Sehnyler Colfax, 17th vice president of the United States, born in New York city, March 23, 1823. His grandfather, Capt. Colfax, was an officer of the revolutionary army and the commandant of Washington's body guard. His father died before Schuyler was born, and when he was ten years old his mother married again, and for the next three years he was employed in his stepfather's store. In 1836 the family emigrated to Indiana, and settled in New Carlisle, St. Joseph co. During the five following years Schuyler was a clerk in a country store. In 1841 his stepfather, Mr. Matthews, was elected county auditor and removed to South Bend. Schuyler was appointed his deputy and began to study law; but after serving for two years as senate reporter for the Indianapolis "State Journal," he established in 1845 a weekly paper at South Bend called the "St. Joseph Valley Register," of which he was both proprietor and editor. In politics it supported the whig party, and in 1848 Mr. Colfax was sent as a delegate to the whig national convention at Philadelphia, of which body he was elecfed secretary. In 1850 he was a member of the Indiana state constitutional convention, in which he spoke and voted against the clause prohibiting free colored persons from entering the state.
In 1851 he was a candidate for congress, and was defeated by a majority of only 216, though his district was strongly democratic. In 1852 he was a delegate to the whig national convention at Baltimore, which appointed him its secretary. Two years later he was elected a representative in congress by the newly formed republican party, and was reelected for the six following terms. In 1856 he supported Mr. Fremont for president, and during the canvass a speech made by him in congress, on the extension of slavery and the aggressions of the slave power, was circulated to the extent of more than half a million copies. In the 35th congress Mr. Colfax was made chairman of the committee on post offices and post roads, which place he continued to occupy until his election, Dec. 7, 1863, as speaker of the 38th congress. He was reelected speaker in 1865, and again in 1867. In 1865 he made a journey across the continent to the Pacific coast; and in May, 1868, the republican national convention at Chicago nominated him for vice president of the United States, with Gen. Grant as candidate for president. He received 522 votes of the 650 that were polled by the ipcm-vention, and was elected in November; and on March 4, 1869, he was inaugurated vice president, and took his seat as president of the senate.
In 1870 he wrote a letter, which was published, declaring his purpose to withdraw from public life at the close of his term as vice president. He was subsequently led to change this determination, and in the republican national convention at Philadelphia in 1872 he was a candidate for the nomination as vice president, and received 314 1/2 votes, 384 1/2 being given to Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, who was accordingly nominated on the first ballot and chosen in the subsequent presidential election. In 1873 Mr. Colfax was implicated in the charges of corruption brought against members of congress who had received shares of the credit mobilier of America, and was repeatedly examined before the congressional committee appointed to investigate the matter. A resolution directing the judiciary committee of the house of representatives to inquire if the evidence taken by the committee called for the impeachment of any officer of the government, brought forth a report, on Feb. 24, 1873, declaring that there was no ground for the impeachment of Mr. Colfax, inasmuch as the alleged offence of bribe-taking, if committed at all, had been committed before he became vice president.
This report was accepted, and nothing more done with the matter.