Saturday, July 25, 2015

Vice Presidents 4

    Over the course of the last year, one by one, I've been able to cross off 4 Vice Presidents graves from the list. So I figured that it was time to catch them up on here. 

                  #7 John C. Calhoun
Vice President under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson from 1825 - 1832

    My wife and I visited the grave of John C. Calhoun in June of 2014. It was our 10th wedding anniversary and so we took a trip to Myrtle Beach. Before we got to Myrtle Beach I worked in a nice day in Charleston.  We hit Ft. Sumter first. Then walked around the city stopping at some street market places, and then some old church cemeteries. Along with Calhoun we visited the gravesites of several Signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. 

     Calhoun is probably the most well-known of the Vice Presidents that I've collected over the last year. Along with Henry Clay and Daniel Webster he was part of the Triumvirate. In this he represented the South while Clay represented the West and Webster the North. They were 3 powerful Senators in an era of mostly weak Presidents. I go into more detail about the Triumvirate in a recent post. 

     Calhoun served in the House of Represenatives and Senate as a Represenative from South Carolina. He also served as Secretary of War under James Monroe, and later as Secretary of State under John Tyler. 

    Calhoun is only one of 2 VPs to serve 2 Presidents, along with George Clinton who served under both Jefferson and Madison. And after a rough patch with Andrew Jackson in which Jackson threatened to hang him, he became the first of 2 Presidents to resign. The second  being Spiro Agnew. 

     His name was synonymous with the pro slavery standpoint in pre Civil War America. If the inevitable Civil War had taken place in his lifetime, he surely would if been the Confederates first President. But instead he died in Washington DC in 1850. A decade before the War. 

                  VP Calhoun and I

                #17 Schuyler Colfax

Vice President under Ulysses S. Grant from 1869 - 1873

   Things were very busy at work in the summer of 2014. So much so I had to work every Saturday for a couple of months. So I was really itching for a Saturday off to take a day trip. The opportunity came one Saturday in July. My wife had to work. So I packed all three kids up and got a very early start and headed for Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

    We hit the Gerald Ford Museum and a few of Gerald Ford's boyhood homes. Then we headed south along Lake Michigan,  stopped at a beach for a while and then continued south to South Bend Indiana. It was in South Bend that we found the gravesite Vice President Colfax fairly easily. 

    A former newspaper man, Colfax joined the U. S. House of Represenatives in 1855. In 1863 he became Speaker of the House, a position he held until he became Vice President in 1869. 

    If you've seen Steven Speilbergs "Lincoln". Colfax makes an appearance. He was Speaker in 1865 during the vote on the 13th Amendment. There's a scene where he insist on casting a vote (which is something the Speaker usually didn't do). 

    When the Grant Colfax ticket won in 1868 they were the youngest winning ticket (46 and 45) until Clinton Gore in 1992. Colfax is also one of only 2 people in American History to serve as both Speaker of the House and Vice President. The other one being FDRs first VP John Nance Garner. 

   When Grant ran for reelection in 1872, he dropped Colfax from the ticket because he had gotten caught up in a corruption scandal.  

    After leaving office Colfax worked as a lecturer. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1885. 

                   VP Colfax and I

               #30 Charles G. Dawes

Vice President under Calvin Coolidge from 1925 - 1929

     For a long time I had been gathering information on a trip to Chicago. There are several points of interest there for me. As 2014 came to a close I had some vacation days to use up. Which gave me the chance for a day trip to Chicago a couple days before New Years. 

    In Chicago we visited several Obama sites including his house, the Tomb of Stephen Douglas, gravesite of Jesse Owens and of course the gravesite of VP. Dawes. We ended the day with some Giordanos deep dish pizza. It made for a really great day! 

    Dawes owned a couple of gas companies and had a reputation as a distinguished businessman. This caught the attention of republican party leaders who in 1896 asked Dawes to run the McKinley campaign in Illinois. This is what started his political career. 

    When McKinley won the election he awarded Dawes with a job at the treasury department. Dawes left the treasury department in 1901 to run for a U.S. Senate seat. Dawes counted on the support of President McKinley. But once McKinley was assassinated the new President Theodore Roosevelt supported Dawes opponent. 

    In World War I Dawes was a Brigadier General. In 1921 President Harding appointed Dawes as the first Director of the Bureau of the Budget. His work at this job earned him a shared Nobel Peace Prize in 1925 for helping Germany restore their economy. 

    In the election of 1924 Coolidge had picked, and been rejected by two other VP choices before he got to ask Dawes. As VP he didn't get along very well with President Coolidge or the U.S. Senate. After he left office he served as Ambassador to England and later worked in the banking business until his death in 1951. 


                   VP Dawes and I

               #13 William R. King

Vice President under Franklin Pierce from March 4, 1853 - April 18, 1853

     In March 2015 we made a trip down to Disney World in Florida. Since on our last trip to Disney back in 2013 we hit a bunch of sites in Georgia, I decided that we would go a little out-of-the-way through Alabama this time around. 

    So on our way we drove through the night and arrived in Selma, Alabama early in the morning. Our first stop was Vice President King's gravesite. Now I've been in a lot of cemeteries but this one was hand down the most scenic with all the live oak trees. After Selma we stopped in Montgomery and saw the first Confederate Capital Building and  White House. We also stopped by the gravesite of Hank Williams. Then we made a stop in Tuskegee where we toured George Washington Carver's laboratory. We also found Carver's gravesite and as well as Booker T. Washingtons. After that we made one last stop revisiting Plains, Georgia for some peanut butter ice cream. 

      King came from a wealthy Southern family. He had a long political career serving in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. While in the Senate he earned the position of President pro tempore during the Fillmore administration. Since Fillmore had no Vice President this meant that King was second in line to the presidency for a while. He also served as Minister to France during the Tyler administration. 

    He is probably best known for his long personal friendship with James Buchanan. They lived together in Washington for many years. Which wasn't terribly uncommon for single men to do back then. However there's a lot of speculation that King and Buchanan were gay. Even Andrew Jackson was known to imply this rumor. And some of James Buchanan's letters that were found seem to imply this also. We can never know for sure since some of the terminology that was used in the 1840s and 50s may not mean exactly what they do today. 

     In the election of 1852 King was elected Vice President under Franklin Pierce. As Inauguration Day approached King became very sick with tuberculosis. In an effort to get better he traveled to Cuba. This resulted in King being the only Vice President to be inaugurated on foreign soil. 

      Shortly after,  King made it back to his home in Selma Alabama. But not for long. He died at home on April 18, 1853 only about 45 days after taking office. So as Vice President he never actually made it to Washington to preside over the Senate or to fill any of his other VP duties. 

                    VP King and I

      That's all of them for now. I now have five Vice Presidents left.   

Daniel Tompkins New York, NY

John Nance Garner Uvalde, Texas

Hubert Humphrey  Minneapolis, Minnesota

Spiro Agnew, Timmoniom, Maryland 

Nelson Rockefeller Sleepy Hollow, New York

    I have no immediate plans on which one will be next, as always time will tell.