December 11: Allen Granberry Thurman (1895)

Allen Granberry Thurman was a Democratic Representative, Ohio Supreme Court justice, and Senator from Ohio. He was the Democratic Party’s nominee for Vice President of the United States in 1888. Thurman was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, to Mary Granberry Allen Thurman, a teacher, and Pleasant Thurman, a minister. In 1815 his parents freed their slaves and moved the family to Chillicothe, Ohio. Young Thurman read law primarily under the supervision of his uncle, William Allen. In 1835 he was admitted to the Ohio bar and became the law partner of his uncle, who soon entered the U.S. Senate. In 1844 Thurman married Mary Dun Tompkins. They had three children. When Thurman was elected to Congress in 1844, he became the youngest member of the House of Representatives. Thurman decided not to run for reelection, and returned to his private law practice. In 1851 he was appointed to the state supreme court and served for five years, one as chief justice, before returning to his law practice.

During the Civil War, Thurman supported the war effort, but encouraged political compromise and a peaceful settlement. During the Electoral College crisis of 1876, he helped forge the solution of creating a commission to resolve the controversy. Thurman was elected president pro tempore of the Senate before the Ohio legislature, now in Republican hands, replaced him with John Sherman in 1881. Ohio Democrats nominated him as a favorite-son candidate for president in 1876, 1880, and 1884. In 1888, Grover Cleveland chose the aging Thurman to be his vice-presidential running mate, hoping he would appeal to conservative Midwesterners. Thurman campaigned actively, but his obvious frailty provoked negative publicity. The Democratic ticket lost in the Electoral College. Thurman and his second wife Mary had three daughters. The eldest daughter, Elizabeth, was married at Epiphany in 1873 with her parents and President Grant as witnesses.

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