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United States speakers of the House crayon portraits

Identifier: A026

Scope and Contents

This collection includes 3 crayon englargments of portraits, circa 1860-1920, depicting men from Indiana who became speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives: John W. Davis, Schuyler Colfax, and Michael C. Kerr.


  • circa 1860-1920

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

John Wesley Davis was born April 16, 1799 in New Holland, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. His family moved to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania where he married Ann Hoover in 1820. The couple had 10 children. Davis graduated from Baltimore Medical College in 1821, then moved to Carlisle, Indiana in 1823. Dr. Davis was a Democrat who served 6 terms in the Indiana House of Representatives and then four terms in the U.S. House (1835-1837; 1839-1841; 1843-1847). He served as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from December 1, 1845 to March 4, 1847. He was an Indian commissioner in 1834; ambassador to China (1848-1850); and governor of the Oregon Territory (1853-1854). Davis died on August 22, 1859 in Carlisle, Indiana and was buried in City Cemetery. ----- Schuyler Colfax was born in New York City on March 23, 1823. In 1836, his family moved to New Carlisle, Indiana. After education in local schools, Colfax was appointed deputy auditor of St. Joseph County in 1841. he married Evelyn Chase in 1844. Colfax became a legislative correspondent for the Indiana State Journal; he then became part owner of the South Bend Free Press and changed its name in 1845 to the St. Joseph Valley Register. He also served as a member of the Indiana Constitutional Convention in 1850. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican in 1854, Colfax served 7 terms. From 1859 to 1861, he was chairman of the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, and responsible for reorganizing the overland mail service to California. In 1863, Colfax was elected speaker of the House of Representatives, and held this office for 3 terms. Next, he was elected vice president of the United States on the ticket headed by General Ulysses S. Grant in 1868. Colfax was an unsuccessful candidate for the vice presidential nomination in 1872 due to his being implicated in the "Credit Mobilier" scandal. He was among those members of Congress accused by Oakes Ames of receiving stock and dividends in the company in tern for their influence. This incident effectively ended his political career. Colfax continued on as a lecturer, speaking both about his travels and various other subjects. He died in Mankato, Minnesota on January 13, 1885 and was interred in South Bend, Indiana. ----- Michael Crawford Kerr was born on March 15, 1827 in Titusville, Crawford County, Pennsylvania. He attended Erie Academy and graduated with a law degree from the University of Louisville in Kentucky. Kerr moved to New Albany, Indiana where he practiced law in 1851. He attained the positions of city attorney in 1851 and Floyd County prosecutor in 1855, before being elected to the Indiana House of Representatives (1856-1857). Kerr served as report of the Indiana Supreme Court (1862-1865), then elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives (1865-1873; 1875-1876). He became speaker of the House on December 6, 1875 and served until his death. Kerr died at Rockbridge Alum Springs, Virginia on August 19, 1876 and was buried in Fairview Cemetery in New Albany, Indiana. Sources: Finding aids. Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, Indiana State Library. Accessed September 22, 2023. United States Congress. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed September 22, 2023. Wikipedia. "John Wesley Davis." Accessed September 22, 2023. Wikipedia. "Michael C. Kerr." Accessed September 22, 2023. Wikipedia. "Schuyler Colfax" Accessed September 22, 2023.


0.45 Cubic Feet (3 extra-large oversize folders)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically by term as speaker.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2023/09/22 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid created 2023/09/22 by Brittany Kropf.
United States speakers of the House crayon portraits
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Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.