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Most Prominent Politicians (XIX): Indiana


Indiana, the state of Vice-Presidents. I thought about ranking these guys. But why would you bother. 10 fairly important people who range from 2 meh presidents to 4 VPs to some important but not vital senators. Plus Indiana also spawned Garfield creator Jim Davis so how can I give it any credit? So here they are in alphabetical order. You try to rank these people.

Birch Bayh. Admittedly, we have to be willing to forgive him his son in order to consider him. But he was a major player behind both the 25th and 26th Amendment and was a legitimate leader of the Democratic Party in the 1970s.

Albert Beveridge–leading imperialist. Reasonably important Progressive Era Senator.

Schuyler Colfax. Grant’s first VP until he was implicated in the Credit Mobilier scandal.

Charles Fairbanks. Did nothing as Theodore Roosevelt’s Vice-President. He also was the VP candidate for Charles Evans Hughes in 1916. Pretty exciting.

Benjamin Harrison–I have a Harrison joke of sorts. It’s that I’m a professional and I can’t even think of anything Benjamin Harrison did as president. I mean, that’s not strictly true I guess. There are the forest reserves. And he signed the Sherman Antitrust Act that he really didn’t have anything to do with creating. And I suppose he wasn’t quite as atrocious on race as your typical Gilded Age politician maybe. But really, who cares.

William Henry Harrison–Note: wear a coat during a winter storm in Washington D.C. if you are going to be outside for several hours.

Richard Lugar–Overrated as a senator probably, but was an important foreign policy voice.

Thomas Marshall–A reasonably progressive governor who served as Wilson’s VP.

Dan Quayle. You say potatoe, I say potato.

Wendell Willkie–Willkie is a hard one to place. He grew up in Indiana, was an industrialist in Ohio, had a legal career in New York and never actually held a single political office, despite being the Republicans’ 1940 presidential candidate. So we’ll keep in him in home state.

Again, if you want to rank these people, go for it.

The other obvious person to consider was yet another VP–Thomas Hendricks. But Hendricks was one of the worst senators of Reconstruction on race issues and was only Cleveland’s VP for like 6 months before dropping dead. So I left him off.

Maybe Indiana should rename itself The Second Banana State.

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