Schuyler Colfax

Schuyler Colfax Brief Biography

Schuyler Colfax Jr. (March 23, 1823 - January 13, 1885) was a journalist, businessman, and politician from Indiana. He served as a United States Representative (1855-69), Speaker of the House of Representatives (1863-69), and the 17th Vice President of the United States (1869-73). To date, he is one of only two Americans (John Nance Garner is the other) to have served as both House speaker and vice president.

Colfax was known for his opposition to slavery while serving in Congress, and was a founder of the Republican Party. In January 1865, as Speaker of the House, Colfax made the unusual choice to cast a vote for passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. (Speakers can vote on House motions but, by convention, rarely do so.) After winning the presidential election of 1868, Ulysses S. Grant and Colfax, at ages 46 and 45, were the youngest Presidential ticket elected in the 19th Century. Believing Grant would only serve one term, in 1870 Colfax attempted unsuccessfully to garner support for the 1872 presidential nomination by telling friends and supporters he would not seek a second vice-presidential term. Grant ran again, and Colfax reversed himself and attempted to win the vice presidential nomination, but was defeated by Henry Wilson. In January 1871, Colfax encouraged a unified Italy to adopt a republican government that protected religious freedom and civil rights of its citizens.

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