Schuyler Colfax: Wikis


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Schuyler Colfax

In office
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1873
President Ulysses S. Grant
Preceded by Andrew Johnson
Succeeded by Henry Wilson

In office
December 7, 1863 – March 3, 1869
President Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson
Preceded by Galusha A. Grow
Succeeded by Theodore M. Pomeroy

Member of U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1855 – March 3, 1869
Preceded by Norman Eddy
Succeeded by John P. C. Shanks

Born March 23, 1823 (1823-03-23)
New York City, New York
Died January 13, 1885 (1885-01-14) (aged 61)
Mankato, Minnesota
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Evelyn Clark Colfax
Ellen Maria Wade Colfax
Children Schuyler Colfax III

Schuyler Colfax, Jr. (pronounced /ˈskaɪlər ˈkoʊlfæks/; born March 23, 1823 – died January 13, 1885) was a U.S. Representative from Indiana, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the 17th Vice President of the United States.

President Ulysses S. Grant and Colfax, 46 and 45 respectively at the time of their inauguration, were the youngest Presidential team until the inauguration of Bill Clinton and Al Gore in 1993.[1]



Vice President Schuyler Colfax

Colfax was born in New York City to Schuyler Colfax, Sr. (d. October 30, 1822, of tuberculosis) and Hannah Stryker. His grandfather, William Colfax, had served in George Washington's Life Guard during the American Revolution, became a general in the New Jersey militia and married Hester Schuyler, a cousin of general Philip Schuyler.

In 1836, Colfax moved with his mother and stepfather to New Carlisle, Indiana. As a young man, Colfax contributed articles on Indiana politics to the New York Tribune and formed a friendship with the editor, Horace Greeley. He established a reputation as rising young Whig and at 19 became the editor of the pro-Whig South Bend Free Press. In 1845, Colfax purchased the newspaper and changed its name to the St. Joseph Valley Register.

Whig Party delegate

Colfax was a delegate to the Whig Party Convention of 1848 and the Indiana Constitutional Convention of 1849. He was a member of the state constitutional convention in 1850. Colfax was nominated for Congress in 1850, but narrowly lost to his Democratic opponent. He ran again two years later, this time successfully,[2] in 1854 as an Anti-Nebraska candidate in opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The same year, Colfax was initiated as a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at DePauw University, without ever having attending that (or any) university.[3]

Republican party

When the Whig Party collapsed, Colfax briefly considered the Know-Nothing Party, but finally joined the new Republican Party that was formed as a fusion of northern Whigs, Anti-Nebraska Act Democrats, Know Nothings, and Free Soilers. After the Republicans gained the majority in the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections of 1858, Colfax became chairman of the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads. He was an energetic opponent of slavery and his speech attacking the pro-slavery Lecompton Legislature in Kansas became the most widely requested Republican campaign document in the election. In 1862, following the electoral defeat of House Speaker Galusha Grow, Colfax was elected Speaker of the House.[2] During his term as Speaker, he announced the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.

Vice Presidency under Ulysses S. Grant

In 1868 Colfax was elected Vice President of the United States on the ticket headed by Ulysses S. Grant.[2] He was inaugurated March 4, 1869, and served until March 4, 1873. Colfax was an unsuccessful candidate for renomination for vice presidency in 1872 and was replaced by Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson. Colfax had been involved in the Crédit Mobilier of America scandal and left office under a cloud.[2][4]

Personal life

On October 10, 1844, Colfax married childhood friend Evelyn Clark. She died childless in 1863. On November 18, 1868, two weeks after he was elected vice president, Colfax married Ella M. Wade, a niece of Senator Benjamin Franklin Wade. They had one son, Schuyler Colfax III, born in 1870.

Last years

After leaving office, Colfax embarked on a successful career as a lecturer. On January 13, 1885, he walked about three-quarters of a mile in minus 30˚F weather from the Front Street depot to the Omaha depot in Mankato, Minnesota. He had to change trains in Mankato to reach Rock Rapids, Iowa, going from South Bend via Chicago for a speaking engagement.[5] Five minutes after arriving at the depot, Colfax died of a heart attack brought on by the extreme cold and exhaustion.[6]

He was buried in the City Cemetery at South Bend, Indiana.[7] A historical marker in Mankato in Washington Park, site of the former depot, marks the spot where he died.


