Stratton House Inn :: Early Ohio: A Brief History, Part 3 -- From the War of 1812 to the Civil War, 1861-1865.
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by Henry Howe.

See previous entry: Early Ohio: A Brief History, Part 2 -- From the Ordinance of 1787 to the State of Ohio.

The Indians, since the treaty at Greenville had been at relative peace, but about the year 1810 they began to commit aggressions upon the inhabitants of the West. The celebrated Tecumseh was particularly active in his efforts to unite the native tribes against the Americans, and to arrest the farther extension of settlements. His efforts, and those of his brother -- "the Prophet" -- soon made it evident that the West was about to suffer another Indian war. The respective governments were proactive in anticipation of their movements. In 1811 Gen. Harrison, then Governor of Indiana Territory, marched against the town of the "Prophet," on the Wabash River. The Battle of Tippecanoe occurred in what is now Cass County, Indiana. The Indians were totally defeated. This year also marked another occurrence of equally immense importance to the whole West. This was the voyage, from Pittsburgh to New Orleans, of the first steamboat ever launched on the western rivers.

In June 1812, the United States declared war against Great Britain. The West was a principal theater of this war. Defeat, disaster, and disgrace marked its opening scenes for the Americans; but the latter events of the contest were a series of splendid achievements. Croghan's gallant defence of Fort Stephenson; Perry's victory on Lake Erie; the total defeat, by Harrison, of the allied British and Indian forces under Proctor and Tecumseh, on the Thames River; and the great closing triumph of Andrew Jackson at New Orleans, reflected very positively on American forces.

Throughout this war, even during the bleakest moments, the conduct of Ohio was consistently patriotic and honorable. When the necessities of the national Government forced Congress to resort to a direct tax, Ohio, for successive years, cheerfully assumed and promptly paid her quota out of her state treasury. Her sons enthusiastically volunteered their services in the field; and no troops more patiently endured hardship or performed better service. Hardly a battle was fought in the Old Northwest in which some of these brave citizen soldiers did not seal their devotion to their country with their blood.

In 1816 the seat of the state government was moved to Columbus, the proprietors of the town having erected the Statehouse and other public buildings for the accommodation of the legislature and the officers of the state.

In January 1817, the first resolution relating to a canal connecting the Ohio River with Lake Erie was introduced into the legislature. In 1819 the subject was again advanced. In 1820, on recommendation of Gov. Brown, an act was passed providing for the appointment of three canal commissioners, who were to employ a competent engineer and assistants for the purpose of surveying the route of the canal. The action of the commissioners, however, was made to depend on the acceptance of the United States Congress of a proposition -- on behalf of the state -- for a donation and sale of public lands lying upon and near the route of the proposed canal. As a result of this restriction nothing was accomplished for two years.

In 1822 the subject was referred to a committee of the United States House of Representatives. This committee recommended the employment of an engineer, and submitted various estimates and observations to illustrate the importance and feasibility of the work. Under this act James Geddes, of New York, an experienced and skilful engineer, was employed to make the necessary examinations and surveys. Finally, after all the routes had been surveyed, and estimates made of the expense had been laid before the legislature at several sessions, an act was passed in February 1825 -- "to provide for the internal improvement of the State by navigable canals." Thereupon the state embarked on this extensive engineering and construction effort.

The construction of the canals gave new life to the development of the state. First, the construction work supplied funds to the settlers along their routes, and then opened a market for their agricultural products. These products, in many sections, previously had had next to no cash value. This problem, along with extensive sickness related to opening up the wilderness, had caused settlement to languish.

The total canal mileage in the state grew to 788 miles by the late 1880s. Related reservoirs covered an area of 32,100 acres, or over fifty square miles. The total cost was about sixteen million dollars.

