Curtis was the first elected member of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government with non-European roots. His grandmother was a Kaw Indian, and he was proud of his Native American heritage (while Vice President he decorated his office with artifacts of Native American life). Rising in the Republican Party ranks to being Senate Majority Leader in the 1920s, he tried to get the Vice Presidential nomination in 1924, but lost to Charles Dawes. Four years later he was nominated to run with Herbert Hoover, and they won. But they inherited the Great Wall Street Crash and the Depression. Curtis, when a wheeler dealer in the Senate, was well liked, but the chance of being Vice President went to his head - and he became stuffy. He also made questionable suggestions, thinking an alliance with the "Goat Gland" "doctor" John Brinkley was one that should be picked up on because Brinkley had a radio following in the Midwest affecting four states. He also felt that Al Capone would be good to ally with for "image problems due to the depression" because Capone set up some soup kitchens in Chicago. Then when the Bonus Marchers came up to Washington in 1932, Hoover, Secretary of War General Patrick Hurley, and Chief of Staff. General Douglas MacArthur were surprised one day to find Curtis ordered soldiers to the Capitol Building to protect it from the Marchers whom Curtis thought were planning to come in and take it over. They were surprised because the Vice President doesn't have that power. Curtis did hire a female secretary (a first in the Executive Branch of the government). However, when an African-American delegation of voters were visiting Washington, Curtis refused to shake their hands! In 1932 he also made a comment that he thought most people too dumb to understand what the officials (like himself) had to understand about policy and laws. Hoover had more than enough on his own plate due to the mess of the Depression, and hoped to replace Curtis on the ticket with Charles Dawes (but Dawes said no!). Curtis hoped to push Hoover off the ticket and get the Presidential nomination himself. He didn't. His last major achievement was to appear at the opening of the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and deliver the opening welcome to the international athletes. In November he and Hoover were defeated by John Nance Garner and Franklin Roosevelt. Curtis stayed in Washington practicing law until he died in 1936.