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Henry F. Schricker

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Henry F. Schricker

Henry F. Schricker
Henry F. Schricker, First Term Official Portrait
38th Governor of Indiana
In office
January 10, 1949 – January 12, 1953
Lieutenant John A. Watkins
Rue J. Alexander
Preceded by Ralph F. Gates
Succeeded by George N. Craig
36th Governor of Indiana
In office
January 13, 1941 – January 8, 1945
Lieutenant Charles M. Dawson
Preceded by M. Clifford Townsend
Succeeded by Ralph F. Gates
34th Lieutenant Governor of Indiana
In office
January 13, 1937 – January 8, 1941
Governor M. Clifford Townsend
Preceded by M. Clifford Townsend
Succeeded by Charles M. Dawson
Member of the Indiana State Senate
In office
Personal details
Born (1883-08-30)August 30, 1883
North Judson, Indiana
Died December 28, 1966(1966-12-28) (aged 83)
Knox, Indiana
Resting place Crown Hill Cemetery

Knox, Indiana

Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Maude Schricker
Profession Lawyer
Religion Lutheran

Henry Frederick Schricker (30 August 1883 – 28 December 1966) was the 36th and 38th Governor of the American state of Indiana from 1941 to 1945 and from 1949 to 1953. He is the only Indiana governor elected to two non-consecutive terms, and the only governor between 1852 and 1977 to be elected to more than one term in office. His terms were marked by strong opposition party control of the Indiana General Assembly, which attempted to remove powers from the governor that had been bestowed during the Great Depression. Schricker fought the attempt in the state courts, and although his power was significantly reduced, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in the case of Tucker v. Indiana that the governor was the Chief Executive of the state, and the legislature could not pass legislation that interfered with the division of powers.


  • Early life 1
    • Family and background 1.1
    • Legislator 1.2
  • Governor 2
    • First term 2.1
    • Second term 2.2
  • Later years 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Family and background

Henry Fredrick Schricker was born in North Judson, Indiana, on August 30, 1883, to Bavarian immigrants Fredrick and Magdelena Gray Schricker. Schricker attended a Lutheran parochial school in North Judson through elementary school, and then attended a public school and completed grade eight. After graduation, he began working in his family's grocery store as a bookkeeper. His parents sent him to a local college to take a course in bookkeeping as the final step in his education. After working in the grocery store for nine years, Schricker decided to become a lawyer and worked toward that goal by taking a position in the Starke County, Indiana, clerk's office in Knox, Indiana.[1]

After a year of studying law on the side, he passed the bar examination and began practing law in Knox with his mentor, Adrian Courtright. He became the cashier of the North Dakota, who had originally come from Knox. In 1914, Henry visited her and convinced her to return to Knox, which resulted in their marriage on October 21, 1914. In 1919, he returned to his previous career, and became the cashier of the First National Bank of Knox.[1]


Schricker's first entry into politics was his run for the Indiana State Senate in 1924 as a Democrat. After losing the race, he retained his cashier position and continued there until 1932, when he again ran for the State Senate and won. During his term in the senate he drafted legislation to creat a new circuit court district for Starke County. Another important bill he created was one creating a tenure system for state teachers, which guaranteed the teachers they would remain employed by the state upon completely a certain number of years in state service. A third bill created a pension fund for firemen in the state. All three of his proposed bills were passed and signed into law.[2]

He was nominated to run again for reelection to the senate in 1936, but turned down the nomination after Governor Paul V. McNutt arranged for the convention to nominate him to run for Lieutenant Governor of Indiana on a ticket with M. Clifford Townsend. McNutt was considered to be significantly more conservative than Townsend, and party leaders believed he would help draw more Republican votes.[2] Townsend and Schricker won the election and took office in January 1937.[3]

As President of the Democratic controlled Senate, Schricker helped pass welfare measures supported by Townsend. As Lieutenant Governor he was also head of the state's agricultural department and spend considerable time traveling around the state for meetings with leaders of farming communities. The state Democratic party was in the midst of a dispute during term, with the McNutt and Frank Van Nuys faction opposing President Franklin D. Roosevelt's plan to stack the United States Supreme Court. Roosevelt intervened in the state party affairs, and with the support of Townsend attempted to remove the state's United States Senators who were blocking his plan. Schricker did not takes sides in the debate which McNutt ultimately won, and instead tried to avoid the capitol. His traveling effectively turned into a four-year campaign for the governship as he gained support around the state.[3]

At the 1940 state Democratic Party Convention, Schricker won the nomiantion for governor on the second ballot, winning the majority of the delegates from the rural parts of the state. Opinion had turned strongly against the Democrats in the last year, primarily over welfare spending. To win the election, Schricker focused on his personal popularity, rather than his connection to the Democratic party. He won the election by less than 4,000 votes and was the only Democrat elected in any statewide election. Republicans swept power and took strong majorities in the General Assembly for the first time in fifteen years. Part of the Republican platform had been to remove the state from the federal welfare system, revoke the massive increase in power granted to the governor by the Executive Reorganization Act, and cut spending and taxes.[4]


First term

As Schricker took office in January 1941, the battle with the General Assembly was inevitable. Once convened they immediately repealed the Executive Reoganization Act that stripped the governor of his direct authority over numerous government agencies and his authority to appoint officials, which reverted to the Assembly. Schricker openly supported the repeal of the act, stating he had no desire for "dictatorial powers."[5] However, when the bill arrived to be signed into law, he vetoed it claiming that as it was written it would reduce his status to that of an "errand boy."[5] Only a simple majority was required to override his veto, which the Assembly promptly did.[5]