Railroads soon followed. The first railroad west of New York state was the "Erie & Kalamazoo," which ran from Toledo, Ohio, to Adrian, Michigan. It was opened with horse-power [it was pulled by a horse] in the fall of 1836. A locomotive was introduced in July 1837, the first used in the West. The next railroad in Ohio was the "Mad River & Lake Erie," which was incorporated in 1832, with a prospective route from Dayton via Springfield to Sandusky. Construction was begun in 1835, and in 1839 a portion opened -- sixteen miles from Sandusky to Bellvue -- and the second locomotive in Ohio was used there. Ten years later, in 1848, this road, in connection with the "Little Miami Railway," which was built from Cincinnati to Springfield, formed the first through line across the state. The second through line from Lake Erie to the Ohio River was opened in 1851 under the name of the "Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Little Miami Railroad." The next year chronicled the opening of a third line, which ran from Cleveland to Pittsburgh. By 1887, the railroads of Ohio had developed to 9,849 miles of track, on which, along with equipment, nearly 500 million dollars had been invested.

In 1835 the long dispute between Ohio and Michigan in relation to the boundary line between them culminated in what was termed the "Toledo War." Both states assembled their troops, but before any opening of hostilities occurred peace commissioners from the President arrived on the ground. The next year Congress decided in favor of Ohio. In compensation for relinquishing her claims, Michigan received the large peninsula bounded by the three great lakes -- the Upper Peninsula of Michigan -- which was extremely rich in natural and mineral wealth.

In the decade between 1830 and 1840 Ohio made surprising progress, largely due to the development of her canal system. Her population increased 68 percent, and she became the third largest state of the Union with 1,519,467 inhabitants. Cincinnati, then her chief city, had a population of 46,338; Columbus, 6,048; Cleveland, 6,071, and Dayton 6,067, were the three next in order. Her manufacturing and commercial interests were expanding along with her agriculture, and mining had also begun. The number of men employed in mining was about 620.

In 1840 occurred the famous "Hard Cider and Log Cabin Campaign," which resulted in the election of Whig candidate General William Henry Harrison to the Presidency. In Ohio, the Whig candidate for governor, Thomas Corwin, was elected by a majority of 16,000 votes over Wilson Shannon. Two years later Corwin was defeated by Shannon, who thus became the first Governor born on Ohio soil.

For the war with Mexico, declared in 1846, Ohio supplied four regiments of volunteers and a company -- over 5,536 men, more than any other northern state, of whom 57 were killed and wounded. One of the regiments, the Second, was commanded by Col. George W. Morgan, of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, later a brigadier-general in the Civil War.

In this same year, 1846, bituminous coal was introduced in Ohio as a furnace fuel at Lowellville, in Mahoning County. This was an event of great importance to the development of the iron industry of the state and country. Its initial use in iron production had occurred the year before in an adjoining county in Pennsylvania.

During this period the slavery question assumed such importance as to soon revolutionize the politics of the state. In the legislative session of 1848-1849, members were nearly equally divided between the Whigs and Democrats, with two Free Soilers -- Messrs. N.S. Townshend, of Lorain County, and John F. Morse, of Lake County -- holding the balance of power. The repeal of the Black Laws, which had long marred the statute books of Ohio, and their choice for a United States Senator, were the primary objects with the Free Soilers. Beside the election of a Senator, two judges were to be elected to the Ohio Supreme Court. Mr. Morse made overtures to the Whigs, but there were several Whig representatives from the southern counties of Ohio who opposed the repeal of the Black Laws and to Joshua R. Giddings -- Morse's choice for Senator -- and hence he failed to build a coalition. Mr. Townshend was successful with the Democrats. They united with the Free Soilers; as a result, the Black Laws were repealed (in which vote most of the Whigs joined), Salmon P. Chase -- the personal choice of Mr. Townshend -- was elected to the Senate, and two Democratic judges were appointed to the Supreme Court.

This legislation provided separate schools for black children. The legislation, in a certain sense continued the Black Laws, inasmuch as a distinction was shown between the races. This distinction was not entirely obliterated until the session of 1886-1887, when they were repealed through the eloquent efforts of Benjamin W. Arnett, D.D., member-elect from Greene County. He was the first black man in the United States to represent a constituency where the majority were white and the first to be foreman of a jury where all the other members were white.

