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George Pendleton
"United States Ambassador to Germany
In office
June 21, 1885 – April 25, 1889
President "Grover Cleveland
"Benjamin Harrison
Preceded by "John A. Kasson
Succeeded by "William Phelps
Chair of the "Senate Democratic Caucus
In office
March 4, 1881 – March 4, 1885
Preceded by "William A. Wallace
Succeeded by "James B. Beck
"United States Senator
from "Ohio
In office
March 4, 1879 – March 4, 1885
Preceded by "Stanley Matthews
Succeeded by "Henry B. Payne
Member of the "U.S. House of Representatives
from "Ohio's "1st district
In office
March 4, 1857 – March 4, 1865
Preceded by "Timothy C. Day
Succeeded by "Benjamin Eggleston
Member of the "Ohio Senate
from the 1st district
In office
January 2, 1854 – January 6, 1856
Served with John Schiff, William Converse
Preceded by Edwin Armstrong
Adam Riddle
John Vattier
Succeeded by "Stanley Matthews
George Holmes
William Converse
Personal details
Born George Hunt Pendleton
(1825-07-19)July 19, 1825
"Cincinnati, "Ohio, "U.S.
Died November 24, 1889(1889-11-24) (aged 64)
"Brussels, "Belgium
Political party "Democratic
Spouse(s) Alice Key
Relatives "Francis Scott Key (Father-in-law)
Education "University of Cincinnati
"Heidelberg University

George Hunt Pendleton (July 19, 1825 – November 24, 1889) was an American politician and lawyer. He represented "Ohio in both houses of "Congress and served as the "Democratic nominee for "Vice President of the United States in "1864.

After studying at the "University of Cincinnati and "Heidelberg University, Pendleton practiced law in his home town of "Cincinnati, Ohio. He was the son of Congressman "Nathanael G. Pendleton and the son-in-law of poet "Francis Scott Key. After serving in the "Ohio Senate, Pendleton won election to the "United States House of Representatives. During the "Civil War, he emerged as a leader of the "Copperheads, a group of Democrats who favored peace with the "Confederacy. After the war, he opposed the "Thirteenth Amendment and the "Civil Rights Act of 1866.

The "1864 Democratic National Convention nominated a ticket of "George B. McClellan, who favored continuing the war, and Pendleton, who opposed it. The ticket was defeated by the "Republican ticket of "Abraham Lincoln and "Andrew Johnson, and Pendleton lost his Congressional re-election race that same year. Pendleton was a strong contender for the presidential nomination at the "1868 Democratic National Convention, but was defeated by "Horatio Seymour. After Pendleton lost the 1869 Ohio gubernatorial election, he temporarily left politics.

He served as the president of the Kentucky Central Railroad before returning to Congress. Pendleton won election to the Senate in 1879 and served a single term, becoming Chairman of the "Senate Democratic Conference. After the assassination of President "James A. Garfield, he wrote and helped pass the "Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883. The act required many civil service hires to be based on merit rather than political connections. Passage of the act lost him support in Ohio and he was not nominated for a second term in the Senate. President "Grover Cleveland appointed him as the ambassador to the "German Empire. He served in that position until 1889, dying later that same year.


Early life[edit]

Pendleton was born in "Cincinnati, Ohio. He was the son of "Nathanael Greene Pendleton and attended the local schools and "Cincinnati College and the "University of Heidelberg in "Germany. Pendleton studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1847 and commenced practice in Cincinnati. He married Alice Key, the daughter of "Francis Scott Key, in 1846 and had four children:

Prewar political career[edit]

"Currier and Ives print of the Democratic presidential party ticket, 1864. Lithograph with watercolor.

He was a member of the "Ohio Senate from 1854 to 1856. In 1854, he ran unsuccessfully for the "Thirty-fourth United States Congress. Three years later, he was elected as a "Democrat to the "Thirty-fifth Congress and would be re-elected to the three following Congresses (March 4, 1857 – March 3, 1865). During his time in the House of Representatives, he was one of the managers appointed by the "House of Representatives in 1862 to conduct the "impeachment proceedings against "West H. Humphreys, a US judge for several districts of "Tennessee. He was a leader of the peace faction of his party, with close ties to the "Copperheads. He voted against the "Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude.[2]

National Politics[edit]

Pendleton ran as an antiwar Democrat in the "1864 presidential elections for "Vice President, together with "George McClellan. Their opponents were Lincoln (President) and "Andrew Johnson (nominee for Vice President). At 39, Pendleton was one of the youngest candidates for national office in US history. McClellan and Pendleton lost, receiving about 45% of the vote. In the same election, Pendleton also lost re-election to the "Thirty-ninth Congress.

Out of office[edit]

Out of office for the first time in a decade, Pendleton ran for his old House seat in 1866 but lost. In "1868, he sought the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. He led for the first 15 ballots and was nearly the nominee, but his support disappeared and he lost to "Horatio Seymour, primarily for his support of the ""Ohio idea." The following year, he was the Democratic nominee for "Governor of Ohio and again lost, this time to "Rutherford B. Hayes.

Pendleton stepped away from politics, and in 1869, he became president of the Kentucky Central Railroad.

Political comeback[edit]

In 1879, he made his comeback when he was elected as a Democrat to the "United States Senate. During his only term, from 1881 to 1885, he served concurrently as the "Chairman of the Democratic Conference. Following the 1881 assassination of "James A. Garfield, he passed his most notable legislation, known as the "Pendleton Act of 1883, requiring civil service exams for government positions. The Act helped put an end to the system of "patronage in widespread use at the time, but it cost Pendelton politically, as many members of his own party preferred the spoils system. He was thus not renominated to the Senate.

Later life[edit]

Instead, President "Grover Cleveland appointed him "Envoy Extraordinary and "Minister Plenipotentiary to Germany the year that he left office, which he served until April 1889. Five months later, during his return trip to the United States, he died in "Brussels, "Belgium. He is interred in "Spring Grove Cemetery, "Cincinnati, Ohio.


Pendleton had a very "Jacksonian commitment to the Democratic Party as the best, perhaps the only, mechanism through which ordinary Americans could shape government policies. Mach (2007) argues that Pendleton's chief contribution was to demonstrate the "Whig Party's willingness to use its power in government to achieve Jacksonian ideals.

While his Jacksonian commitment to "states' rights and limited government made him a dissenter during the Civil War, what Mach calls Pendleton's Jacksonian "ardor to expand opportunities for ordinary Americans" was the basis for his leadership in civil service reform and his controversial plan to use "greenbacks to repay the federal debt. What appeared to be a substantive ideological shift, Mach argues, represented Pendleton's pragmatic willingness to use new means to achieve old ends.


Pendleton in his later years.

The city of "Pendleton, Oregon, is named after him.[3]

The "George H. Pendleton House in Cincinnati is a "National Historical Landmark and was listed on the "National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ "RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project: Janet Ariciu family Bush". Wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved 2013-11-08. 
  2. ^ "Recognizing The Anniversary Of The 13Th Amendment(Extensions of Remarks)". Congressional Record. Government Printing Office. 151 (157): E2496–E2497. December 8, 2005. 
  3. ^ "History of Pendleton". The City of Pendleton. Retrieved May 1, 2017. 


External links[edit]

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