Politics has always played an important role in Indiana, and the state itself at one time furnished candidates for national office for an assortment of American political parties. From 1840, when Whig William Henry Harrison captured the White House with his “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” campaign, to 1940, when Wendell Willkie won the Republican presidential nomination and challenged incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s try for a third term in office, approximately 60 percent of the elections had Hoosiers on a party’s national ticket.
Seeking political office became so ingrained into the state’s character that noted humorist and journalist George Ade once joked—playing off General William Tecumseh Sherman’s famous quote—that the first words of every Hoosier child upon birth were: “If nominated I will run, if elected I will serve.”
Geoff Paddock’s Indiana Political Heroes takes a contemporary look at those who serve in public office as it includes essays on eight Hoosier politicians that have made a difference in Indiana and in the nation’s capital as well. Paddock profiles such distinguished Democratic and Republican lawmakers as Birch Bayh, John Brademas, Richard Hatcher, Vance Hartke, William Hudnut, Richard Ristine, J. Edward Roush, and William Ruckelshaus. In these essays readers will learn about national educational reform, opposition to the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the growth of Indianapolis into a nationally respected community.
Paddock serves as the executive director of the Headwaters Flood Control and Park Project in Fort Wayne and is past president of the Fort Wayne Community Schools board of trustees. He is a frequent contributor to the Indiana Historical Society popular history magazine Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History and is the author of Headwaters Park: Fort Wayne’s Lasting Legacy (Arcadia Publishing, 2002).
Indiana Political Heroes costs $12.95 and is available from the Society's Basile History Market. To order, call (800) 447-1830 or order online at the History Market.