Friday, August 11, 2006
Indiana Governors Profiled
Did you know that Indiana’s first territorial governor, William Henry Harrison, became the ninth president of the United States and was the grandfather of the twenty-third president, Benjamin Harrison? That Henry S. Lane served the shortest term as Indiana governor, just three days? That two governors, Thomas A. Hendricks and Thomas R. Marshall, later served as vice presidents? That Civil War governor Oliver P. Morton was the first native-born Hoosier to serve as the state’s chief executive?
Recently released by the IHS Press, The Governors of Indiana includes detailed biographies and official portraits of the fifty men who have served as the Hoosier State’s chief executive.
Edited by Linda C. Gugin and James E. St. Clair, the 436-page, hardcover book includes biographical information and highlights the lives and careers of each governor, with special emphasis on the events and accomplishments during his time in office. Each governor's official portrait is also included. An introductory essay discusses the evolution of the office of governor and provides an overview of the people who have been governor.
The men who are featured deserve recognition if for no other reason than serving as chief executive of Indiana, the highest honor the state can bestow. In addition, many of them filled important offices on the national level, such as representative, senator, cabinet officer, ambassador, vice president, and president. Others achieved prominence outside of politics as successful lawyers, businessmen, and civic leaders.
In their introductory essay, the editors note that historically the office of governor in Indiana has been a weak institution compared to the power enjoyed by the state legislature and contrasted to the officer of governor in other states. Over time, however, the state’s chief executive has increasingly wielded more power than what was prescribed in the constitutions of 1816 and 1851.
Historical events have played a role in shaping gubernatorial authority. The book closely examines the administration of two of the state’s most powerful chief executives—Oliver P. Morton, governor during the Civil War, and Paul V. McNutt, who occupied the office during the grim days of the Great Depression. Republican Morton, a key supporter of President Abraham Lincoln, has been called “the most powerful governor of Indiana during the nineteenth century.” With the support of a Democratic legislature, McNutt could boast of a string of legislative victories that has never been matched by succeeding administrations.
Linda C. Gugin is a professor of political science at Indiana University Southeast and is cowriter of Sherman Minton: New Deal Senator, Cold War Justice and Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson of Kentucky: A Political Biography. James E. St. Clair is a professor of journalism at Indiana University Southeast and is cowriter of Sherman Minton: New Deal Senator, Cold War Justice and Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson of Kentucky: A Political Biography.
The Governors of Indiana costs $34.95 and is available at the Society's Basile History Market gift shop. To order, call (800) 447-1830 or order online at the History Market.