News11 Remembers: T.H. Benton
ST. LOUIS, MO. (KPLR) – For many Missourians the mention of the name “Thomas Hart Benton” leads to nothing but confusion. Was he a famous senator or a famous painter?
Paul Schankman has the explanation in this week`s News 11 Remembers.
There are two famous Missourians who have the same identical name, one is a very prominent famous politician, Thomas Hart Benton, and the other is a very famous artist Thomas Hart Benton.
And it`s not a coincidence the famous painter was the great nephew of the famous politician, who made politics a kind of art.
‘Benton was elected one of its first two senators and he served in the U.S. Senate from 1821 till 1851. We are talking 30 years in the senate which in that day and age was a really long time. He was one of the most powerful politicians of his time; he was respected all over the United States.’
He was known for having strong positions on several controversial issues of his time. But perhaps the one he is most noted for was his love of the west.
Benton was very much in favor or encouraging people to move west. He supported efforts on the part of the united state to annex territory in the west, especially in the wake of the Mexican war. He was very much pro what ultimately became homestead acts which gave people free land in return for their willingness to settle and work.
He deserves to be commemorated, he was the most articulate spokesman for the west and settlement of the west and making sure that governmental policy favored the west. He was the most outspoken advocate for those things in the history of the United States.
Thomas Hart Benton was originally from North Carolina, born into a family that long held slaves. And yet, when the issue of expanding slavery to the west came before the senate, Benton opposed it, a position that eventually caused him to lose his seat, though he turned around and ran for the U.S. House and won.
News 11 remembers is brought to you by the Missouri History Museum and America’s best contacts and eyeglasses. I`m Paul Schankman.