US Congressman. He was a five-term Representative from Kentucky before and during the Civil War, notable for his abolitionist views. Grider was born in Garrard County, Kentucky. He studied law, was admitted to the bar around 1810 and became a practicing attorney in Bowling Green. During the War of 1812 he served as a Corporal in Payne's Company of the Kentucky Mounted Volunteer Militia. Starting out as a member of the Whig Party, his first public offices were in the State House of Representatives (1827, 1831) and the State Senate (1833 to 1837). In 1842 he was elected to the first of two consecutive terms in the US Congress, representing his state's 3rd District, and served from 1843 to 1847. Although Kentucky was a slave state, Grider opposed this practice and was one of the few Congressmen south of the Mason-Dixon line to vote for the unsuccessful Wilmot Proviso (1846), which would have prohibited slavery in new territories acquired from Mexico, including California. His stance on the issue left him in the political wilderness throughout the 1850s, but with Civil War looming he was reelected to the US House as a Unionist and would serve three more terms, from 1861 until his death. He switched to the Democratic Party for his final term. After the war he was a member of the Committee on Reconstruction (December 1865 to March 1866) and helped draft the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, which broadened American citizenship to include former slaves. Aged and in declining health, he then returned to Bowling Green, where he died. There is a cenotaph in his memory at Congressional Cemetery in Washington DC.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards