"Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House of Representatives, was asked by President Abraham Lincoln on April 14 to take a message to the miners of the West, that their prosperity is the prosperity of the nation. These may have been Lincoln's last words on public subjects, as he was shot later that evening at Ford Theater, Washington, D.C.
In May 1865 Colfax traveled 2,000 miles by stagecoach, reaching San Francisco on July 1, 1865. The slow journey emphasized the need for a railroad to the Pacific. Colfax traveled by special train on the new Central Pacific Railroad, 56 miles from Sacramento to Colfax, and along the working sections on horseback and by coach. Track was graded and laid and trains were running to the town of Colfax, named for the Speaker. The Transcontinental Railroad would unite the Atlantic regions and the Pacific regions of our nation.
Colfax went on to be vice president under Ulysses S. Grant, 1869-1873."
This is written on the dedication plaque at the base of Schuyler Colfax's monument.
Schuyler Colfax was born in New York in 1823 and moved with his family to South Bend, Indiana in 1836. There, he showed an early interest in politics and journalism. At age 22, he purchased an interest in the South Bend Free Press, which then became the St. Joseph Valley Register, a very prominent newspaper in Indiana. He fulfilled his early ambitions for public life, and for many years was a successful editor and an admired politician.
Mr. Colfax was elected as a Republican to the 34th and the six succeeding Congresses during the next fourteen years (1855-1869). His tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives included three terms as Speaker. His eloquence on many subjects was legendary. Among his accomplishments was the idea of bringing the United States mail to every outpost and hamlet of the country. He fought for this and obtained his goal after many years of struggle. He was a great defender of veteran's rights and fought for their welfare.
Colfax was also known as a great proponent of the expansion of the country to the West. His visit to the Colfax area and his eloquent speech in 1865 convinced legislators to approve the plans and the funding for uniting the country by means of the Transcontinental Railroad.
He was elected Vice President of the United States on the Republican ticket with General Ulysses Grant in 1868 and served four years. He was not re-elected due to involvement with other congressmen in the Credit Mobilier financial scandal of Grant's first term. Even though formal charges against him were never brought, he was unable to "prove his innocence." His career damaged, he retired to travel and lectures. He died on January 13, 1885.
The Colfax Monument is located at Railroad Street and Grass Valley Street in Colfax, California. This is the only known statue of Schuyler Colfax in the United States. The Colfax Garden Club maintains the lovely seasonal flower gardens nearby.