Childhood & Early Life
Garret Augutus Hobart was born on June 3, 1844 to Addison Willard Hobart and Sophia Vanderveer in Long Branch, New Jersey. His father was a teacher by profession and founded an elementary school. He had two brothers, one elder and the other younger.
Young Hobart started his academic studies at his father’s school in Long Branch. When the family shifted to Malboro, Hobart attended the local village school. Academically brilliant, he excelled in his studies and sports.
In 1859, he graduated from a boarding school in Matawan. After a year of opting out of regular studies, he enrolled at the Rutgers College. A bright student, he finished third in his class, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1863. Theodore Frelinghuysen, New Jersey's first major-party vice-presidential candidate, presented him with the certificate.
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Graduating from Rutgers, Hobart briefly worked as a teacher to repay his loans. It was during this time that a friend of his father, Socrates Tuttle, invited Hobart to study law at his office. Hobart accepted the offer. While studying law, he supported himself by working as a bank clerk.
In 1866, Hobart was admitted in the bar as an attorney. Same year, he was appointed as a grand jury clerk for Passaic County, a position that he won fom Tuttle’s beneficence. He soon progressed to become city counsellor-at-law in 1871. The following year, he was made a master in chancery.
Hobart’s political career commenced in 1872, when he ran on the Republican ticket for New Jersey General Assembly from Passaic County's third legislative district. He won by two-third majority. He served successfully for two terms, winning re-election in 1873.
In 1874, he was voted Speaker of the Assembly, a position he held for two terms, the maximum duration for which a speaker could hold then. Following this, he earned a nomination for the New Jersey Senate seat for Passaic County in 1876. He served for two terms, winning re-election in 1879.
From 1881 to 1882, Hobart served as President of the state Senate, thus becoming the first man to lead both houses of the legislature. From 1883 until 1913, he served as a Republican Party nominee for the United States Senate elections.
In addition to his political career, Hobart efficaciously maintained his occupation as a lawyer, advising corporates. Furthermore, Hobart served as a court-appointed receiver of bankrupt railroads. His task involved reorganizing and restoring the insolvent railroads. He also served as the President for Paterson Railway Company.
Since 1876, he served as a delegate for every Republican National Convention. From 1880 to 1891, he worked as a member of the New Jersey Republican Committee. Meanwhile, from 1884, he ventured out as a New Jersey representative for the Republican National Committee affairs.
Hobart’s involvement in the national political scene ascended greatly by 1895. He was the key manager of John Grigg’s campaign for the office of the Governor of New Jersey. It was for his charm and effective management that Hobart soon became a key contender for the Republicans for the Vice President chair.
During the 1896 election, Hobart supported William McKinley who was running on the Republican ticket for the office of the President of United States. McKinley earned his nomination for the coveted position on the first ballot. Immediately thereafter, Hobart was announced as the Vice Presidential candidate, despite his reluctance to take up the office.
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On November 3, 1896, the Republican candidates, McKinley and Hobart made a convincing victory at the ballots, surpassing their Democratic counterparts. Post the victory, Hobart spent the four months between election victory and inauguration, by preparing himself for the office of the Vice President. He was inaugurated to the office on March 4 in the Senate Chamber.
After the appointment, the Hobarts shifted to Washington. The cordial relationship that Hobart and McKinley shared extended to their wives as First lady Ida and Jennie became friends too. The two families often visited each other and shared an informal relationship.
Unlike his predecessors, who basically played a second fiddle and whose constitutional and political function were limited, Hobart’s role as a vice president was far more pronounced. He was a close adviser to McKinley and his cabinet members and constantly guided the administration's legislative agenda so much so that he became known as the ‘Assistant President’
While serving as the Vice President, Hobart continued to enjoy the post of arbiter of the Joint Traffic Association. Only in 1897 when JTA was found to be violatingthe Sherman Anti-Trust Act that Hobart resigned as an arbiter.
Personal Life & Legacy
Hobart married Jennie Tuttle, daughter of Socrates Tuttle, on July 21, 1869. The couple was blessed with four children of whom two survived past infancy.
In 1898, Hobart became seriously ill. He suffered from heart ailment that worsened with time. On November 1, 1899, Hobart resigned from public life. His condition was deteriorating.
Hobart breathed his last on November 21, 1899. His death was deeply regretted by the public at large. State buildings were draped in mourning and flags were flown at half-staff until his funeral.
He was interred at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in Paterson. His funeral was attended by political bigwigs, including President McKinley.
Posthumously, a statue of Hobart was erected outside Paterson’s City Hall. The communities of Hobart, Oklahoma, and Hobart, Washington, have been named after him.