Schuyler Colfax

Schuyler Colfax was born in New York City in 1823; he and his family moved to Indiana in 1836. Colfax was elected one of Indiana’s members of the US House of Representatives in 1855, serving as Speaker of the House from 1863 to the end of his tenure in 1869. In 1868, he ran as the Radical Republican candidate for Vice President, with Ulysses S. Grant as his running mate. The two were elected, and entered office in 1869. Colfax’s political career was destroyed when his involvement in the Crédit Mobilier scandal was exposed. On September 4, 1872, the New York Sun published an article accusing the Vice President, among other prominent politicians, of accepting stock in the Crédit Mobilier in exchange for political influence in Congress. A subsequent congressional investigation revealed that insiders of the Union Pacific Railroad had created the Crédit Mobilier construction company in order to pay themselves millions of dollars to build the railroad. Before and during Grant’s administration, the organizers of the fraud had bribed members of Congress to prevent any action that would interfere with the congressional railroad subsidies which made their profiteering possible. Some of the politicians investigated were formally censured. In Colfax’s case, however, the House Judiciary Committee recommended that he not be impeached, since the misconduct of which he was accused had taken place before he became Vice President. Although he remained in office until the end of his term, his political career had effectively ended. Colfax died in Mankato, Minnesota in 1885.