On 6 May 1850, the second constitutional convention -- consisting of 108 members -- met in Columbus to revise and change the old constitution and adapt it to the changed condition of the commonwealth. It was in actual session for almost four and a half months. It adjourned on 10 March 1851. The constitution was ratified by a majority of 16,288 voters. William Medill, president of the constitutional convention, was elected the first governor under it.

On 13 July 1855, Free Soilers, Whigs, Democrats, and Americans, all opposed to the extension of slavery, met at the Town Street Methodist Church in Columbus and held the first Republican state convention. They elected John Sherman chairman and announced in their platform that they would "resist the spread of slavery under whatever shape or color it may be attempted." They nominated Salmon P. Chase as their Governor. The Whig party subsequently ceased to exist.

Mr. Chase was elected by a majority of 15,651 votes. His opposing Democratic candidate was Gov. Medill. Ex-Governor Trimble, the candidate of the American -- or Know Nothing party -- received a total of 24,276 votes. In 1857 Mr. Chase was again re-elected governor, this time by 1,503 majority over Henry B. Payne, the Democratic candidate.

The great accomplishment of Mr. Chase's administration was his suggestion to the legislature to organize the militia. His vision of coming events would prove prophetic. In 1858 a grand review was held of the newly-organized military forces at Dayton, and rules and regulations governing military drills were printed and distributed among the militia. These efforts generated a martial and patriotic spirit which burst out almost everywhere in the state.

"Slowly the nation was approaching the crisis of its history, and Mr. Chase marched abreast of all events that led to it. In October 1859, John Brown made his famous invasion of Virginia [Harper's Ferry, West Virginia], and immediately afterwards Gov. Henry A. Wise [of Virginia] wrote to Gov. Chase, notifying him that Virginia would pursue abolitionists even into sister states to punish them. Mr. Chase dignifiedly replied that Ohio would obey the constitution and laws of the United States and not support unlawful acts, but under no circumstances could the military of other states invade Ohio territory. This was his last official declaration as Governor. In January 1860, his term closed, and a month later he was elected United States Senator." [From: "A History of Ohio," by Daniel J. Ryan (1888).]

William Dennison, the first of "the War Governors," succeeded Mr. Chase. Dennison was elected over Judge Rufus P. Ranney, his Democratic competitor, by a majority of 13,331 votes. The legislature was in session when the news was received of the fall of Fort Sumter, which sent a shudder through that body. In the midst of the excitement the shrill tones of a woman's voice resounded from the gallery: "THANK GOD! It is the death of slavery." These were the words of Abbie Kelly Foster, who for years had been noted as an anti-slavery speaker and activist.

Ohio's response to President Lincoln's 15 April 1861 proclamation, which called for 75,000 militia from the northern states, was immediate. From all parts of the state came offers of services from tens of thousands, and on 19 April 1861, only four days after the issuance of the call, the First and Second Regiments of Ohio Volunteers had been organized at Columbus and were on their way to Washington. The legislature simultaneously voted an appropriation of a million dollars for war purposes.

Senator Garfield also offered a bill, which was passed, "to define and punish treason against the State." In his report Mr. Garfield said: "It is high time for Ohio to enact a law to meet treachery when it shall take the form of an overt act; to provide when her soldiers shall go forth to maintain the Union there shall be no treacherous fire in the rear." His bill was passed despite the efforts of the Hon. C.L. Vallandigham, who was in Columbus at the time. Vallandigham, who believed that the Union could not be sustained by force of arms, was vainly endeavoring to stem the patriotic fervor which led the Democratic members of the state assembly to support the federal government every bit as strongly as did the Republican members of the Assembly.

