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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Thomas Corwin And His Part In The Civil War

Dallas Bogan on 26 August 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

THOMAS CORWIN was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, July 29, 1794. He migrated with his father to the Northwest Territory in 1798. In 1806, he attended school in Lebanon and became somewhat of a scholar at an early age.
His adopted name of "the wagon boy," came during 1812 when he drove a wagon load of supplies through the swamps of St. Mary's for William Henry Harrison's (soon to become the ninth President of the United States) army.
In 1815, he began the study of law and two years later he opened a law office in Lebanon. This practice opened doors for young Corwin. In the capacity of his endeavors, he entered the world of politics.
In 1822, he married Miss Sarah Ross of Lebanon. At this time he was a Representative in the Legislature. Being a Whig, he supported Henry Clay for President.
In 1840, he was elected Governor of Ohio. He served until 1842. He was elected Senator, December 5, 1844, and served from 1845 to 1850.
With the Whig Party all but dead, Corwin was elected, in 1858, to Congress by the Republicans. He was reelected in 1860 and supported Lincoln for President. The young Republican Party invited the cooperation of all men, Democrats and any other organization who would join together for the cause of the Union. Slavery, in previous years, had certainly been put on the back burner, but with the emergence of the Republican Party, a stir was elevated to new proportions.
Mr. Corwin had not made the institution of John Brown a hero type. This pronounced type of opposition to slavery should be a definite pattern to be aware of, not to abide by. Though he was not popular with his views on the pending situation, Mr. Corwin stated his mind contrary to the beliefs of others. His boldness had served him this far and his present position on the slavery issue was with accordance to his frankness.
To prohibit slavery in all the territories of the United States was the essential requirement of the young Republicans; Mr. Corwin endorsed this clearly, but, an endorsement on the position that Statehood be created with a Constitution authorizing slavery was, in his mind, questionable.
Mr. Corwin was a delegate to the National Republican Convention at Chicago in 1860; in this campaign he supported Lincoln for President. Corwin was renominated and reelected to Congress the same year.
With the election of Lincoln, the cotton states Senators and Representatives began resigning and talk of a Southern Confederacy was one of reality. Mr. Corwin was, through his speaking ability and frankness of tone on the situation, appointed speaker chairman of a committee of thirty-three, in which a representative from each state was selected to discuss the bitterness of the times. The committee was gathered to remove from the minds of the Southern people any just fears that their rights under the Constitution should not be fully protected. The atrocities of war were the subject of the still unified United States. Secessionists gathered and talk of the South installing their own Government tantalized some radical politicians into a sphere of madness.
The recommendations of the committee, which was reported on January 21, 1861, was in complete accordance with Mr. Corwin. Surviving an angry debate on the recommendations, the first series was adopted by a vote of 136 to 53. Interference from Congress, on the issue of slavery, was initially outlawed in many of the States. Finally, passage of the proposed Amendment was received by the House and the Senate, the proposed Amendment was submitted in these words: Article XIII. "No amendment shall be made to the constitution which will authorize or give to congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor service by the laws thereof."
This amendment , had it been a part of the Constitution at the time would not have averted war. Mr. Corwin's activity in the creation of a no-war effort is evidence of his Christian standard of peace at any cost.

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This page created 26 August 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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