Colfax, Schuyler


1868 ALS while House Speaker, 45 days before nominated as Grant’s Vice President


Type: Letter
Description: (1823-1885) Indiana US Rep 1855-69, Speaker of the House of Representatives 1863-69, 17th US Vice President 1869–1873.

New York City-born, he moved with his mother and stepfather to Indiana 1836. As a young man, Colfax contributed articles on Indiana politics to the “New York Tribune” and formed a friendship with editor Horace Greeley. At 19 he became editor of the pro-Whig “South Bend Free Press” and in 1845, bought the newspaper, changing its name to the “St. Joseph Valley Register”. He ran the paper for 9 years, and wrote editorials in support of Whig and, later, Republican views.

A delegate to the 1848 Whig Convention and the 1849 & 1850 Indiana constitutional conventions, Colfax was elected to Congress in 1854 in opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. When the Whig Party collapsed, he joined the new Republican Party, and after the Republicans gained a majority in the House of Representatives in the 1858 elections, he became chairman of the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads. A strong opponent of slavery, his speech attacking the pro-slavery Lecompton Legislature in Kansas was the most widely requested Republican campaign document in the election. In 1862, he was elected House Speaker and announced passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865. In 1868, he was elected Grant’s Vice President, served 1869-73; he was not renominated in 1872, replaced by Mass. Senator Henry Wilson. Involved in the Crédit Mobilier scandal, he left office under a cloud. After leaving office, Colfax embarked on a successful career as a lecturer.

5 1/4 x 6 1/2 ALS on Western Union Telegraph Co. form, Np (Washington), April 6 1868, to Mr. Tinker. Speaker Colfax found interesting the news Tinker sent Colfax the night of the New Hampshire election and Colfax would like to hear from him about Connecticut that night. He presciently adds: “I expect a close election, perhaps English’s election & a Republican Legislature.” Docket on verso.

The 1868 Connecticut gubernatorial election was held April 6, 1868, 1st of 4 consecutive contests between the same men. Incumbent Democratic Governor James E. English defeated Republican nominee Marshall Jewell with 50.88% of the vote. Grant and Colfax were nominated at the Republican Convention May 21, 1868.

Condition: Very good, folds, tiny nick at bottom center edge; few fold splits carefully strengthened verso

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