Thomas Riley Marshall (March 14, 1854 – June 1, 1925) was an American politician who served as the 28th vice president of the United States from 1913 to 1921 under President Woodrow Wilson. A prominent lawyer in Indiana, he became an active and well known member of the Democratic Party by stumping across the state for other candidates and organizing party rallies that later helped him win election as the 27th governor of Indiana. In office, he proposed controversial changes to the Constitution of Indiana; the state courts blocked his attempts.
Marshall's popularity as Indiana governor, and the state's status as a critical swing state, helped him secure the Democratic vice presidential nomination on a ticket with Wilson in 1912 and win the subsequent general election. An ideological rift developed between the two men during their first term, leading Wilson to limit Marshall's influence in the administration, and his brand of humor caused Wilson to move Marshall's office away from the White House. During Marshall's second term he delivered morale-boosting speeches across the nation during World War I and became the first U.S. vice president to hold cabinet meetings, which he did while Wilson was in Europe. As he was president of the United States Senate, a small number of anti-war Senators kept it deadlocked by refusing to end debate. To enable critical wartime legislation to be passed, Marshall had the body adopt its first procedural rule allowing filibusters to be ended by a two-thirds majority vote—a variation of this rule remains in effect.
Marshall's vice presidency is most remembered for a leadership crisis following a stroke that incapacitated Wilson in October 1919. Because of their personal dislike for Marshall, Wilson's advisers and wife Edith sought to keep him uninformed about the president's condition to prevent him from assuming presidential powers and duties. Many people, including cabinet officials and Congressional leaders, urged Marshall to become acting president, but he refused to forcibly assume Wilson's powers and duties to avoid setting a precedent. Without strong leadership in the executive branch, the administration's opponents defeated the ratification of the League of Nations treaty and effectively returned the United States to an isolationist foreign policy. Marshall is also the only known Vice President of the United States to have been exclusively targeted in an assassination attempt while in office. Marshall was the first Vice President since Daniel D. Tompkins, nearly a century earlier, to serve two full terms.
Marshall was known for his wit and sense of humor; one of his most enduring jokes, which provoked widespread laughter from his colleagues, came during a Senate debate. Responding to Senator Joseph Bristow's catalog of the nation's needs, Marshall quipped that, "What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar." After his terms as vice president, he opened an Indianapolis law practice, where he authored several legal books and his memoir, Recollections. He continued to travel and speak publicly. Marshall died while on a trip after suffering a heart attack in 1925.