Allen G. Thurman

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


He was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, 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, Ohio. 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 Oregon territory, and voted for the Wilmot Proviso, which would have banned slavery from the territory gained from Mexico. 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 Ohio, 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, Ohio, 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 Kansas. 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.

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.

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