The towns of Colfax, California; Colfax, Washington; Colfax, Indiana; Colfax, Iowa and Colfax, Louisiana, are named for Schuyler Colfax. The "Jewel of the Midwest", Schuyler, Nebraska, named after Colfax, is the county seat of Colfax County, Nebraska. The now ghost town of Colfax, Colorado, was named after him. Colfax County, New Mexico, is named after the Speaker as well. In addition, the "main street" traversing Aurora, Denver and Lakewood, Colorado, and abutting the Colorado State Capitol is named "Colfax Avenue" in the politician's honor.

There is another Colfax Avenue in South Bend, Indiana (a few miles east of his New Carlisle home); in Grant City, Staten Island; in Minneapolis, Minnesota; in Roselle Park, New Jersey; and a Colfax Avenue on Chicago's Southeast Side. There is a Colfax Street leading up Mt. Colfax in Springdale, Pennsylvania, and a Colfax Avenue in Benton Harbor, Michigan, where the school fight song contains the phrase "of that Colfax school" because the high school is located on Colfax. There is also a Colfax Avenue in Concord, California. Colfax, California boasts a bronze statue of Colfax, it stands next to the tracks at the AMTRAK station.


  • Hollister, Ovando James. Life of Schuyler Colfax. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.  

See also


  2. ^ a b c d Bain, David Haward (2004). The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West. New York City, New York: Penguin Books. pp. 65–6. ISBN 0143035266.  
  3. ^ Brylski, S. (Winter 2008). "The Pleasantest Hours of All". The Beta Theta Pi Magazine. Retrieved August 2, 2008.  
  4. ^ Brinkley, Alan (2008). The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People (5th edition ed.). New York City, New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 409. ISBN 978-0-07-330702-2.  
  5. ^ Hollister, 1886.
  6. ^ "Schuyler Colfax Dead", The New York Times, January 14, 1885, p. 1.
  7. ^ Political Graveyard

External links

Political offices
Title last held by
Andrew Johnson(1)
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1869–March 4, 1873
Succeeded by
Henry Wilson
Preceded by
Galusha A. Grow
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
December 7, 1863 – March 4, 1869
Succeeded by
Theodore Medad Pomeroy
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Norman Eddy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 9th congressional district

March 4, 1855 – March 4, 1869
Succeeded by
John P. C. Shanks
Party political offices
Preceded by
Andrew Johnson(1)
Republican Party Vice Presidential candidate
Succeeded by
Henry Wilson
Notes and references
1. Lincoln and Johnson ran on the National Union ticket in 1864.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SCHUYLER COLFAX (1823-1885), American political leader, vice-president of the United States from 1869 to 1873, was born in New York city on the 23rd of March 1823. His father died before the son's birth, and his mother subsequently married a Mr Matthews. The son attended the public schools of New York until he was ten, and then became a clerk in his step-father's store, removing in 1836 with his mother and step-father to New Carlisle, Indiana. In 1841 he removed to South Bend, where for eight years he was deputy auditor (his step-father being auditor) of St Joseph (disambiguation)|Joseph county; in1842-1844he was assistant enrolling clerk of the state senate and senate reporter for the Indiana State Journal. In 1845 he established the St Joseph Valley Register, which he published for eighteen years and made an influential Whig and later Republican journal. In 1850 he was a member of the state constitutional convention, and in 1854 took an active part in organizing the "Anti-Nebraska men" (later called Republicans) of his state, and was by them sent to Congress. Here he served with distinction from 1855 until 1869, the last six years as speaker of the House. At the close of the Civil War he was a leading member of the radical wing of the Republican party, advocating the disfranchisement of all who had been prominent in the service of the Confederacy, and declaring that "loyalty must govern what loyalty has preserved." In 1868 he had presidential aspirations, and was not without supporters. He accepted, however, the Republican nomination as vice-president on a ticket headed by General Grant, and was elected; but he failed in 1872 to secure renomination. During the political campaign of 1872 he was accused, with other prominent politicians, of being implicated in corrupt transactions with the Credit Mobilier, and a congressional investigation brought out the fact that he had agreed to take twenty shares from this concern, and had received dividends amounting to $1200. It also leaked out during the investigation that he had received in 1868, as a campaign contribution, a gift of $4000 from a contractor who had supplied the government with envelopes while Colfax was chairman of the post office committee of the House. At the close of his term Colfax returned to private life under a cloud, and during the remainder of his lifetime earned a livelihood by delivering popular lectures. He died at Mankato, Minnesota, on the 13th of January 1885.

See J. C. Hollister's Life of Schuyler Colfax (New York, 1886).

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