Thomas Marshall (March 14, 1854 – June 1, 1925)
28th Vice President of the United States under President Woodrow Wilson
In office March 4, 1913 – March 4, 1921 (Two terms)
After Thomas Marshall was born in northern Indiana, his parents began moving westward, seeking a series of hopefully better climates to relieve his mother’s tuberculosis. While living in Illinois, the family was present at one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the two rivals actually took turns holding the young Thomas. Barely recalling the incident, Marshall later wrote: “It pleases me to think that perhaps in a small way something of the love of Lincoln and of Douglas for the Union, the Constitution, and the rights of the common man flowed into my childish veins.”
During the Civil War, the family moved back to Indiana, with his dad standing firm with the Democratic Party even when their Methodist minister threatened to kick him out of church for voting that way. Marshall himself took from that a feeling of faithfulness to his party while retaining a disdain for those whose partisanship got totally in the way of openness and acceptance of those with different views.
While attending Wabash College and reporting for the college paper, he wrote an article that led to a charge of libel being filed against him by a female lecturer. She managed to hire some prominent attorneys to represent her, including Lew Wallace (attorney and author of Ben Hur, written in 1880), but the case was dropped when Marshall got Benjamin Harrison to defend him.
As an attorney after graduating, he practiced law in northern Indiana, active in Democratic politics but not as a candidate until he was nominated for Governor in 1907. He won and then set his sights on the office of president. The party chose Woodrow Wilson to lead the ticket and nominated Marshall to be vice president. Wilson and Marshall won in 1912, and again in 1916, partly due to the Republican Party suffering from internal struggles. Wilson and Marshall had internal struggles of their own, described by one historian as “functioning animosity.” When Wilson suffered a serious stroke in 1919, his condition was largely hidden from Marshall and the entire nation, at least partly because Wilson’s wife and others close to Wilson did not want Marshall to assume the duties of the president. In fact, even as Wilson slowly recovered, Marshall was never allowed to see him until their final day in office.
While in office, Marshall and his wife adopted an infant, Morrison, “a sickly little boy” known as “Izzy,” who came to be “the sun and center” of their life, but unfortunately Morrison died when he was three and a half. “I have only hope and faith that there is a land of pure delight, which we call Heaven. I know not where it is, but this I do know — he is there! And I shall never see the glory of another and a fairer world, until I see his curly locks again and hear the music of his voice amid the angelic choir.” Little Morrison is entombed with the Marshalls and Marshall’s parents in their family mausoleum. Marshall himself died of a heart attack at age 71 on June 1, 1925, as he was reading his Bible one night while visiting Washington, D.C. (All quotations are taken from his book entitled A Hoosier Salad.)
“A certain man had two sons. One went to sea, and one became vice president. Neither were ever heard from again.” – a favorite joke of VP Thomas Marshall, known for his quick wit and sense of humor.
Location: Section 72, Lot 1; GPS (39.8194807, -86.1713870)