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George H. Pendelton was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1825. He attended local schools in Ohio and then went on to Cincinnati College. We went to Germany to study at the University of Heidelberg. He studied law, and in 1847 he was admitted to the bar, and he returned to Cincinnati to be a lawyer. In 1854, he began to serve as an Ohio State Senator, and also lost an election to be a US Representative. However, he did win in 1856, and served as a Representative through the end of the Civil War. Pendleton was an anti-war Democrat, who was very powerful in congress among the Democrats.
After the war ended, Pendleton decided to run for Vice President for the 1864 election. He was chosen above George Cass as the Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate, and would run alongside Horatio Seymour. However, Pendelton lost, and in 1864, he returned to being a lawyer in Cincinnati. In 1866, however, he was reelected as a Representative from Ohio. In 1867, he began to muster up enough support for a Presidential run. At the 1868 Democratic Convention, Pendleton was nominated for President. He defeated Winfield Scott Hancock in the voting, and Thomas Seymour was chosen as his running mate.
Pendleton defeated incumbent Salmon P. Chase for the Presidency. Pendleton had 40 more electoral votes even though he won 5 less states. He won the Midwest and Mid Atlantic regions, and no other states, but this included the most populous states of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, which accounted for 80 of his 119 electoral votes won.
When he entered office, Pendleton began by creating the 14th amendment, which detailed a longer line of succession, and also passed a law about penalties for assassination and assassination attempts on government officials, and a law that said that government jobs, especially appointments, should be given based on merit; these were all as a reaction to the assassination of Alexander Stephens. This passed just in time for the 1870 death of Vice President Thomas Seymour, Pendleton, originally being anti-war, opened up trade between the Union and the Confederacy, and attempted to strengthen the relationships between them.
In 1872, Pendleton ran for re-election. Winfield Scott Hancock was chosen as the new Vice-Presidential candidate, over Daniel Voorhees, who Pendleton had appointed as his Vice President after the death of Seymour. Pendleton and Hancock won the election over Schuyler Colfax and Reuben Fenton (who was chosen almost completely to win New York), this time tying the number of states won and winning 133 to 100 in electoral votes.
Pendleton began his second term, and the Civil Rights Act was proposed. It attempted to define citizenship and make all citizens equal under the law. Pendleton rejected this, but it was overrided by congess in 1873. This was followed by the proposal of the 15th amendment, which would grant African-Americans citizenship and completely deny the Three Fifths Compromise. When proposed, it appeared as though it would pass, but it needed one more state. However, in 1875, after midterm elections, two more states approved the amendment, though Pendleton opposed it, and it passed in early 1875. After Pendleton opposed these, he was accused of being too mean to former slaves and too nice to the Confederacy, especially by former President Salmon P. Chase.
Pendleton pushed through his Civil Service Act in early 1876, and it was his last major contribution. He determined that government jobs should be given based on merit, not ties to current officials, and set up a system of testing.
Pendleton was considered a very smart politician, but by the end of his Presidency he he not liked. Many people did not want him to continue to be active in lawmaking, but since he was very anti-war and opened up trade with the Confederacy, he became the first American Ambassador to the Confederacy in 1879. He remained key in the relationship between the two countries. He became ill in 1891 while in Montgomery, and died later that year. His body was sent back to Cincinnati where he was buried.