Profile of Alben W. Barkley
Political Figure / U.S. Vice President
Date Of Birth:
24 November 1877
Date Of Death:
30 April 1956
Place Of Birth:
Best Known As:
Vice President under Harry S. Truman, 1949-53
Alben William Barkley was a Democrat who served as the vice president under U.S. President Harry S. Truman (1949-53). Raised in rural Kentucky at the end of the 19th century, Barkley studied law in Georgia, Kentucky and Virginia. He went into politics just a few years after being admitted to the Kentucky bar, and he served as an elected prosecutor and county judge before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1912. Barkley served there until 1927, when he was sworn in as a U.S. senator from Kentucky. He was the Senate Majority Leader (1937-47), and a strong supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and actively sought the vice presidential nomination when President Truman ran for re-election in 1948. Barkley was the oldest man to ever hold the office of vice president (he was 71 when inaugurated), but he pursued the job with vigor; he also married a 38 year-old widow while in office. After a failed try at the presidential nomination in the election of 1954, he was once again elected to the U.S. Senate later that year. While speaking at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, he died of a heart attack just after uttering "I would rather be a servant in the house of the Lord, than to sit in the seats of the mighty."
Barkley was the first vice president to be called “Veep,” a nickname he said his 10 year-old grandson came up with.
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