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John Brooks Henderson (November 16, 1826 – April 12, 1913) was a United States Senator from Missourimarker and a co-author of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Born near Danville, Virginiamarker, he moved with his parents to Lincoln County, Missourimarker, studied on his own while a farm hand, taught school, was admitted to the bar in 1844, and practiced.

Political career

He was a member of the Missouri House of Representativesmarker in 1848-1850 and 1856-1858, and was active in Democratic politics. He was commissioned a brigadier general in the State militia in 1861.

On January 17, 1862, Henderson was appointed to the U.S. Senate as a Unionist to fill the vacancy caused by the expulsion of Trusten Polk. Later that year, Henderson was elected to a full six year term in the U.S. Senate.

Henderson signed a peace treaty with Jefferson Jones of the short-lived Kingdom of Callaway, lending that breakaway state legitimacy in 1862.

Henderson met with President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865 shortly before Lincoln left for Ford's Theatremarker where he was assassinated that night. Henderson successfully procured a pardon for Missouri resident George S. E. Vaughn who had been convicted of spying and sentenced to death. It was Lincoln's last official act as President.

13th Amendment

As a United States Senator representing a slave state, Henderson co-authored and co-sponsored the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution permanently prohibiting slavery in the United States. Henderson's original proposal, made January 11, 1864, was submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee and on February 10, 1865, the judiciary committee presented the Senate with a proposal combining the drafts of Congressman James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio), Congressman James Falconer Wilson, (Republican, Iowa), and Henderson.

John B.
Henderson in his elder years.
The 13th Amendment was approved by the U.S. Congress on January 31, 1865, and was signed by President Abraham Lincoln the following day. Lincoln was assassinated before the amendment was ratified by the State of Georgiamarker on December 6, 1865.

While in the Senate, Henderson was chairman of the Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expense (Thirty-ninth Congress) and a member of the Committee on Indian Affairs (Thirty-ninth and Fortieth Congresses).

During President Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial, Henderson broke party ranks, along with six other Republican senators, and in a courageous act of political suicide, voted for acquittal. These seven Republican senators were disturbed by how the proceedings had been manipulated in order to give a one-sided presentation of the evidence. Senators William Pitt Fessenden, Joseph S. Fowler, James W. Grimes, John B. Henderson, Lyman Trumbull, Peter G. Van Winkle , and Edmund G. Ross of Kansas, who provided the decisive vote , defied their party and public opinion and voted against impeachment.

Henderson was not a candidate for reelection to the Senate in 1868 and left the U.S. Senate on March 3, 1869.

Henderson was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Missouri and later U.S. Senator. In 1875 he was special United States attorney for prosecution of the Whiskey Ring at St. Louismarker. In 1877 he was appointed a commissioner to treat with hostile tribes of Indians.

Later life

Henderson moved to Washington, D.C.marker in 1888, was a writer, and resided in the capital until his death in 1913. Interment was in Green-Wood Cemeterymarker, Brooklyn, New Yorkmarker.



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