Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vice Presidents

Seal of the Vice President

If I would offer a word of advice to anyone who sets out to complete their own collection of Presidential Gravesites, it would be this. As you map out the final resting places of the Presidents, go ahead and map out the final resting places of the Vice Presidents while you are at it. Most of the friends that I have made online who share this interest have eventually started collecting Vice Presidents as well. And I am no expection. I only say this so that you may avoid covering the same ground twice. I passed in close proximity to many VP's gravesite on some of my early trips that I will now need to return sometime.

I started looking into the VP's about a year into this hobby. Around early to mid 2010. Current VP Joe Biden is the 47th VP. 6 are still alive which leaves 41 Vice Presidential Gravesite to visit. As far as Presidents go, I am fortunate to live in a state where 5 of them are buried. Vice Presidents were a little different. None are in my home state. One perk is that 14 VP's (John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Geoge Bush) have gone on to be President themselves. George Bush is the only one still alive. And 2 of them: Andrew Johnson and Theodore Roosevelt (note that I will be visiting Andrew Johnson next week and TR in June)are among the 4 Presidential Gravesites that I still need to see. So I have 11 of them already.

#5 Elbridge Gerry (1744 - 1814)

Vice President under James Madison from 1813 - 1814

The first non President VP gravesite that I visited was that of Elbridge Gerry in Congressional Cemtery, Washington DC in July 2010. I went to DC for the weekend to see my nephew in the Boy Scout parade and did alot of backpacking around DC. We visited Congessional Cemtery first thing on that Sunday morning. I really enjoyed it. Gerry is buried just a stones throw from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Lincoln assassination co conspirator David Herald. We also saw Civl War photographer Matthew Brady there. Gerry was James Madisons 2nd Vice President, and also James Madisons 2nd Vice President to die in office. Back then when a vacancy occurred in the Vice Presidency (threw the death of the VP or the death of the President, moving the VP to President), it was simply left vacant. It wasn't until the the 25th Amendment was ratified in 1967 that there wasn't allowed to be a vacancy in the Vice Presidency. This is how both Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller became VP.

Headstone of Vice President and Signer of the Declaration of Independence Elbridge Gerry.

Elbridge Gerry and I. Washington DC

My March 2011 western trip left a great chance to add to my VP collection, while collecting some of my last few Presidents. I set out to see the Libraries and gravesites of Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Hoover. I noticed that along the way I could easily pick up 6 VP's.

#31 Charles Curtis (1860-1936)

                                       Vice President under Herbert Hoover from 1929 - 1933

The first was Charles Curtis, in Topeka, Kansas. Right along the path from Presidents Truman to Eisenhower. Curtis was VP under Herbert Hoover and is the only person of American Indian descent to hold such a high political office.

Vice President Charles Curtis gravestone

Charles Curtis and I. Topeka, KS.

#33 Henry Wallace (1888-1965)
                                  Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1941 - 1945
The next day I was traveling through Iowa on the way to the Hoover Library. We made a stop in Des Moines, Iowa to see the gravesite of VP Henry Wallace. Wallace was the 2nd of FDR's 3 Vice Presidents. As VP during FDR's 3rd term he was very close to being President, but when FDR ran for a 4th term in 1944, he dropped Wallace from the ticket and chose Harry Truman as his running mate. Just a few months later FDR was dead, and Truman was Presdent. Wallace had been serving (demoted?) as Secrectery of Commerce in FDR's 4th term and into the Truman administration.

Wallace gravesite

Henry Wallace and I. Des Moines, Iowa

#23 Adlai Stevenson I (1835-1914)
                                    Vice President under Grover Cleveland from 1893 - 1897

The 4th and final day of the trip brought 4 more VP's as we were heading home. The first was that of Adlai Stevenson I in Bloomington, IL. Stevenson was VP during Grover Cleveland's 2nd non consecutive term. Buried near Stevenson was his grandson Adlai Stevenson II. The younger Stevenson ran for President against Eisenhower twice and was Ambassador of the U. N. during the Kennedy administration.

