John Nance Garner was an American statesman who served as the 32nd Vice President of the United States; he was in the office from 1933 to 1941, in the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Also referred as ‘Cactus Jack’ by his contemporaries, Garner served 15 consecutive terms as U.S. Congressman and was Speaker of the House when he was chosen for vice presidency. A native of Texas, John Nance Garner, studied law and subsequently began legal practice in Texas. Gradually, he gravitated into politics and became a member of the Democratic Party. Garner was elected as the county judge of Uvalde County and subsequently served on the state legislature, spending his early terms studying the political scenario. In 1902, he was picked to the U.S. Congress and was re-elected 14 consecutive times from the same district, serving for the next 30 years. Subsequently, Garner was chosen as the minority floor leader for the Democrats and also served as the Speaker of the House. In 1932, after an unsuccessful attempt for the Democratic Presidential nomination, Garner was elected to serve as the 32nd Vice President of the United States by President Franklin Roosevelt. During his initial term, Garner employed his skills in steering New Deal legislation through Congress, but by the time he was re-elected for vice presidency, his relationship with Roosevelt had soured. He spent his second term opposing the New Deal proposals and after completing his second term in 1941, Garner retired to Texas where he died in his 90s
Childhood & Early Life
John Nance Garner was born on November 22, 1868, in the village of Detroit, Red River County, Texas, U.S., to farmers, John Nance Garner III, and his wife, Sarah Jane Guest.
After completing high school from Blossom Prairie in Texas, Garner was enrolled at the Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. But, he dropped out after one semester and decided to pursue a legal career.
Thereafter, he studied law and was admitted to the Texas in 1890. Subsequently, he moved to Uvalde County, Texas, and began his legal practice.
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Soon after commencing his legal practice, Garner became a member of the popular Democratic Party. In 1893, Garner was elected the Texas State Official Judge from Uvalde County, a capacity in which he served until 1896.
In 1898, he entered the political arena and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. He was re-elected in 1900 and served two consecutive terms in the state legislature, until 1902.
During this period a new Congressional District was formed and in 1903, Garner was chosen a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from this newly created Texas's 15th district. He was re-elected to the post 14 subsequent times from the district and served as a Congressman for the next 30 years, until 1933.
In 1929, he served as the Democrat minority floor leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, a position he retained until 1931.
Thereafter, he served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 72nd Congress, between 1931 and 1933.
At the 1932 Democratic National Convention, Garner ran for the party’s Presidential nomination. But, upon realizing shortage of the required votes in his favor, Garner released his delegates from Texas and California to ensure Roosevelt’s nomination for presidency.
In turn,Roosevelt rewarded Garner by adding him to the ticket and selected him as his running mate. In November 1932,John Garner was confirmed for vice presidency of the United States.
In March 1933, Garner was inaugurated at the office and became the 32nd Vice President of the United States, in the Democratic administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1936, he was re-elected for vice presidency and served until 1941.
During his first term as Vice President, Garner used his convincing skills and was greatly instrumental in the passage of important Bills. Highly respected by his colleagues in Congress, he was much involved in the passing of 'New Deal’ program.
However, by 1937, after being re-elected as Vice President, Garner had his disagreements with Roosevelt over his efforts to enlarge the Supreme Court and several other political as well as administrative issues. Subsequently, Garner worked to defeat some of the administration’s legislative proposals.
The rift between the President and Vice President led to Garner’s exclusion as Roosevelt’s running mate when the latter decide to run for a consecutive third term. After an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1940, Garner retired from politics at the end of his second term.
Upon retiring from his public life, Garner moved to his home at Uvalde County, where he spent the last 26 years of his life with his family in peace.
While serving as a Congressman, Garner had a prominent role in advancing the legislation. He supported the graduated income tax and the Federal Reserve System, and was considered as one of the most influential politicians in Congress.
In 1937, he opposed President Roosevelt’s administration over the issue of enlarging the Supreme Court, and helped defeat it over the fact that it bequeathed too much power to the President.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1893, during the election for the County Judge of Uvalde County, Garner was opposed by a woman named Mariette Rheiner, a farmer's daughter. Two years later, in November 1895, John married Mariette in Sabinal, Texas. The couple were blessed with a child, Tully Charles Garner.
John Nance Garner died on November 7, 1967, in Uvalde, Texas, U.S., at the age of 98, shortly before his 99th birthday. He still holds the distinction of being the longest-living Vice President or President in the history of United States. Garner was interred in Uvalde Cemetery in Texas.