James S. Sherman

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James S. Sherman
James Schoolcraft Sherman.jpg
27th Vice President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1909 – October 30, 1912
President William Howard Taft
Preceded by Charles W. Fairbanks
Succeeded by Thomas R. Marshall
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 23rd district
In office
March 4, 1887 – March 3, 1891
Preceded by John T. Spriggs
Succeeded by Henry Wilbur Bentley
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 25th district
In office
March 4, 1893 – March 3, 1903
Preceded by James J. Belden
Succeeded by Lucius Littauer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 27th district
In office
March 4, 1903 – March 3, 1909
Preceded by Michael E. Driscoll
Succeeded by Charles S. Millington
Mayor of Utica, New York
In office
Personal details
Born James Schoolcraft Sherman
(1855-10-24)October 24, 1855
Utica, New York, U.S.
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Utica, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Carrie Babcock Sherman
Alma mater Hamilton College
Signature Cursive signature in ink

James Schoolcraft Sherman (October 24, 1855 – October 30, 1912) was an American politician who was a United States Representative from New York and the 27th Vice President of the United States (1909–1912), under President William Howard Taft. He was a member of the inter-related Baldwin, Hoar, and Sherman families, prominent lawyers and politicians of New England.

Although not a high-powered administrator, he made a natural committee chairman, and his genial personality eased the workings of the House, so that he was known all his life as 'Sunny Jim'. He was the first Vice President to fly in a plane (New York, 1911),[1] and also the first to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game.

To date, Sherman is the last Vice President to have died in office.

Youth, education and law career

Sherman was born in Utica, New York, the son of Richard Updike Sherman and his distant cousin, Mary Frances Sherman. According to Facts on File,[2] "Sherman was of the ninth generation of descendants from Henry Sherman, a line also connected to Roger Sherman, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and William Tecumseh Sherman, the Union general during the Civil War".

He was educated at Hamilton College, where he was noted for his skills in oratory and debate and for his personal popularity as a member of the Sigma Phi fraternity. After law studies, he was admitted to the bar in 1880, practising at the local firm of Cookingham & Martin, and also serving as president of the Utica Trust & Deposit Co. and the New Hartford Canning Co., becoming mayor of Utica at the early age of twenty-nine.[3]

In 1881, he married Carrie Babcock of East Orange, New Jersey, and they had three sons.

Old-guard conservative in Congress

In 1886, Sherman was elected U.S. Representative from New York's 23rd congressional district as a Republican, and he served 20 years in the House (four years, followed by a two-year break and 16 more years).[4]

At a time when the Republican Party was divided over protective tariffs, Sherman sided with William McKinley and the conservative branch, defending the gold standard against the potentially inflationary 'free silver'.

As Sherman had never held a party leadership post or been a chairman of a major committee, he was considered sufficiently neutral to be appointed chairman of the "Committee of the Whole" — a crucial device for speeding up the passage of bills by suspending certain rules at the discretion of the chairman. Henry Cabot Lodge recognized this job as a major test of integrity and judgment, and declared that Sherman was supremely fitted for it.[5] Through Sherman's efforts in 1900, the Sherman Indian High School in Riverside, California was built and named after him.[6]

Vice President under Taft

In 1908, Sherman was nominated as the Republican candidate for Vice President on the ticket with William Howard Taft.[7] Although not an obvious front-runner, he balanced Taft's profile, by being both an Easterner and a conservative (it was said that the two wings of the GOP 'flapped together'), and the New York lobby pressed hard for his nomination. The Republicans won by a comfortable margin, though Sherman is not credited as a major vote-winner in this election.

At first, Sherman and Taft found themselves at odds over both tariff policy and the role of the Vice President. But Taft presently moved to the right, and the two of them worked together more harmoniously – a relationship eased further by the First Lady's enjoyment of the company of Sherman and his wife. The President declared that Sherman accomplished much on Capitol Hill by his "charm of speech and manner, and his spirit of conciliation and compromise", backed by a "stubborn adherence" to his principles.

Re-nomination, illness and death

From 1910, Taft had experienced several disagreements with ex-President Theodore Roosevelt, who presently walked out and formed his own Bull Moose party. This made re-election for the Republicans almost impossible, but they campaigned on the same ticket in the 1912 contest, with New Yorkers once again supporting Sherman's nomination – the first time that a sitting Vice President had been re-nominated since John C. Calhoun in 1828.

But Sherman's health had collapsed, due to his steadily worsening kidney condition (Bright's disease), and he gave his acceptance speech against medical advice. Just days before the election, he died at home in Utica, and President Taft was left with no running mate with less than a week before the election, although Nicholas Murray Butler was designated to receive the electoral votes that Sherman would have received. Taft and Butler came in third place in the election, carrying only eight electoral votes from Utah and Vermont. Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson and his running mate Thomas R. Marshall won the election while Progressive candidate Theodore Roosevelt and his running mate Hiram Johnson came in second place. The office of Vice-President remained vacant until Marshall's inauguration, on March 4, 1913.

See also


  1. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 12, 1911
  2. http://www.fofweb.com/History/HistRefMain.asp?SID=2&NoSearch=1&SingleRecord=&iPin=vpr027&DatabaseName=American%20History%20Online&AmericanData=&WomenData=&IndianData=&AFHCData=&WorldData=&AncientData=&GovernmentData=
  3. Arnold, Peri. "James S. Sherman". American President: An Online Reference Resource. University of Virginia. Retrieved December 13, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc. 1984. pp. 812, 816, 820, 825. ISBN 0-87187-339-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/resources/pdf/james_sherman.pdf
  6. Sherman Indian Museum.org: Sherman Indian High School History
  7. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc. 1984. p. 73. ISBN 0-87187-339-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Charles W. Fairbanks
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1909 – October 30, 1912
Succeeded by
Thomas R. Marshall
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Michael E. Driscoll
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 27th congressional district

March 4, 1903 – March 4, 1909
Succeeded by
Charles S. Millington
Preceded by
James J. Belden
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 25th congressional district

March 4, 1893 – March 4, 1903
Succeeded by
Lucius Littauer
Preceded by
John T. Spriggs
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 23rd congressional district

March 4, 1887 – March 4, 1891
Succeeded by
Henry Wilbur Bentley
Party political offices
Preceded by
Charles W. Fairbanks
Republican vice presidential nominee
1908, 1912
Succeeded by
Nicholas M. Butler(1)
Notes and references
1. Butler replaced Sherman on the 1912 Republican ticket as the vice presidential candidate after his death.