Adlai Stevenson and I. Bloomington, IL

The next 3 VP's I got in one place. Crown Hill Cemetery Indianapolis, IN. President Benjamin Harrison is also buried here. But when I visited his gravesite in May 2009, I hadn't done my homework and didn't realise that 3 VP's and outlaw John Dillinger were also buried there. This demanded a revisit.

#28 Thomas R. Marshall (1854-1925)
                                   Vice President under Woodrow Wilson from 1913 - 1921
The first VP we came to in Crown Hill Cemetery was that of Thomas Marshall. Marshall was VP under Woodrow Wilson. Towards the end of Wilson's 2 terms, Wilson suffered a stroke. He lived out the rest of his term in a questionable condition. Mrs. Wilson didn't allow very many visitors. Marshall probably could of pushed the issue and assumed the Presidency, considering that Wilson probably wasn't physically capable of fulfilling his Presidential duries. But he let Mrs. Wilson do her thing and now many think that she was in fact, our first female President.

Thomas Marshall and I. Indianapolis, IN

#26 Charles Fairbanks (1852-1918)

                                Vice President under Theodore Roosevelt from 1905 - 1909
The next 2 VP's in Crown Hill are just a stones throw from each other across the pavement. Charles Fairbanks was VP under Theodore Roosevelt. He was also the nephew of President Rutherford B. Hayes. Fairbanks sought the Republican nomination for President in 1912, but TR supported William H. Taft over him. In 1916 he ran for VP on the Republican ticket with Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes. But the Hughes Fairbanks ticket was beaten by the Woodrow Wilson Thomas Marshall re election campaign.

Charles Fairbanks and I. Indianapolis, IN

#21 Thomas A. Hendricks (1819-1885)

                      Vice President under Grover Cleveland from March 1885 - November 1885
Thomas Hendricks was the 6th and final VP of the trip, 3rd and final in Crown Hill. Hendricks was Grover Clevelands first VP. Unfortunatly he died just 8 months into his term. He was also VP nominee under Samuel Tilden in 1876 when they lost a controvisial election to Rutherford B. Hayes.

Thomas Hendricks and I. Indianapolis, IN

In late 2011 and early 2012 I was planning a trip for March that would incorperate Andrew Johnson's home and grave. Eventually I came up with the idea to swing through TN seeing Johnson sites and revisit sites in Nashville, as well as some new. Then catch some sites in KY on the way home. After awhile I decided that most of the KY sites could be seen on a day trip or over the weekend. So I shifted the trip towards St. Louis for a day after Nashville. And I will be doing that trip next week.

The chance to pick up the loose ends that I would of seen on that trip came sooner then expected. In late February we made a last minute trip to northern KY that would allow me to see 2 more VP's.

#14 John C. Breckinridge (1821-1875)
                                     Vice President under James Buchanan from 1857 - 1861
The first was John C. Brekinridge in Lexington, KY. Also buried in Lexinton Cemetery is Henry Clay, Actor Jim Varney and the Todd family (Abraham Lincoln's in laws). Brekinridge was VP under James Buchanen, and at age 36, is still the youngest person to hold the office of Vice President.

Without this sign, his unassuming marker would be tough to find.

John C. Brekinridge and I. Lexington, KY

#9 Richard Mentor Johnson (1780-1850)
                                    Vice President under Martin Van Buren from 1837 - 1841
It was a short half hour drive or so from Lexington to our next VP in Frankfort, KY.VP Richard M. Johnson in buried in Frankfort Cemtery along with Daniel Boone. Johnson was VP under Martin Van Buren. He was also a Colonel under General William Henry Harrison during the Battle of the Thames. In this battle, some have claimed that Johnson himself, killed Shawnee Indian Chief Tecumseh.

My daughter Khloe and I, and Richard Mentor Johnson. Frankfort, KY

I suppose that is it for now. As I see more VP's I will make more posts. I hope to see one more next week in western KY. And then I plan on seeing several more when I head to NY, NJ and Philadelphia in June.