|Oh, look at me, President Truman's giving me some fancy Congressional service gold medal.|
Barkley briefly enrolled in a seminary, but then was like, "No thanks, Jesus," and got a scholarship and a job as a janitor at Marvin College in Clinton, Kentucky. There he did debating and fraternity-ing and whatnot and also became a Methodist. He moved on to Emory College (now University) in Georgia for grad school or something, but was too poor to keep it up. He taught back at Marvin for awhile, but that wouldn't pay his bills either. He got jobs with congressmen and lawyers, whose books he used to read the law. He passed the bar and then went to UVA Law School for a bit, because I guess that's how that worked around the turn of the century. In 1903 he married Dorothy Brower, with whom he would have three children. In addition to having babies and becoming a lawyer Barkley was a lay preacher and member of numerous fraternal organizations, including the Improved Order of Red Men, which doesn't sound racist at all.
Barkley identified as a Democrat early on, but one who was for sticking to the gold standard (a very controversial and boring issue at this time, if you will recall from those chapters in your history textbook you skimmed over between the Civil War and WWI). In 1905, Barkley was elected to his first office: county attorney, moving up to county judge three years later. He was known for rooting out financial corruption in government. In 1912, he ran for Congress. More conservative Democratic opponents called him a socialist for supporting federal funding of highway construction, but he was ushered into office on Woodrow Wilson's progressive coattails. During this time, Barkley stuck closely to his religious, teetotaling roots (BORING) and spoke for the Anti-Saloon League as well as sponsoring bills to ban the sale of alcohol in D.C. Though he initially endorsed American neutrality during World War I, he supported Wilson and the war effort upon the U.S.'s entry in 1917. He was also a supporter of the ill-fated League of Nations.
|Proof he was not always an old man.**|
Though passed over as VP once again in favor of awesomely communist John Nance Garner in 1940, Barkley continued to support FDR in the Senate what with the declaration of war and whatnot, though apparently was insulted when not offered an open seat on the Supreme Court. Some shenanigans that are boring involving some kind of revenue bill ultimately broke the alliance between Barkley and Roosevelt, and Truman was chosen as FDR's fourth term running mate instead. Barkley supported the U.S.'s involvement in the U.N. and was instrumental in the development of the coordinated Department of Defense after heading up a congressional investigation of the Pearl Harbor attack. Unfortunately, Barkley's wife Dorothy fell into ill health. She had heart problems and Barkley went on the speaking circuit while Congress was out of session to help pay their many medical bills. They even sold their house and moved into an apartment to save money, but she died in 1947. A Republican resurgence in the midterm elections of 1946 didn't help the situation in Congress, but Barkley was eventually asked to keynote the DNC once again in 1948, and though Truman's second choice, became the vice presidential candidate.
|Stone-cold getting remarried while VP. St. Louis Post-Dispatch|
*I think I have somehow missed writing up Harry Truman. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!
**Though he does look kind of cuddly and avuncular as an old man.