Republicans soon continued their attempt limit the governor's power, and passed the State Administration Act of 1941. The bill reorganized the state into five administrative departments, with only the smallest that consisted of the governor's aids remaining under the direct authority of the governor. The other four agencies were placed under the control of a three person board of commissioners. The boards would consist of the governor and two Assembly appointed commissioners. The arrangement would effectively granted the Assembly manage the departments. Schricker vetoed the bill when it reached his desk, but again it was overrode. When the Assembly adjourned in April, Schricker filed a suit in the state court, claiming the bill violated the division of powers. The Marion County Circuit court stayed the law until the matter could be reviewed by the Indiana Supreme Court.[5]

Republican Indiana Secretary of State James M. Tucker filed a counter suit claiming the state courts had no authority to stay an act of the legislature, and accusing the court of violating the division of powers. The case of Tucker v. State came before the Supreme Court who ruled on the matter stating that the governor was the chief executive of the state, and that the legislature could not pass legislation that infringed upon that power. They declared the State Administration Act to be unconsititional in a vote of four to one. The court at the time had a four to one Democratic majority on the court, and they voted on party lines.[6]

Schricker refused to call a special session of the General Assembly. The legislature was unable to reconvened until 1943 when the promptly passed a bill to reform the patronage system, and transferred most of the state's agencies to the merit system already employed in some agencies. They also took over the Two Percent Fund that required all state employees to contribute two percent of their income to a fund that supported the Democratic Party. By creating a board to oversee the fund, they guaranteed that it would be split equally between both parties. Schricker vetoed the bill, but the legislature again overrode it.[6]

Indiana governors at that time were not permitted to serve consecutive terms. As his term in office ended, Shricker was nominated to run for the United States Senate. The race was hard fought, but Schricker was defeated by incumbent Homer E. Capehart by 1.3% of the vote.[6] It was later revealed the Schricker had been offered the Vice Presidency by Roosevelt for his final term in office, but had declined. Schriker later stated that he was aware of Roosevelt's poor health and did not feel himself capable of becoming President during a war; Roosevelt subsequently died in office and was succeeded by his Vice President, Harry S. Truman.

Second term

Governor Henry F. Schricker, Official Second Term Portrait

Schricker returned to private life by joining the American Fletcher National Bank and Trust Company of Indianapolis. However, he ran for the governorship again in 1948 and won, becoming Indiana's first governor to be elected to two non-consecutive terms, and the second to serve non-consecutive terms. The Indiana Constitution bars an individual from holding the position of governor for more than two terms, so Schricker completed his second term and cofounded the Wabash Fire and Casualty Insurance Company of Indianapolis. During the Kentucky Derby weekend in 1949, Schricker authorized a crackdown on illegal gambling in Orange County, Indiana, near the French Lick Springs Hotel.

Democrats held a small majority in the General Assembly during Schricker's first two years in office, but in the mid-terms Republicans again took power. They had been advocating for the state to open the welfare records to the public, so the amount of money spent, and to whom it was going, could be made known. This was in violation of federal welfare laws, and would result in a loss of federal funding for the state welfare system. Schricker vetoed the bill, but the legislature overrode it. The federal government immediately cut off funding, creating an $18 million budget deficit for the state. Schricker called a special session of the legislature to resolve the financial situation, but no solution could be agreed upon. Instead they issued a bill that delayed enactment of their public welfare records by two years. Meanwhile, U.S. Senator William E. Jenner successfully introduced legislation at the federal level to prevent the state from losing its funding once the bill did go into effect.[7]

Schricker left office with government having a $115 million surplus fund due to the state's frugal spending, and his own support of the spending plans. The state's highway system, public schools, and prisons had suffered during the years though because of their neglect.[7]

Later years

Schricker was a popular Hoosier politician known for his small-town boy charm and his signature white hat. He was in demand as a speaker, and his advice and sanction were sought by Democratic candidates. He received national recognition when he was chosen to deliver the joint nomination speech for Adlai Stevenson at the Democratic National Convention in 1952. This same year, Schricker again ran for the U.S. Senate and again lost to the Republican incumbent, William E. Jenner, this time by 5.6% of the vote. He retired to Knox in 1960, but remained active in civic affairs and played a role as himself in the 1962 movie Johnny Holiday. He died on December 28, 1966.[8]

See also



  1. ^ a b Gugin, p. 299
  2. ^ a b Gugin, p. 300
  3. ^ a b Gugin, p. 301
  4. ^ Gugin, p. 302
  5. ^ a b c d Gugin, p. 303
  6. ^ a b c Gugin, p. 304
  7. ^ a b Gugin, p. 305
  8. ^ Gugin, p. 306


  • Gugin, Linda C. & St. Clair, James E, ed. (2006). The Governors of Indiana. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Historical Society Press.  

External links

  • Indiana Historical Bureau: Biography and portrait
  • Political Graveyard
  • Starke County Historical Society Profile
Political offices
Preceded by
M. Clifford Townsend
Lieutenant Governor of Indiana
January 13, 1937 - January 8, 1941
Succeeded by
Charles M. Dawson
Preceded by
M. Clifford Townsend
Governor of Indiana
January 13, 1941 - January 8, 1945
Succeeded by
Ralph F. Gates
Preceded by
Ralph F. Gates
Governor of Indiana
January 10, 1949 - January 12, 1953
Succeeded by
George N. Craig
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