As I do my homework I am amazed at how little I know about the Vice Presidents, the men who occupied the second most powerful office of the United States. I had heard of the first five but I had no idea who number six was. So, here’s a brief history of a forgotten Vice President.
Daniel Tompkins was born in New York at his family’s estate, Fox Meadows on June 21st 1774, just two years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He graduated from Columbia College and after passing the bar became a lawyer in New York City, at the time he added the middle initial D to his name in order to not be confused with another Daniel Tompkins, scholars argue over what the D stood for but nobody knows for sure. He was a delegate to the New York Constitutional Convention and was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1801. In 1804 he was elected to Congress but resigned when he was appointed to the New York Supreme Court. In 1807 he was elected Governor of New York and would remain in office until 1817.
During the war of 1812 Madison tried to appoint Tompkins as Secretary of State but he passed on the office remaining in New York to oversee the militia. During that time he invested his own money to supply the troops, he spend years afterwards trying to be compensated by the federal government, which led to his drinking problem. In 1817 he signed a bill declaring that all slaves in the state of New York would be declared free by 1827.
In 1816 Tompkins name was added to the Democrat-Republican ballot but he lost to Monroe. Since the party needed the support of the Northern states he was added to the ticket as the Vice Presidential candidate. They won the election of 1816 and 1820, the first Vice President to be directly elected twice under the same President, Adams had been Washington’s Vice President but under the Runner Up plan prior to the 12th Amendment.
Tompkins had been injured after falling off a horse in 1814 and had a bad drinking problem. He rarely visited the capitol and the debate over the Missouri Compromise raged unchecked. In 1820 he also ran for the Governor of New York but lost and remained in the Vice President position. He ended his term as Vice President after the election of 1824 and died three months later. For the most part Tompkins has been forgotten by history.
And so ends the mostly unremarkable Vice Presidency of Daniel D. Tompkins.
And remember, Write in Ocular Nervosa for Vice President in 2016.