George Hunt Pendleton

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Pendleton, George Hunt,

1825–89, American political leader, b. Cincinnati. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1847 and served (1854–56) in the state senate. He was an antiwar Democrat in the House of Representatives (1857–65) and vice presidential candidate on the unsuccessful Democratic ticket headed by Gen. George B. McClellan in the Civil War election of 1864. Pendleton advocated the so-called Ohio Idea—to pay in greenbacks those government bonds not specifying payment in specie (see greenbackgreenback,
in U.S. history, legal tender notes unsecured by specie (coin). In 1862, under the exigencies of the Civil War, the U.S. government first issued legal tender notes (popularly called greenbacks) that were placed on a par with notes backed by specie.
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); this stand probably cost him the Democratic presidential nomination in 1868. After running unsuccessfully for the governorship of Ohio in 1869, he was president of the Kentucky Central RR until 1879, when he returned to Congress as U.S. Senator from Ohio. He secured the adoption (1883) of legislation introducing competitive examinations in the civil servicecivil service,
entire body of those employed in the civil administration as distinct from the military and excluding elected officials. The term was used in designating the British administration of India, and its first application elsewhere was in 1854 in England.
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. For this and for his support of other reform measures the Democratic party in Ohio denied him renomination. In 1885, President Cleveland appointed him minister to Germany, which post he held until his death.
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Pendleton, George Hunt

(1825–89) U.S. representative/senator; born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Known as "Gentleman George," he traveled abroad in Europe and the Middle East in 1844 before returning to the United States where he married Alice Key, the daughter of Francis Scott Key. A Democrat, he served in the Ohio state senate (1853–56) before going to Congress (1857–65). With Stephen Douglas he led the peace wing of the Democratic Party, favoring compromise and states' rights. Although he supported the war, he opposed Lincoln's wartime powers—for example, suspension of habeas corpus. He espoused greenback payment instead of coins for government bonds, causing eastern Democrats to block his presidential nomination in 1868. President of Kentucky Central Railroad (1869–89), he served Ohio again in the U.S. Senate (1879–85) where he supported a bill that created the civil service commission and competitive exams despite the protest of the victorious Democratic congressman. He was President Grover Cleveland's ambassador to Germany (1885–89).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.