Thomas Riley Marshall

Thomas Riley Marshall

North Manchester, Wabash County, Indiana, USA
Death 1 Jun 1925 (aged 71)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Burial* Marion, Grant County, Indiana, USA

* This is the original burial site

Memorial ID 26491178 · View Source
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Governor of Indiana, US Vice President. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as the 27th Governor of Indiana from January 1909 until January 1913 and 28th US Vice President under President Woodrow Wilson for two consecutive terms from March 1913 until March 1921. He is remembered for his often-repeated phrase, "What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar." The son of a doctor, his mother contracted tuberculosis when he was a young boy and the family moved several times in an attempt to find "outdoor cures" for her, first to Quincy Illinois in 1857, then to Osawatomie, Kansas in 1859. The frontier violence in Kansas forced them to move to Missouri in 1860 and eventually back to Indiana where they settled in the town of Princeton where he began to attend public schools. In 1862 the family moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana where he graduated from high school in 1869 at the age of 15. He then attended Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana and participated in literary and debating societies, and founded a Democratic Club. He obtained a position on the staff of the college newspaper, the Geyser, and began writing political columns defending Democratic policies. After graduating from Wabash College in 1873, he became interested in law and read law in the office of Columbia City lawyer Walter Olds, a future member of the Indiana Supreme Court. He studied in the office for over a year and was admitted to the Indiana bar in April 1875. In 1876 he opened a law practice in Columbia City and after gaining prominence, he accepted William F. McNagny as a partner in 1879 and they became well known in the region after handling a number of high-profile cases. In 1880 he first entered politics as the Democratic candidate for his district's prosecuting attorney. The district was a Republican stronghold, and he was defeated. About the same time, he met and began to court Kate Hooper, and the two became engaged to marry. However, she died of an illness in 1882, one day before they were to be married. Her death was a major emotional blow to Marshall, and it led him to become an alcoholic. In 1895 he met Lois Kimsey who was working as a clerk in her father's law firm. and Despite their eighteen-year age difference, they fell in love and married that October. By that time his alcoholism had begun to interfere with his busy life prior to his marriage. His wife helped him to overcome his drinking problem and give up liquor after she locked him in their home for two weeks to undergo a treatment regimen. Thereafter, he became active in temperance organizations and delivered several speeches about the dangers of liquor. In 1904 he became a member of the state Democratic Central Committee, a position that raised his popularity and influence in the party. In 1906 he declined his party's nomination to run for US Congress but in 1908 he gained the Democratic nomination for governor and won it by an extremely narrow margin and became Indiana's first Democratic governor in 20 years. During his term, he focused primarily on advancing the progressive agenda. He successfully advocated the passage of a child labor law and anti-corruption legislation. He supported popular election of US Senators, and the constitutional amendment to allow it was ratified by the Indiana General Assembly during his term. He also overhauled the state auditing agencies and claimed to have saved the government millions of dollars. He was a strong opponent of Indiana's recently passed eugenics and sterilization laws, and ordered state institutions not to follow them. His governorship was the first in which no state executions took place, due to his opposition to capital punishment and his practice of pardoning and commuting the sentences of people condemned to execution. He regularly attacked corporations and used recently created anti-trust laws to attempt to break several large businesses. He participated in a number of ceremonial events, including personally laying the final golden brick to complete the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909. He rewrote the state's constitution and tried to get it passed in the state legislature in 1912 without calling for a constitutional convention, but the Republican opponents took it to court and obtained an injunction, which was later upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court refused to hear it after he left office in January 1913. In 1912 he received the Democratic nomination for US Vice President and teamed with Presidential candidate Woodrow Wilson to easily win the presidential election after part of the Republican Party broke away and formed the Progressive (or Bull Moose) Party. As President of the US Senate, he voted eight times to break tie votes. After a number of Democratic party leaders wanted him removed from the 1916 reelection ticket, Wilson decided that keeping him would demonstrate party unity and they won reelection over the still divided Republican Party and became the first vice president re-elected since John C. Calhoun in 1828, and Wilson and Marshall became the first US President and Vice President team to be re-elected since James Monroe and Daniel Tompkins in 1820. During his second term, the US entered World War I in April 1917. He was a reluctant supporter of the war, believing the country to be unprepared and feared it would be necessary to enact conscription. He was pleased with Wilson's strategy to begin a military buildup before the declaration of war, and fully supported the war effort once it had begun. After Wilson suffered a severe stroke in October 1919 that left him partially paralyzed and nearly incapacitated, Wilson's closest adviser, Joseph Tumulty, did not believe Marshall would be a suitable president and took precautions to prevent him from assuming the presidency, a view shared by Wilson's wife Edith. Secretary of State Robert Lansing was the first official to propose that Marshall forcibly assume the presidency and other cabinet secretaries backed Lansing's request, as did Congressional leaders, including members of both the Democratic and Republican parties. Marshall was cautious in accepting their offers of support and after consulting with his wife and his long-time personal adviser, Mark Thistlethwaite, he privately refused to assume Wilson's duties and become Acting President of the United States. The process for declaring a president incapacitated was unclear at that time, and he feared the precedent that might be set if he forcibly removed Wilson from office. Wilson was kept secluded by his wife and personal physician and only his close advisers were allowed to see him and none would divulge official information on his condition. Although Marshall sought to meet with Wilson to personally determine his condition, he was unable to do so, and relied on vague updates he received through a few bulletins published by Wilson's physician. Believing that Wilson and his advisers would not voluntarily transfer power to the vice president, a group of Congressional leaders initiated Marshall's requested joint resolution. The senators opposed to the League of Nations treaty, however, believed that as president Marshall would make several key concessions that would allow the treaty to win ratification. Wilson, in his present condition, was either unwilling or unable to make the concessions, and debate on the bill had resulted in a deadlock. In order to prevent the treaty's ratification, the anti-League senators blocked the joint resolution. In December 1919 a group of senators were finally able to check on Wilson's condition and found that although he was in very poor health, he appeared to have recovered to the point where he could make decisions, ending the perceived need for a joint resolution. Marshall had his name entered as a candidate for the 1920 presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention but was unable to gain support outside the Indiana delegation. After leaving the vice presidential office, he opened a law practice in Indianapolis, Indiana. President Warren Harding nominated him to serve on the Lincoln Memorial Commission in 1921, and then to a more lucrative position on the Federal Coal Commission in 1922; he resigned from both commissions in 1923. He then spent over a year writing books on the law and his "Recollections" (1925), a humorous memoir. Historians have noted it as unusual, even for its time, for not disclosing any secrets or attacking any of his enemies. He remained a popular public speaker, and continued to travel to give speeches. While on a trip to Washington DC he died from a heart attack at the age of 71. Originally buried at the Estates of Serenity in Marion, Indiana, he was later reinterred at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana. In February 1967 the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution was passed, allowing the vice president to assume the presidency any time the president was rendered incapable of carrying out the duties of the office.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Tombstoner & Family
  • Added: 29 Apr 2008
  • Find a Grave Memorial 26491178
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas Riley Marshall (14 Mar 1854–1 Jun 1925), Find a Grave Memorial no. 26491178, citing Estates of Serenity, Marion, Grant County, Indiana, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .