No matter what we think about the past couple of weeks, we Hoosiers might remember that Indiana has a lot to be proud of. No, this is not, I repeat, not, a political column. It is a column about Hoosier pride or why Indiana has so many smart people!
First of all, remember that Indiana has had six vice presidents and only New York beat us with more. Not only that, two men ran for vice-president that did not win. Sure, only one president has been from Indiana, but there are many years in the future for us to compete in that contest. And you know what? A man from Indiana was the chief architect of the 25th Amendment.
Today we might think about that 25th Amendment to the Constitution that we’ve heard so much about this past weeks. Larry A. Conrad wrote it. OK, he is the “chief architect” of it. Chief Architect means to me that he wrote it and then a few others read it over, suggested a few small changes and so on.
Here’s a little about Conrad that you can find in the Ruth Lilly Special Collections & Archives under Larry Allyn Conrad Papers (1947-1993). There was an excellent book written by Raymond H. Scheele, Professor and Chair in the Department of Political Science at Ball State University. The title of the book is “Larry Conrad – A Biography.” Conrad was born in Laconia, Indiana, in 1935, (Laconia is a town in Boone Township, Harrison County). The population was 50 at the 2010 census according to Wikipedia. He graduated from Ball State University in 1957 and married that same year to Mary Lou Hoover. He then went to Indiana University- Indianapolis School of Law and graduated in 1961.
At that point, in 1962, he became interested in politics when Birch Bayh (another Hoosier) asked him to manage his campaign for the United States Senate. When Bayh won he asked Conrad to be his legislative assistant. Successful again, so Bayh then asked him to be the Chief Counsel of the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, and that is how Conrad became known as the chief architect of the 25th Amendment. (Birch Bayh was the father of Evan Bayh, another Hoosier).
Conrad campaigned twice, unsuccessfully, to become Governor of Indiana but lost to Matt Welsh and later to Otis “Doc” Bowen. After leaving public office, he became one of the leading figures in the movement to rebuild and revitalize Indianapolis.
Conrad did a lot for Indiana, certainly a lot more than I was aware of, and he worked long and hard to make Indiana and especially Indianapolis a more up to date place. He was in charge of the opening ceremonies for the National Sports Festival in 1982, and for both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Tenth Pan American Games in 1987.
And those six Hoosier vice-presidents and who the president was when they were elected? See if you can name them. I couldn’t, but looked them up and found: Schulyler Colfax (R) – 17th VP from 1869-1873 (Grant), Thomas A. Hendricks (D) – 21st VP in 1885 (Cleveland), Charles W. Fairbanks (R) – 26th VP from 1905-1909 (Taft), Thomas R. Marshall (D) – 28th VP from 1913-1921 (Wilson), Dan Quayle (R) – 44th VP from 1989-1993 (Bush) and Mike Pence (R) – 48th VP from 2017-present (Trump). The two who didn’t make it were William English in 1880 and John Kern in 1908.
Another possible point of discussion would be why Indiana has only had one president, Benjamin Harrison, but six vice presidents. But, we won’t dwell on that today. We’ll just remember that a man from Indiana wrote the 25thAmendment. And that Indiana is full of good, smart people.
Thank you Melissa.