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Allen Granberry Thurman (November 13, 1813 – December 12, 1895) was a Democratic Representative and Senator from Ohiomarker, as well as the nominee of the Democratic Party for Vice President of the United States in 1888.


He was born in Lynchburg, Virginiamarker, to Pleasant Thurman and Mary Granberry Allen Thurman. Both his parents were teachers; his father also a Methodist minister. In 1815, his parents emancipated their slaves and moved to Chillicothe, Ohiomarker. He attended the academy run by his mother, and then studied law as an apprentice to his uncle, William Allen (who later became a Senator from Ohio).

At the age of eighteen, Thurman worked on a land survey, and at twenty-one became private secretary to the Governor of Ohio, Robert Lucas.

In 1835 he was admitted to the Ohio bar and became his uncle's law partner. In 1837 his uncle entered the Senate. On November 14, 1844, Thurman married Mary Dun Thomplins (or Tompkins), who was to bear him three children. The same year he was elected to the House of Representatives as its youngest member. He generally supported the majority of the Democrats on all issues except internal improvements, on which he tended to vote with the Whigs. He supported the Polk Administration's conduct of the Mexican-American War, spoke in favor of the 54o40' northern limit to the Oregonmarker territory, and voted for the Wilmot Proviso, which would have banned slavery from the territory gained from Mexicomarker. Ironically, his support for the latter was due to anti-African-American prejudice, as he wanted to reserve this territory for white settlement.

After a single two-year term, he left the House voluntarily to resume private law practice. However, in 1851, he accepted an appointment to the Supreme Court of Ohiomarker, where he served for five years, the last year as the chief justice. He then returned to private law practice.

In 1853 he moved from Chillicothe to Columbus, Ohiomarker, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Thurman spoke out against the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and opposed the pro-slavery Lecompton constitution for Kansasmarker. In 1860 he was a supporter of Stephen A. Douglas for President. He never accepted the right of a state to secede, but he felt it was unwise to fight a state that had already left the Union, so during the American Civil War, he was opposed to Lincoln's policies, especially on emancipation. While he supported the war effort, he encouraged compromise and a political settlement.

Cleveland/Thurman campaign poster
In 1867, he ran for Governor of Ohio, on a platform opposed to extending suffrage to blacks, but lost to Rutherford B. Hayes in a close election. The Ohio voters chose a Democratic state legislature, however, which selected Thurman as Senator for the term beginning in 1869. He there became a strong opponent of the Republicans' Reconstruction measures. In 1873 Thurman crafted a strategy that led to Ohio choosing once more a Democratic legislature, and electing Thurman's uncle William Allen as governor. The legislature elected Thurman to another term in the Senate. During the twelve years he served in the Senate, he became the leader of the Democrats in that body.

In the 1876–1877 electoral college crisis, he helped to arrive at the solution of creating the Electoral Commission to settle the controversy, and ultimately served as one of the members of the commission, as one of the five Senators (one of the two Senate Democrats, and one of the seven Democrats altogether). As a Democrat, he voted with the seven-member minority, in favor of the Samuel J. Tilden electors in all cases, but the Republican majority prevailed in all the votes, and Thurman's 1867 gubernatorial opponent, Rutherford B. Hayes, became President. (One of the House of Representatives' members of the Commission, fellow Ohioan James Garfield, was to become the President four years later, after being chosen by the now-Republican Ohio legislature to succeed Thurman.)

In the Senate, Thurman served on the Judiciary Committee, becoming its chairman when the Democrats won control of the Senate in the 46th Congress. He also became President pro tempore of the Senate briefly, serving as president of the Senate because of the illness of Vice-President William A. Wheeler, before Ohio chose a Republican legislature, which would not reelect Thurman. They first chose Garfield, but on his election to the Presidency, selected John Sherman to succeed Thurman beginning in 1881. Garfield did appoint Thurman as American representative to the international monetary conference in Parismarker.

Thurman was put forth as a favorite son candidate in the Democratic presidential nominating conventions in 1876, 1880, and 1884. In 1888, he was selected by the incumbent president, Grover Cleveland, as his vice presidential running mate, because Vice President Thomas Hendricks had died in office. The Cleveland-Thurman ticket won more popular votes than the Harrison-Morton ticket, but it did not carry enough electoral votes.

Thurman died at home in Columbus and is buried at Green Lawn Cemeterymarker.


  • Retrieved on 2009-03-23
  • Retrieved on 2009-03-23

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