Thomas A. Hendricks

Thomas A. Hendricks (September 7, 1819 – November 25, 1885)
21st Vice President of the United States under President Grover Cleveland
In office January 13, 1873 – November 25, 1885

Thomas Andrews Hendricks was born in Zanesville, Ohio, but his parents soon moved to Indiana where his uncle, William Hendricks, was the state’s first U.S. Representative, the second elected Governor, and a U.S. Senator from 1835-1837. Hendricks attended Hanover College, passed the bar, began his law practice and married Eliza Morgan. Their only child, a son named Morgan, was born in 1848 but died in 1851.

Hendricks began his political career in 1848 with a term in the state legislature. He also served on the State Constitution Convention in 1851 and was elected a U.S. House Representative in 1851 and 1853. After several political defeats, he managed to be elected to the U.S. Senate in 1863, a Democrat at a time when many questioned the loyalty of that party to the cause of the Union. He returned to his law practice after one term. He was elected Governor in 1872, the first Democrat elected Governor in any northern state after the Civil War, which likely earned him a spot on the 1876 national ticket as the Vice Presidental Candidate. He and Presidential Candidate Samuel Tilden won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College.

After sitting out the 1880 presidential election, Hendricks found himself paired with Grover Cleveland in 1884. This time the Democrats won, and they became the first Democrats to lead the nation in 25 years. But for Hendricks, the glory and responsibility would not last long. Having suffered a stroke earlier, he died on November 25, 1885 while back in town for a holiday break.

The funeral, being that of a sitting Vice President, may have been the biggest Indianapolis has ever seen. According to the papers, the entire town was “arrayed in the trappings and suits of woe.” An estimated 100,000 people lined Illinois Street from the downtown church to the cemetery’s brand new Gothic Gates, and another 7,000 people were waiting at the graveside. The monument, an obelisk, was already there, the toddler Morgan having been moved to Crown Hill in 1883. As Hendricks was buried, “the leaden clouds at this moment let fall a few drops of rain, which is quickly succeeded by a momentous sunbeam upon the assembled people.”

Location: Section 29, Lot 2; GPS (39.8171863,-86.1712459)