americans, stating, "He is free; now let him remain free",[29] he opposed Radical Republicanism.[3] Hendricks also opposed President Andrew Johnson's removal from office following his impeachment in the House of Representatives.[1]

In 1862 the Indiana General Assembly elected Hendricks to the U.S. Senate during the American Civil War.[22][25] Hendricks spent six years in the Senate (1863 to 1869), covering the Thirty-eighth, Thirty-ninth, and Fortieth Congresses, as leader of its small Democratic minority and a member of the opposition who was often overruled.[4][26][27] He challenged passage of what he thought was radical legislation. Hendricks opposed the military draft and issuing greenbacks; however, he supported the Union and prosecution of the war, consistently voting in favor of appropriations.[3][28]


High office

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

In 1862 Hendricks established a law firm with Oscar B. Hord in Indianapolis and practiced there until he was elected by the Indiana General Assembly to the U.S. Senate in 1863.[22] The Hendricks and Hord law firm was renamed Hendricks, Hord, and Hendricks in 1866, after Abram W. Hendricks joined the firm. In 1873 the firm became Baker, Hord, and Hendricks, when Conrad Baker, the outgoing governor of Indiana joined the firm and Hendricks succeeded Baker as governor.[23][24] The firm of Baker, Hort, and Hendricks was passed to Baker's son who took a new partner, Edward Daniels, and renamed the firm Baker & Daniels in 1888; it grew into one of the leading law firms in the United States.[22][24]

Law practice

In 1860 Hendricks moved to Indianapolis and campaigned as the Democratic candidate for governor of Indiana, but lost to the Republican candidate, Henry S. Lane.[11][21]

First campaign for Indiana governor

Hendricks resigned as land office commissioner in 1859 and returned to Shelby County, Indiana.[6] The cause of his departure was not recorded; however, possible 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.[20]

In 1855 President Franklin Pierce appointed Hendricks as commissioner of the General Land Office in Washington, D.C.[6][11] His job was a demanding one, with 180 clerks under his supervision and a 4-year backlog of work, at a time when the government was going through one of its largest periods of land sales in history.[11] During his tenure at the land office, 400,000 land patents were issued and 20,000 disputed land cases were settled. Hendricks made thousands of decisions related to disputed land claims, with few ever reversed in court,[5] 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."[19]

Land office commissioner

Hendricks ran for Congress in 1850 and was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-second and Thirty-third Congresses, serving from March 4, 1851, to March 4, 1855.[4][6][18] Hendricks was chairman of the Committee on Mileage (Thirty-second Congress) and served on the 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 United States, positions which were unpopular in Hendricks's home district and led to defeat in his re-election to Congress in 1854.[11][18]


Hendricks was a Shelby County delegate to the Indiana constitutional convention in 1851, where he was part of the committee that created the organization of the state's townships and counties, decided on the taxation and financial portion of the constitution, and debated the clauses on the powers of the different offices. He argued in favor of a powerful judiciary and the abolishment of grand juries.[11][17]

Hendricks began his political career in 1848 as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives, after defeating Whig candidate Martin M. Ray. He served a one-year term and was speaker of the house.[15] Hendricks remained active in law and politics until his death, thirty-seven years later.[12][16]

Indiana legislature and constitutional convention

Early political career

Also, there is a portrait of Thomas A. Hendricks and a portrait of Eliza C. Morgan at Hanover College in Madison, Indiana. The portraits are located in the Hendricks Library that Eliza had built after Thomas' death. The library also offers a splendid view high above the Ohio River.

The Bates-Hendricks House where the family lived from 1865 to 1872 is open for tours in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is located about a mile and a half south of the city's Monument Circle in Indianapolis at 1526 S. New Jersey Street ( call 317-684-1888 to set up a tour).


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