Pictorial and Genealogical Record
of Greene County, Missouri

Together with Bibliographies of Prominent Men of Other Portions of the State, Both Living and Dead


HON. G. G. VEST. One of the leaders in the ranks of brilliant men who, a quarter of a century since, sought their fortunes in this State, and have stamped their impress upon its-history and legislation, is G. G. Vest, who was born in Frankfort, Ky., December 6, 1830; graduated at Center College, Danville, in 1848, and graduated from the law department of Transylvania University four years later as valedictorian of his class, in which were such men as Gen. John M. Harlan, Vice Chancellor James Harlan, and Hon. Isaac Simpson, of San Antonio, Tex. The same year in which he graduated he came to Missouri and hung out a shingle in Georgetown, Pettis County, as a token that be was ready to look after the interests of those who entrusted their affairs in his hands, and his undoubted ability and genius had soon gathered about him a large and profitable clientele. At that time be was very boyish in appearance, in which respect he contrasted strongly with his quiet self-possession, brilliant powers of conversation and ease of manner. Although he came to the State a stranger, without money and without friends, and began practicing at a bar which was noted for the brilliancy of its members, many of whom notable then, are illustrious now, in an incredibly short time he won his way to distinction and carried off the honors in many a bitterly contested legal fight. In 1856 he took up his residence at Boonville, Cooper County, and he became very prominent in his opposition to the Know-Nothing party, his withering sarcasm, witty rejoinders, his magnetic eloquence and masterly illustrations of the shortsightedness of its policy, doing more to drive the party out of the State, than the efforts of any other one man. The interest he took in all matters of public moment, and his talents and popularity, naturally led him into the arena of politics, and being a Kentuckian by birth and education, his sympathies were distinctly Southern. In the Douglas convention of 1860 he was appointed one of the Democratic electors for Missouri, the upper portion of which State he canvassed for Douglas, and the same year be was elected to represent Cooper County in the General Assembly of the State, in which body he served as chairman of the Committee on Federal Relations during the exciting session of 1860-61. He was the author of a bill calling a constitutional convention; of the "Vest Resolutions," denouncing coercion of the Southern States by the Government; and finally of the "Ordinance of Secession" passed by the Southern wing of the Missouri Legislature at Neosho, November 22, 1861. Before the adjournment of this body he was elected a member of the Confederate Provisional Congress at Richmond, Va., and in 1864 was appointed to a seat in its Senate. He did not return to Missouri until 1867, when he took up his residence in Sedalia. In 1872 he became a delegate at large of the Democratic party to Baltimore, and was an active worker for the nomination of Horace Greeley for the Presidency. He was defeated by Phelps for the nomination for governor in 1876, although he was undoubtedly the choice of his party in the State, and had he been nominated would have undoubtedly been elected. Col. Vest is a man of medium height, of fine physique, and is undoubtedly prepossessing in personal appearance. His distinctive quality is great personal magnetism, wonderful powers of oratory, and he sways his audience as he wills, moving men to laughter or tears. He is fertile in resources, is apt in illustration, and in manners is courteous to all, genial and kindly, and is in every way worthy of his position as one of the most brilliant legal lights and politicians of the country. He is probably the most talented and influential member of the United States Senate since Benton's time, and is an honor to the State of his adoption as well as to his country.

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