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Thomas Hart Benton (Senator)

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U.S. Senator

The Resume

    (March 14, 1782-April 10, 1858)
    Born in Harts Mill, North Carolina
    Served in the Tennessee state legislature (1809-11)
    US Senator from Missouri (1821-51)
    Represented Missouri's First District in the House (1853-55)
    Advocate for US territorial expansion (Manifest Destiny)
    Democrat
    Great-granduncle and namesake of painter Thomas Hart Benton

Why he might be annoying:

    He was expelled from the University of North Carolina after being accused of stealing from other students (1799).
    While serving as Andrew Jackson's aide de camp during the War of 1812, he and Jackson got into a brawl, during which he shot Jackson in the arm.
    He killed a fellow lawyer, Charles Lucas, in a duel (1817).
    He owned slaves.
    When his son-in-law, John C. Fremont, ran for President as the Republican candidate, he still voted for the Democrat, James Buchanan.

Why he might not be annoying:

    He authored the first Homestead Act to give federal land to settlers willing to farm it.
    After years of growing discomfort, he publicly declared himself 'against the institution of slavery.' (1849)
    He was opposed to the Compromise of 1850 as too favorable to slave-owning interests, which would result in the Missouri state legislature refusing to return him to the Senate.
    Debate over the Compromise of 1850 became so heated that Senator Henry Foote (D-Mississippi) pulled a pistol on him. He responded by tearing open his shirt and shouting, 'Let the assassin shoot! He knows I am not armed.' (Fortunately for Benton, other Senators wrestled Foote to the floor and disarmed him.)
    He was one of the eight Senators featured in John F. Kennedy's 'Profiles in Courage.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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Year In Review:

    For 2021, as of last week, Out of 2 Votes: 0% Annoying
    In 2021, Out of 10 Votes: 40.0% Annoying