|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
Thomas Hendricks (September 7, 1819 – November 25, 1885)
The son of John and Jane Thomson Hendricks, Thomas was native to Zanesville, Ohio. The family moved to Indiana, first to Madison in 1820, then to Shelbyville in 1822. After becoming a successful farmer, John Hendricks became involved in politics, eventually gaining President Andrew Jackson's appointment as deputy surveyor. Thomas became exposed to politics at an early age, as many important political figures often visited the farm.
Education, Law and Politics
After attending Shelby County Seminary and Greensburg Academy, Hendricks graduated from Hanover College near Madison in 1841. He gained admittance to the Indiana bar in 1843 and opened a practice in Shelbyville. He won election to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1848 and would remain an active politician until dying as Vice President of the United States in 1885.
Later Political Life
A Democrat, Hendricks won election to the United States House of Representatives in 1850, serving there until 1855. The Democrats nominated him as governor in 1860, but he lost the election to Henry S. Lane, who would resign after two days in office to serve in the United States Senate. Oliver P. Morton took over as governor. Hendricks would run for governor two more times, finally winning in 1872, becoming the first Democratic governor elected in the North after the Civil War. In the intervening years, the Indiana legislature elected him to serve in the United States Senate in 1862. His term as governor was largely uneventful, as he constantly battled the Republican legislature. He did propose, and have constructed, a new Capitol during his term.
During these years, Indiana was a pivotal swing state in national elections. The Democrats nominated him twice for the Vice Presidency, the first time in 1876. That run was unsuccessful. The Democrats nominated him again in 1880, but he declined the offer because of ill health. The 1884 bid was successful and he gained election as Vice President to Grover Cleveland. Hendricks would die unexpectedly while visiting Indianapolis on November 25, 1885.
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