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Schuyler Colfax. [left to right] Ulysses S. Grant and Schuyler Colfax on a campaign banner for the 1868 Republican presidential ticket. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-7602).

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Colfax, Schuyler (23 March 1823–13 January 1885), congressman and vice president of the United States, was born in New York City, the posthumous son of Schuyler Colfax, a bank clerk, and Hannah Stryker. He and his mother lived with his widowed grandmother while he attended public schools. At age ten he entered the workforce as a store clerk. In 1834 his mother married George W. Matthews, who removed the family to New Carlisle, Indiana, in 1836. Matthews ran a store (in which Colfax clerked) and held the patronage position of village postmaster. In 1841 Matthews was elected county auditor on the Whig ticket and moved to the county seat, South Bend. Colfax served as his deputy until 1849. Following his parents’ wishes, Colfax read law, but his real love was politics. He corresponded with prominent Whigs, contributed to ...

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Charles Curtis. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-106922).

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Curtis, Charles (25 January 1860–08 February 1936), congressman, senator, and vice president of the United States, was born in North Topeka, Kansas, the son of Orren Arms Curtis, a soldier, and Ellen Gonville Pappan, a quarter-blood member of the Kansa (Kaw) Indian tribe. The only person of Indian blood to be elected to the second highest office in the land, Curtis traced his ancestry on the maternal side to Kansa chief White Plume, who married a daughter of the renowned Osage chief ...

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Richard M. Johnson. Lithograph of a portrait by A. A. Hoffay, 1833. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-97500).

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Johnson, Richard Mentor (1780–19 November 1850), U.S. congressman and vice president, was born at the frontier settlement of Beargrass, now part of Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Robert Johnson and Jemima Suggett, recent arrivals from Virginia. Soon after his birth the family moved to Bryant’s Station, near Lexington, and in 1783 settled permanently at Great Crossings in Scott County. Johnson’s father became active politically and served for a time in the Kentucky legislature. His work as a surveyor enabled him to locate and purchase some of the most valuable land in the county, and he managed to acquire a considerable estate....

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James S. Sherman Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-7891).

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Sherman, James S. (24 October 1855–30 October 1912), twenty-seventh vice president of the United States, was born James Schoolcraft Sherman in Utica, New York, the son of Richard Updike Schoolcraft Sherman, a newspaper editor and politician, and Mary Frances Sherman, whose maiden name was also Sherman. A distant relative of Union general ...