Sunday, August 7, 2011

Biography of Thomas Hart Benton

Senator Thomas Hart Benton or "Old Bullion".
Thomas Hart Benton, an American statesman and political writer; born at Hillsborough, North Carolina, March 14, 1782; removed to Tennessee in early life; studied law, and commenced practice at the age of about twenty-nine. The next year he commanded a regiment under General Jackson, with whom he quarelled, and who, attempting to strike Benton with a horsewhip at Nashville in 1813, was severely wounded with a pistol by Benton's brother. Col. Benton removed soon after to St. Louis, Missouri, and commenced the publication of a political paper. He was elected in 1820 to the United States Senate, where he acted with the Democrats and became an adherent of General Jackson, and the leading politician of Missouri. He was re-elected to the Senate in 1826, and from his able advocacy of a gold and silver currency received the sobriquet of "Old Bullion." He supported Jackson in his opposition to the Bank of the United States; was in 1832 again re-elected to the Federal Senate, of which body he continued to be a member for thirty years. He became the political friend of Van Buren, favored in 1845 the annexation of Texas, and opposed Calhoun in his plans for nullification. A division having been created in the Democratic party on the question of slavery, Mr. Benton was defeated as Senator in 1850, and retired from that body in March, 1851. As a member of the National House of Representatives, to which he had been elected in 1852, he opposed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. In 1856 he was the candidate of one section of the Democracy for Governor of Missouri, but was defeated. During that year he favored the election of Buchanan to the Presidency, in opposition to Fremont, who was his son-in-law. The most important of his works is A Thirty Years' View: or, A History of the Working of the American Government for Thirty Years, from 1820 to 1850. Died at Washington in April, 1858.

The article comes from the Comprehensive Dictionary of Biography Containing Succinct Accounts of The Most Eminent Persons In All Ages, Countries, and Professions by Edward A. Thomas. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates. Copyright, By Porter & Coates. 1883.