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Wabash County's Vice President: A Brief Biography of Thomas Riley Marshall (1854-1925)

Nestled along Market Street in North Manchester, Indiana, sits a little white house frozen in the year 1854. The house, restored by the North Manchester Historical Society, is the birthplace of Thomas Riley Marshall, the 28th Vice President of the United States. While Marshall was born in North Manchester, he was quick to venture throughout Indiana. After attending Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, Marshall settled in Columbia City to practice law. During a business trip to Angola, Marshall met his future wife, Lois Kimsey, a woman nearly twenty years younger. The pair married in 1895 and reportedly only spent two nights apart during their thirty year marriage. Some attributed their closeness to Mrs. Marshall’s desire to keep her husband from drinking and slipping back to his previous alcoholic ways, but as the years progressed it became clear the couple was simply very fond of one another.

In 1908 the Indiana Democratic Convention named Marshall their compromised candidate for governor after a deadlock between the two original candidates. During his time as governor, Marshall implemented, among other things, minimum wage for teachers, taxation of corporations, pure food laws, and laws on corrupt election practices.

Marshall’s position as a Democratic governor of a typically Republican state attracted the

presidential campaign of Woodrow Wilson, and Marshall was soon asked to accept the nomination for vice president. Initially, Marshall refused the offer since working as a lawyer in Columbia City earned a better living. However, at the request of his wife, Thomas accepted the nomination in 1912 and the pair campaigned together as they had for the governorship.

Marshall’s strict moral and political compass followed him throughout his vice presidency.

When President Wilson suffered a stroke, Marshall was pressured to fulfill his duty as vice president and take office. However, Marshall felt he would appear power hungry and unconstitutional to assume power. Other accounts at the time also report that Marshall wanted consent from both Wilson and his wife before accepting the job. Ultimately, Marshall’s time as vice president ended in 1921 after two successful terms. When the Marshalls returned to Indianapolis in 1921, Thomas resumed his responsibilities as a

lawyer and public speaker. He traveled around the Hoosier state giving speeches, including a commencement address to the Columbia City class of 1925, and the graduating class of Manchester College (now Manchester University). Shortly after his visit to North Manchester, Marshall’s health failed and he died suddenly in a Washington D.C. hotel while reading the Bible. Marshall and his wife, who passed on in 1958, were laid to rest in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis where their mausoleum may be visited.

Formal Citation: Thomas Marshall Famous Native Son. 16 August 1973. North Manchester Historical Society, North Manchester, Indiana. 9 February 2022.

Online Access to Source: North Manchester Historical Society online archives



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