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Schuyler Colfax, Jr. (Template:Pron-en; born March 23, 1823 – died January 13, 1885) was a U.S. Representative from Indiana, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the 17th Vice President of the United States.

President Ulysses S. Grant and Colfax, 46 and 45 respectively at the time of their inauguration, were the youngest Presidential team until the inauguration of Bill Clinton and Al Gore in 1993.[1]



Vice President Schuyler Colfax

Colfax was born in New York City to Schuyler Colfax, Sr. (d. October 30, 1822, of tuberculosis) and Hannah Stryker. His grandfather, William Colfax, had served in George Washington's Life Guard during the American Revolution, became a general in the New Jersey militia and married Hester Schuyler, a cousin of general Philip Schuyler.

In 1836, Colfax moved with his mother and stepfather to New Carlisle, Indiana. As a young man, Colfax contributed articles on Indiana politics to the New York Tribune and formed a friendship with the editor, Horace Greeley. He established a reputation as rising young Whig and at 19 became the editor of the pro-Whig South Bend Free Press. In 1845, Colfax purchased the newspaper and changed its name to the St. Joseph Valley Register.

Whig Party delegate[]

Colfax was a delegate to the Whig Party Convention of 1848 and the Indiana Constitutional Convention of 1849. He was a member of the state constitutional convention in 1850. Colfax was nominated for Congress in 1850, but narrowly lost to his Democratic opponent. He ran again two years later, this time successfully,[2] in 1854 as an Anti-Nebraska candidate in opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The same year, Colfax was initiated as a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at DePauw University, without ever having attending that (or any) university.[3]

Republican party[]

When the Whig Party collapsed, Colfax briefly considered the Know-Nothing Party, but finally joined the new Republican Party that was formed as a fusion of northern Whigs, Anti-Nebraska Act Democrats, Know Nothings, and Free Soilers. After the Republicans gained the majority in the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections of 1858, Colfax became chairman of the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads. He was an energetic opponent of slavery and his speech attacking the pro-slavery Lecompton Legislature in Kansas became the most widely requested Republican campaign document in the election. In 1862, following the electoral defeat of House Speaker Galusha Grow, Colfax was elected Speaker of the House.[2] During his term as Speaker, he announced the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.

Vice Presidency under Ulysses S. Grant[]

In 1868 Colfax was elected Vice President of the United States on the ticket headed by Ulysses S. Grant.[2] He was inaugurated March 4, 1869, and served until March 4, 1873. Colfax was an unsuccessful candidate for renomination for the vice presidency in 1872 and was replaced by Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson. Colfax had been involved in the Crédit Mobilier of America scandal and left office under a cloud.[2][4]

Personal life[]

On October 10, 1844, Colfax married childhood friend Evelyn Clark. She died childless in 1863. On November 18, 1868, two weeks after he was elected vice president, Colfax married Ella M. Wade, a niece of Senator Benjamin Franklin Wade. They had one son, Schuyler Colfax III, born in 1870.

Last years[]

After leaving office, Colfax embarked on a successful career as a lecturer. On January 13, 1885, he walked about three-quarters of a mile in minus 30˚F weather from the Front Street depot to the Omaha depot in Mankato, Minnesota. He had to change trains in Mankato to reach Rock Rapids, Iowa, going from South Bend via Chicago for a speaking engagement.[5] Five minutes after arriving at the depot, Colfax died of a heart attack brought on by the extreme cold and exhaustion.[6]

He was buried in the City Cemetery at South Bend, Indiana.[7] A historical marker in Mankato in Washington Park, site of the former depot, marks the spot where he died.


The towns of Colfax, California; Colfax, Washington; Colfax, Indiana; Colfax, Iowa and Colfax, Louisiana, are named for Schuyler Colfax. The "Jewel of the Midwest", Schuyler, Nebraska, named after Colfax, is the county seat of Colfax County, Nebraska. The now ghost town of Colfax, Colorado, was named after him. Colfax County, New Mexico, is named after the Speaker as well. In addition, the "main street" traversing Aurora, Denver and Lakewood, Colorado, and abutting the Colorado State Capitol is named "Colfax Avenue" in the politician's honor.

There is another Colfax Avenue in South Bend, Indiana (a few miles east of his New Carlisle home and adjacent to his burial site); Colfax Place in the Highland Square neighborhood in Akron, Ohio, in Grant City, Staten Island; in Minneapolis, Minnesota; in Roselle Park, New Jersey; and a Colfax Avenue on Chicago's Southeast Side. There is a Colfax Street leading up Mt. Colfax in Springdale, Pennsylvania, by the Post Office and train station in Palatine, Illinois and a Colfax Avenue in Benton Harbor, Michigan, where the school fight song contains the phrase "of that Colfax school" because the high school is located on Colfax. There is also a Colfax Sreet in Jamestown, New York. There is also a Colfax Avenue in Concord, California. Colfax, California boasts a bronze statue of Colfax, it stands next to the tracks at the AMTRAK station.

There is a Colfax elementary school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a middle school in Wayne, New Jersey.


  • Hollister, Ovando James. Life of Schuyler Colfax. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. 

See also[]

  • Dudley-Winthrop Family


  1. Ifill, Gwen (July 10, 1992). "THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: Democrats; CLINTON SELECTS SENATOR GORE OF TENNESSEE AS RUNNING MATE". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2010. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Bain, David Haward (2004). The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West. New York City, New York: Penguin Books. pp. 65–6. ISBN 0143035266. 
  3. Brylski, S. (Winter 2008). "The Pleasantest Hours of All". The Beta Theta Pi Magazine. Retrieved August 2, 2008. 
  4. Brinkley, Alan (2008). The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People (5th edition ed.). New York City, New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 409. ISBN 978-0-07-330702-2. 
  5. Hollister, 1886.
  6. "Schuyler Colfax Dead", The New York Times, January 14, 1885, p. 1.
  7. Political Graveyard

External links[]

Template:Start box Template:S-off |- Template:S-vac |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1869–March 4, 1873 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Henry Wilson |- |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Galusha A. Grow |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
December 7, 1863 – March 4, 1869 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Theodore Medad Pomeroy |- |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States House of Representatives Template:USRSB Template:S-ppo |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Andrew Johnson(1) |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Republican Party Vice Presidential candidate
1868 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Henry Wilson |- |- | colspan="3" style="background:#bebebe; color:#000000;" | Notes and references |- | colspan="3" style="text-align:left;"| 1. Lincoln and Johnson ran on the National Union ticket in 1864. |}

Template:SpeakerUSHouse Template:US Vice Presidents Template:USRepVicePresNominees

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