George Hunt Pendleton was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the fourth of seven children in the wealthy and prominent family of Nathanael Greene Pendleton. Nathanael Pendleton served in the War of 1812 and was one of Ohio's representatives in the United States Congress.
George's paternal grandfather, Nathaniel Pendleton, served as an officer on the staff of General George Washington during the Revolutionary War; he also served as a "second" to Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton’s duel with Aaron Burr. George's maternal grandfather was Jesse Hunt, a Revolutionary War Veteran and Ohio pioneer.
Known for his handsome looks and dashing clothing, he was often referred to as "Gentleman George" throughout his life.
On June 6, 1846, in Baltimore, Maryland, Pendleton married Mary Alicia Key, the daughter
|Francis Scott Key|
|Sculpture of Alice Key Pendleton|
by Hiram Powers
|George Pendleton, 1859|
|Harper's Weekly engraving of Daniel Sickles shooting Philip Barton Key|
During the secession crisis, Pendleton called for union through peaceful compromise. Short of that, he preferred a peaceful splitting of the Union based on Southern states' rights to federal force maintaining the Union.
|McClellan & Pendleton 1864|
"The Constitution as It Is - The Hope of the Union"
Their opponents were Abraham Lincoln (Republican President) and Andrew Johnson (Republican nominee for Vice President).
McClellan and Pendleton lost, receiving about 45% of the vote. Pendleton also failed to be re-elected to Congress.
In 1869 he became president of the Kentucky Central Railroad and kept this position until he was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1879. From 1881 to 1885 he was Chairman of the Democratic Conference.
He sponsored the Pendleton Act of 1883, which helped put an end to the system of patronage that was in widespread use at the time. Pendleton favored the replacement of the spoils system with a civil service. Job applicants would have to have at least the minimum qualifications for a position to be appointed to it. On January 16, 1883, President Chester Arthur signed Pendleton's bill into law. Politics and factors such as religion and nationality were to have no bearing on the hiring of civil servants. Although the act initially covered only about 10 percent of the jobs, subsequent legislation increased the percentage and it grew steadily.
In May 1886, Alice, his wife of 40 years, died in a carriage accident in Central Park, New York City. She and her daughters had been visiting her son, Frank, who had recently been widowed. Her daughter, Jane, was also injured in the accident. Alice Pendelton was 61 years old when she died.
|Alice Key Pendleton|
He was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.
|Pendleton Family Plot in Spring Grove Cemetery|
|Grave of George Hunt Pendleton|
|George H. Pendleton House|