Charles Curtis
Burial Location Visited Vice President Grave #
Topeka, Kansas August 11, 2009 15th Visited


Herbert Hoover's vice president's remains lie                               With sunlight running out, we finally found
in section 80 of Topeka Cemetery, just a few                              Vice President Curtis in one of the farthest
miles from the Kansas State Capitol.                                           parts of the cemetery.


Up close with Charles Curtis' grave marker.                                 The reverse side of Curtis' tombstone lists
He is the most recent vice president to sport                               his greatest accomplishments.
facial hair.

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* Curtis was born in Kansas on January 25, 1860, just over a year prior to its admission to the Union as a state. He remains the only vice president with Native American blood in his veins. His mother, from whom he received his native background, was a descendent of Kaw, Pottawatomie, and Osage ancestry. She passed away when Curtis was three and his father remarried, only to be divorced. He wed again, and was dishonorably discharged by the Union Army in the Civil War for executing three prisoners in his custody. At the end of the conflict, he was court martialled and sent to prison, although he was pardoned a month later. Even after his father returned, young Charles remained in the custody of his paternal grandparents. He later went to live with his maternal grandparents on their reservation.

* English was actually not Charles Curtis' first language. As a child, he had learned how to speak French and the language of the Kaw first. In 1868, Curtis became a local legend when a group of one hundred Cheyenne warriors attacked the Kaw reservation. Eight-year-old Curtis volunteered to go on a mission to travel to Topeka and request assistance from the governor, along with a mixed-blood interpreter. Curtis started out on foot, but eventually managed to acquire a horse and rode to the capital, located approximately sixty miles from the reservation. Also adding to his résumé, he was known to be good with a bow and arrow and was excellent at horse racing. This made him popular not only with his fellow children, but with the gamblers who used to place bets on him. However, that part of his life came to an end when his maternal grandmother insisted that he receive an education. Curtis then left the reservation and went to live in Topeka with just his father's mother (his paternal grandfather passed on prior to this). He attended Topeka High School and went on to study law after graduating.

* Passing the bar in 1881, he began practicing law in Topeka shortly thereafter. From 1885 to 1889, Curtis was the prosecuting attorney of Shawnee County. In 1892, he was elected to the first of seven terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives. He was the original author of the Curtis Act of 1898, which abolished tribal courts in Indian Territory and allocated federal lands. The Curtis Act, which was an addition to the Dawes Severalty Act from several years prior, also handed over the control of mineral leases on the land of natives to the Department of the Interior.

* In the midst of Curtis' tenure as a representative, he ran to be a U.S. senator, but was defeated. He finally did become a U.S. senator in January of 1907, when the Kansas State Legislature picked Curtis to take over an unexpired seat. He was also appointed to continue serving as senator when that term expired in March. For a very brief time, Curtis was the president pro tempore of the senate, being one of several men to hold the title on an interim basis after the death of William P. Frye. He finished out his term and departed the senate in 1913 after losing the election the previous year. He returned to that body of Congress two years later. Curtis was re-elected several more times and served as the Senate majority leader before leaving the Congress for good in 1929 to serve as Herbert Hoover's vice president.

* Like most vice presidents, Charles Curtis was not a trusted advisor of the president and was rarely consulted on matters. It appeared as though the VP thought he was more important than Hoover and should have been in the White House instead, which likely only hurt Curtis' chances of having a big role in the administration. After the Great Depression hit and it was evident that Hoover was going to do little about it, his approval rating crashed just as bad as the stock market. In 1933, after a brutal defeat at the polls the previous November, Hoover and Curtis left office. He passed away at his sister's home several years afterward.

Second Lady: None
      - Spouse: Anna Baird Curtis (1860-1924)

Political Party:
Republican Party

Served Under:
Herbert Hoover

Last Words:
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