Governor Dennison was soon enveloped "in a whirlpool of events; but he proved himself equal to the emergency." Having contributed to the safety of Washington by despatching two regiments there, his next attention was given to the southern border. Ohio had 436 miles of border which abutted the slave states of Virginia and Kentucky, many points of which were vulnerable to invasion. The attitude of Virginia was most alarming. Her western mountains were a natural fortification, behind which Richmond and the whole South was secure. Conversely, they were a perfect launching point for incursions into the free states. Less than eighty miles of free territory bordered Ohio on the east.

The West Virginians who were loyal called for aid. The Ohio militia in pay of the state of Ohio were pushed into West Virginia, gained the first victories of the war, and drove out the rebel troops. This occurred after the continued disasters in the East, and electrified the nation. "Thus was West Virginia the gift of Ohio, through her state militia, to the nation at the outset of the war." Gov. Dennison had written, "Ohio must lead throughout the war," and she did. George B. McClellan, who had general command in West Virginia -- through prestige obtained by the action and promptness of his subordinates, mainly Gen. William S. Rosecrans -- was soon called to head the Army of the Potomac, and Gov. Dennison to the Cabinet of the nation.

In 1861, David Tod, the second "War Governor," was elected by 55,000 majority over Hugh J. Jewett, the nominee of the anti-war -- or regular Democratic -- party of the state. The legislature was overwhelmingly Union Republican.

In September 1862, an event occurred which became known as the "Siege of Cincinnati." Gen's. Kirby Smith and John Morgan, with united forces, entered Kentucky, with the Ohio border as the objective point. Cincinnati was defenseless as they approached toward it. When Gov. Tod called for volunteers from citizens, and thousands from all parts of the states responded. They were named the "squirrel-hunters," because many brought their shotguns. Major-Gen. Lewis Wallace was put in command. He proclaimed martial law over the three cities of Cincinnati, Covington, and Newport, and fortifications were thrown up on the Kentucky hills, on all the avenues of approach to the city, and full preparations made to meet the foe. The "squirrel-hunters" -- the Home Guards of Cincinnati, with some newly-formed regiments -- crossed the Ohio on a pontoon, marched out four miles, and there waited four days for the attack of the enemy. There was some slight skirmishing of pickets, when the enemy, seeing the strength of force arrayed against them, withdrew,

In 1863, Mr. Vallandigham continued to influence public sentiment in Ohio by the eloquent and fearless presentation of his peace views. Since these views seemed to give aid and comfort to those fighting against the Union, he was seized, tried by court-martial, found guilty of disobedience of military orders, and sentenced to imprisonment during the war. Mr. Lincoln changed this sentence and had him shipped back to his friends within the Southern Confederacy. Vallandigham rapidly made his way to Wilmington, North Carolina, where on 17 June 1863 he took a blockade-runner and reached Canada. There, he established himself at Windsor, opposite Detroit, communicated with his friends in Ohio, and awaited events.

This summer of 1863 was made further notable by the raid of Gen. John Morgan through Ohio. With only about 2,000 horsemen he entered it on the Indiana border, passed within fourteen miles of Cincinnati, went through the entire southern part of Ohio, and -- although over 50,000 men, mostly citizens, were in pursuit -- escaped capture until within a few miles of a crossing-place on the Ohio River, in its southeasternmost county, on the Pennsylvania line. The object of this audacious raid was to distract attention from the movements of the Confederates in Kentucky and Tennessee, and this objective was accomplished.

On 17 June 1863, the Union Republican Convention met at Columbus and nominated John Brough, an old-line Democrat, for governor. Brough was very popular, possessed great executive ability, and was an outstanding orator. As a result, it was thought he was more likely to carry the state than Mr. Tod, its then current governor.

The peace party nominated Mr. Vallandigham. His banishment had aroused so much sympathy for him -- the "exiled hero" -- that they were constrained to nominate him. And there on the border he counselled with his adherents, watched and directed the election. As the election drew towards its close -- after the speeches had all been made, and the issues laid before the people -- in the few hours remaining before the opening of the polls, a feeling of deep solemnity pervaded the entire commonwealth. The eyes of the whole nation were upon Ohio. On her hung the death or salvation of the Union. If Ohio should prove unfaithful, all was lost.

