Magazine April 5, 2021, Issue

Charles Curtis, Forgotten Veep

Charles Curtis (Corbis via Getty Images)
Herbert Hoover’s vice president blazed an early trail for racial inclusion

Charles Curtis had a favorite line in his stump speeches: “I’m one-eighth Kaw Indian and 100 percent Republican!” He used the quip so much that his Democratic foes tried to turn it against him: Curtis, they retorted, was “one-eighth Kaw Indian and seven-eighths incompetent!”

Perhaps one day historians will join the dispute over the man who was Herbert Hoover’s vice president. First, however, they’ll have to pay attention. Until recently, they haven’t bothered. Curtis is one of the most overlooked veeps in American history. The subject of precisely zero scholarly biographies, he shows up briefly, when he shows up at all,

This article appears as “The Forgotten Veep” in the April 5, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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