Charles W. Fairbanks

From Ohio History Central

Charles Warren Fairbanks was born in Union County, Ohio, on May 11, 1852. As a young man, Fairbanks attended Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, receiving his bachelor of arts degree in 1872. After graduation, Fairbanks worked as an agent for the Associated Press in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Cleveland, Ohio. At the same time, he began to study the law. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1874.

In 1874, Fairbanks moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where he opened a law office. On October 6, 1874, he married Cornelia Cole. Fairbanks was a successful attorney. Many of his clients were railroad corporations. He became involved in state politics as a member of the Republican Party. In 1892, 1898, and again in 1914, Fairbanks served as the chairman of Indiana's Republican conventions. He first ran for office in 1893, when he attempted to gain nomination to the United States Senate. Fairbanks was unsuccessful in his efforts in 1893 but three years later was able to gain election to the Senate. He was reelected to his seat in 1902. He served as chairman of the American commissioners on the United States and British Joint High Commission for the Adjustment of Canadian Questions in 1898. Fairbanks also chaired two committees while in the Senate: the Committee on Immigration and the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds.

By the early twentieth century, Fairbanks had become a well-respected member of the national Republican Party. When Theodore Roosevelt ran for president in 1904, Fairbanks ran as his vice president. He resigned from the Senate on March 3, 1905, to become Vice President of the United States. He served one term as vice president, as Roosevelt chose not to run for reelection in 1908. Fairbanks unsuccessfully attempted to gain the vice-presidential nomination again in 1916, when Charles E. Hughes was chosen as the Republican presidential candidate.

After leaving politics, Fairbanks returned to Indianapolis and began to practice law once again. In addition to his political interests, Fairbanks was involved in a number of other efforts. He was a trustee of his alma mater, Ohio Wesleyan University, as well as of American University and DePauw University. He was president of the Indiana Forestry Association and became president of the Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Fairbanks died in Indianapolis on June 4, 1918.

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