This chapter was published as "The Early Years" (pp. 8-31) in "Gentleman George" Hunt Pendleton: Party Politics and Ideological Identity in Nineteenth-Century America by Thomas S. Mach. Copyright © 2007 by The Kent State University Press. All rights reserved. No part of this chapter may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or distributed, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photographic, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Kent State University Press. For educational re-use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center (508-744-3350). For all other permissions, please contact Carol Heller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
George Hunt Pendleton is a significant but neglected figure in the history of nineteenth-century politics. A Democrat from Cincinnati, Ohio, Pendleton led the mid-western faction of the party for much of the nineteenth century. He served in the Ohio Senate for one term before serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1857 until 1865. He was a leader of the Extreme Peace Democrats during the Civil War and was General George B. McClellan's running mate in the presidential campaign of 1864. Losing both the election and his seat in the House, he spent almost fifteen years out of public office. During those years he remained active in the Democratic Party both within Ohio and across the nation and was rewarded with a seat in the U.S. Senate. Serving one term from 1879 to 1885, Pendleton fathered the first major civil service reform legislation, the Pendleton Act of 1883.
"Gentleman George" not only provides a microcosm of Democratic Party operations during Pendleton's lifetime but is also a case study in the longevity of Jacksonian principles. In an era of intense Democratic factionalism stretching from the 1850s to the 1880s, Pendleton sought to unite the divided party around its traditional Jacksonian principles, which, when reapplied to address the changing political issues, became the foundation of the mid-western Democratic ideology.
With its close examination of nineteenth-century American politics, this biography will be welcomed by scholars and lovers of history alike.
Dr. Thomas Mach's areas of interest include the political history of the 19th and 20th centuries with a focus on Ohio in the Gilded Age and Christian voter blocks in the last century. His published works include articles, book reviews, and “Gentleman George” Hunt Pendleton: Party Politics and Ideological Identity in Nineteenth Century America.
Visit Dr. Mach's SelectedWorks page.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/thomas_mach/4/