Last modified on November 20, 2021, at 18:07

George H. Pendleton

George Hunt Pendleton
George Pendleton Ohio.png
Former United States Ambassador to Germany
From: January 2, 1854 – January 6, 1856
President Grover Cleveland (1885–1889)
Benjamin Harrison (1889)
Predecessor John A. Kasson
Successor William Phelps
Former U.S. Senator from Ohio
From: March 4, 1879 – March 3, 1885
Predecessor Stanley Matthews
Successor Henry B. Payne
Former U.S. Representative from Ohio's 1st Congressional District
From: March 4, 1857 – March 3, 1865
Predecessor Timothy C. Day
Successor Benjamin Eggleston
Former State Senator from Ohio's 1st District
From: January 2, 1854 – January 6, 1856
Predecessor Edwin Armstrong
Adam Riddle
John Vattier
Successor Stanley Matthews
George Holmes
William Converse
Party Democrat
Spouse(s) Alice Key

George Hunt Pendleton (July 19, 1825 – November 24, 1889), also referred to as "Gentleman George,"[1] was a Democrat U.S. representative and senator from Ohio known for being a Copperhead during the American Civil War, George B. McClellan's running mate in the 1864 presidential election, in addition to sponsoring the Pendleton Act that created the civil service system.


Following an unsuccessful bid for Congress in the 1854 midterms against anti-Nebraska candidate Timothy C. Day,[2] Pendleton was elected to the U.S. House from Ohio's 1st congressional district the following election cycle.[3] In the 1860 presidential election, he supported the candidacy of Illinois Democrat Stephen A. Douglas.[1][4]

Pendleton gained prominence due to his opposition towards the Civil War as a "Peace Democrat"[1] (aka Cooperhead) and supported slavery,[4][5] having opposed efforts to ban it from the West during the 1850s.[1] During the war, he assailed President Abraham Lincoln's war-related efforts as alleged attacks on civil liberties.[6]

Rep. Pendleton voted against the 13th Amendment like most Northern Democrats[7] and was one of its leading opponents.[8] He was enraged when blacks were given their freedom, believing them to be inferior.

He was a proponent of the "Ohio idea" that advocated for Civil War debt to be paid off in the form of greenbacks,[4][9][10] which notably gained Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens' support.[11] This allowed him to receive the vice presidential nomination of the Democratic Party in 1864, though the ticket lost in a landslide.[12] He attempted to return to Congress in the 1866 midterms, though lost to Republican Benjamin Eggleston by five percentage points.[13]

Pendleton gave a speech at St. Paul, Minnesota in mid-July 1867, where he attacked falsely attacked Republican efforts to protect constitution rights of newly freed blacks as supposedly unconstitutional.[14]

In the 1868 presidential election, Pendleton sought the party nomination, which instead went to New York white supremacist Horatio Seymour due to his support for "soft money" that lost the backing of Northeastern Democrats.[1][4][9] He also ran for Governor of Ohio in 1869, losing narrowly to Radical Republican and future president Rutherford B. Hayes.[15] Following the defeats, Pendleton became the Kentucky Central Railroad president.[1][4]

U.S. Senate

In the 1878 midterm elections, Pendleton made a political comeback with no formal GOP opposition,[16] and was made Ohio's junior U.S. senator. He was known for his advocacy of civil service reform,[1] which Half-Breed Republicans and some Democrats supported at the time.

George Hunt Pendleton Brady-Handy picture.jpg

Pendleton was unhappy that many black Republicans had received government jobs during Reconstruction through the spoils system,[9] and sought to stop this trend in an effort to reverse their socioeconomic gains. By using civil service reform to mandate the merit system, Pendleton could use this new idea to rebuild the Democratic Party in the Gilded Age and create a civil service system that was entrenched with Democrat bureaucracy and discriminate against blacks.[17]

Thus, he wrote the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act and managed to convince a Republican-led Congress to pass it in the wake of Half-Breed James Garfield's assassination, as public pressure and media pressure was immense enough to cause Stalwart Chester A. Arthur to cave in and betray his faction along with congressional Republicans that had opposed civil service reform (aka Stalwarts).[18] As a result, the Act was passed and signed by Arthur,[1][9][19] and it contributed to the Progressive Era. This lead to an end of the pro-business policy of the Gilded Age while also laying down the groundwork for the Deep State,[20][18] another product of big government.

As a significant number of Democrats had favored the spoils system[19] and would later push for repealing the Pendleton Act out of adherence to Jacksonian roots,[21] Pendleton fell into unpopularity and denied party renomination for re-election in 1884[4][9] by Henry B. Payne,[1] who succeeded him.

Ambassador to Germany

In 1885, President Grover Cleveland appointed Pendleton U.S. Ambassador to Germany,[9] and he became a civil servant himself. Pendleton held this position until 1889, ending his political career. He died a few months later.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Searles, Harry; Mangus, Mike (April 9, 2012). George H. Pendleton. Ohio Civil War Central. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  2. OH District 01 Race - Oct 10, 1854. Our Campaigns. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  3. OH District 01 Race - Oct 14, 1856. Our Campaigns. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 October 8, 1864. The Marvelous Equestrian Performance of Two Animals. The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  5. December 4, 2012. Pendleton namesake fought for slavery. East Oregonian. Archived version available here. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  6. March 10, 1863. DEMOCRATIC UNION ASSOCIATION.; Denunciatory Speeches by Hon. George H. Pendleton, of Ohio, and Mr. Knapp, of Illinois--Mr. Vallandigham Present. MR. PENDLETON'S SPEECH. The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  7. TO PASS S.J. RES. 16. (P. 531-2). Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  8. A Few Good Men: Coincidences and Anomalies of the (Obscure) Men Who Shaped 13th Amendment. The Moderate Voice.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 George Pendleton. Ohio History Central.
  10. July 20, 1998. Ohio Idea. Britannica.
  11. Foner, Eric. Thaddeus Stevens and the Imperfect Republic, p. 144. PennState University Libraries. Retrieved November 20, 2021.
  12. US Vice President Race - Nov 08, 1864. Our Campaigns. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  13. OH District 01 Race - Oct 09, 1866. Our Campaigns. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  14. July 17, 1867. POLITICAL AFFAIRS.; Speech by Hon. George H. Pendleton, at St. Paul, Minn. Fred. Douglass' Address to the Freedmen of Portsmouth. The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  15. OH Governor Race - Oct 12, 1869. Our Campaigns. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  16. OH US Senate Race - Jan 15, 1878. Our Campaigns. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  17. Matthews, Dylan (July 20, 2016). Donald Trump and Chris Christie are reportedly planning to purge the civil service. Vox. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Spencer, Robert (September 4, 2020). The Assassin Who Helped Create the Deep State. American Thinker.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Glass, Andrew (January 16, 2018). Pendleton Act inaugurates U.S. civil service system, Jan. 16, 1883. Politico. Retrieved November 12, 2021.
  20. Earle, Peter C. (November 14, 2019). The Birth of the Deep State: A History. American Institute for Economic Research.
  21. July 12, 1885. DEMOCRATIC HOSTILITY TO THE PENDLETON ACT. The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2021.

Further reading

External links