A series of proclamations and resolutions over the last year has helped showcase the service to America of John Brooks Henderson.
It all started in the former Missouri U.S. Senator’s hometown of Louisiana, where Mayor Tom Wallace signed a proclamation declaring 2013 as the Year of John Brooks Henderson.
The proclamation states that the city “recognizes the importance of one of its own in changing the course of national history” and “encourages its citizens and others in the community to learn more about the life and works” of Henderson.
The Pike County Commission signed a similar document. It recognizes Henderson for playing “a significant role in American history by co-writing the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning slavery” and continuing “to make history after the Civil War” through efforts on women’s suffrage, acquitting President Andrew Johnson of impeachment charges, working for peace with Native Americans and prosecuting tax cheats as during the Whiskey Ring scandal.
On Sept. 25, U.S. Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, who represents Pike County, recognized Henderson by reading into the Congressional Record a statement honoring him.
Graves called Henderson “a quintessential pioneer man” whose “many contributions to the State of Missouri and the United States…ultimately changed the course of history for this nation.”
On Oct. 25, Missouri State Rep. Jim Hansen of Frankford introduced a resolution about Henderson’s life and legacy that was approved by the Missouri House of Representatives.
The resolution honored Henderson for being “a teacher, lawyer, militia commander, state legislator, United States Senator and author,” and said that members of the House “join unanimously to memorialize (his) life and work.”
The final recognition came on Oct. 28, when Missouri State Sen. Brian Munzlinger of Williamstown introduced and saw to passage a resolution honoring Henderson.
“Whereas, while his participation in passage of the Thirteenth Amendment is sufficient to earn John Brooks Henderson an honored place in our nation’s history, he again conspicuously demonstrated his courage while a Senator in the matter of President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trial, when he broke party ranks, along with six other Republican senators and voted for acquittal, much to the dismay of his constituents (who) denounced, threatened and burned him in effigy.”
Munzlinger goes on to list a famous quote Henderson issued during the impeachment in a telegram to a friend.
“Whereas, on learning how his decision to vote for acquittal was received in Missouri, John Brooks Henderson wired ‘Say to my friends that I am sworn to do impartial justice according to law and conscience, and I will try to do it like an honest man,’ which he did,” Munzlinger wrote.
Louisiana author Brent Engel, who wrote a play about Henderson that was performed during Louisiana Colorfest in October and may be staged again next spring, thanked the legislators and public servants for their efforts.
“All of us who are trying to get the word out about the remarkable life of John Brooks Henderson truly appreciate what those in public office have done to advance his cause,” Engel said. “At a time when the application of the Constitution seems threatened as never before, we must not forget the men and women who once stood, and who still stand, for the rule of law and the sanctity of our national foundations.”