Charles Curtis – Native American Vice-President

Charles Curtis

Charles Curtis

Charles Curtis, of Kanza Indian descent, was an attorney, United States Senator, and 31st Vice President of the United States.

Curtis was born in Topeka, Kansas, on January 25, 1860, and educated in public schools. Afterward, he studied law and, in 1881, was admitted to the bar. He then worked in a legal partnership until 1884, when he was elected County Attorney of Shawnee County.

On November 27, 1884, he married Annie E. Baird of Topeka. At the close of his first term as city attorney in 1886, he was re-elected for a second term of two years. In 1892, he was nominated by the Republicans of the Fourth Congressional District for Congress, and in November was elected. He served in Congress until he was elected to the Senate, first by the Kansas Legislature and then by popular vote in 1920. Curtis served in the Senate from 1915 to 1929. His wife Annie died in 1924.

After the landslide victory of the Republican ticket in 1928, Curtis resigned from the Senate to serve as Vice-President to Herbert Hoover as President. The Republicans were defeated in the next election, and Curtis’ term as Vice President ended on March 4, 1933.

Curtis stayed in Washington, D.C., and resumed his legal career. He died there on February 8, 1936, of a heart attack. His body was returned to Kansas and buried at the Topeka Cemetery.

He was the first person with acknowledged non-European ancestry to reach either of the two highest offices in the United States government’s executive branch. He was the last until Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. Curtis was also the first multiracial person to serve as vice president, a legacy he held solely until Kamala Harris’s inauguration in 2021.  He is also the last unmarried person to serve as Vice President in the White House

Compiled and edited by Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated January 2024.

Also See:

Kansas Destinations

Kansas History

Kansas Home Page

People of Kansas


Blackmar, Frank W.; Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Vol I; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912.