Ohio was true; John C. Brough was elected governor by the unprecedented majority of 101,099 votes. Of this the home majority was 61,920, and the soldiers' majority 39,179. Out of 43,755 soldier votes only 2,288 were given for Vallandigham. In most cases the sons in the army voted one way, while the fathers at home on their farms -- secure from war's alarms -- voted the other.

Of the citizens who remained at home over 180,000 signified their preference for Vallandigham. Many sincerely regarded him as the subject of oppression. These voters were generally patriotic, but despairing of success and sick at heart of what seemed an idle spilling of blood and prolongation of suffering and misery.

Mr. Brough, the last of Ohio's War Governors, was the man for the most trying crisis. From the opposition to the war, Mr. Lincoln was fearful that another draft upon the people would result in failure, but more troops were absolutely essential. Seeing this, Gov. Brough called a meeting of the governors from Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio. On 21 April 1864, following their meeting, they notified Lincoln that they could furnish him with 85,000 men for 100 days, without a dollar of bounty or a single draft. These were citizen volunteers, largely men advanced in years and with families, and holding responsible positions. However, the purpose for their brief service primarily was the garrisoning of forts, thereby freeing veteran soldiers to reinforce Grant in Virginia -- expanding his ranks with 85,000 additional trained and disciplined men to crush the rebellion. Of these, Ohio supplied more than a third of the required number -- over 30,000 men -- National Guards, as they were called. The measure was most effective and their services most timely. It was a splendid contribution of the loyal West to the cause of the Union. Mr. Brough declined a renomination, and died in office before the close of his single term.

Ohio's sons were sustained in the field of battle by the work of Ohio's daughters in the farm fields and factories at home. As Ohio's soldiers were the first to gain victories, so the women of Ohio were the first to organize aid societies. Within five days after the fall of Fort Sumter the ladies of the "Soldiers' Aid Society of Northern Ohio" had already been organized in Cleveland. This single organization eventually procured and distributed food and clothing valued at a million dollars -- then a tremendous sum. A similar organization was started in Cincinnati, which was equally successful, and every church and Sunday school in the state became a collection point through which flowed gifts to sustain the soldiers at the front.

When the war closed more than one-half of Ohio's able-bodied men had taken up arms for the Union. Ohio was the most efficient of all the northern states in support of the war -- supplying many of the most successful generals as well as the largest number of capable leaders in the President's Cabinet and in other key councils of the nation.

This was a natural outcome of the early history of Ohio, which will be detailed in many other records in the Fulltext eBooks database. The quality of the varied people from the fringe of the Atlantic slope, from Virginia to New England, who first emigrated to its soil, populated Ohio with bold and courageous people, who were committed to freedom. The people of Ohio grew strong by felling its vast forests and opening them to cultivation. Seeing progress year by year as they overcame obstacle after obstacle, an entire population -- educated by continued success -- became filled with the sense of invincibility. Their strength, commitment, courage, education, and that sense of invincibility made them born leaders.

Ohio today is in the very heart of the nation and world. Being on the nation's great concrete and electronic highways, over which its commerce, population, and information flows, Ohio's past has prepared it and its people to play a leading role in the future of our nation and world.

See the first entry in this series: Early Ohio: A Brief History, Part 1 -- Discovery, Exploration, and First Settlement by Europeans.


This entry is adapted from Henry Howe's HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS OF OHIO (2 vols., 1907). The book has been reedited, updated, and restructured for inclusion in the Pierian Press Fulltext eBooks database, and is included on the Stratton House Inn Web site by special permission. This entry is licensed for use ONLY on this Web site. This entry may not be copied or downloaded, but may be used for educational purposes and personal pleasure under fair-use provisions via this Web site. Please note that the Stratton House Inn iteration of this entry does NOT include the subject headings assigned the entry for use in the Fulltext eBooks database.

DATABASE: Fulltext eBooks: Copyright (c) 1998 The Pierian Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved
ENTRY NUMBER: EBK31135001

 

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