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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Mansfield Was True Jack-Of-All-Trades

Dallas Bogan on 30 August 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Distinguished journalist, author, statistician, and publicist, all these vocations describe a former Warren Countian, Edward Deering Mansfield.
Our subject was born at New Haven, Conn., August 17, 1801, the son of Col. Jared Mansfield. Col. Mansfield was a graduate of Yale, a mathematical genius, an author, and, for many years, a professor at West Point. Mansfield, the county seat of Richland County, Ohio, was named after him.
Thomas Jefferson appointed Col. Mansfield, because of his scientific accomplishments, surveyor general for the Northwest Territory in 1803. For nine years he made his home at Ludlow Station, now Cummingsville, while involved in surveying the primary meridians of Ohio and Indiana.
Young Edward well remembered the town of Cincinnati in its early days. Of the town he says: "But what was Cincinnati then? One of the dirtiest little villages you ever saw." He describes his early life in Cincinnati as a lonely youngster in a new settlement, with no other boys as playmates, and no school to attend.
At the age of 10 he had accumulated just two-quarters of schooling, until his father returned from New Haven in 1812. Shortly thereafter, the family returned to New Haven where Edward received a superior education.
Col. Mansfield was appointed professor at West Point in 1814. Edward was then sent to an Episcopal Academy in Cheshire, Conn.
Our subject, at the age of 14, was appointed a cadet at West Point and completed the four-year's course, graduating before he was 18, fourth in the class.
Although West Point provided a superior education, his mother rebelled against his joining the army; a decision was therefore rendered for him to attend Princeton, from where he graduated in two years, winning top honors in science.
He was now 21, and destined to become a lawyer. His studies included private readings at his father's home, and attending lectures at Litchfield Law School. Consolidating his three basic educations - military, classical and legal - and through an association with his many learned companions, he became a member of the bar and traveled to Cincinnati where he opened a law office in 1825.
He was now 24, and, in all probability, was the best-educated young man in primitive Ohio.
As clients were scarce, he had an abundance of time for social recreation. Only one theater was in existence in Cincinnati. Here he spent quality time and enjoyed the plays which were considered first class.
The following year, still absorbed in a leisure nature, he and Benjamin Drake wrote a small book of 100 pages entitled "Cincinnati in 1826." Each author traveled in different directions gathering information, Drake taking the part west of Main, and Mansfield the eastern portion.
Mansfield experienced health problems in 1828 and consequently journeyed back East to recuperate. With an improvement in his health, he returned to Cincinnati, in 1832, and reestablished his law practice.
Ormsby M. Mitchel, of whom this writer portrayed in a past article, joined in a partnership with Mansfield, both having graduated from West Point. Both subsequently became famous, but neither as an attorney.
Mansfield expressed that both men were absorbed in a partnership from which neither were well adapted. He wrote that "we were really literary men and our thoughts wandered off to other subjects." Mitchel was thoroughly interested in astronomy, and Mansfield's intellect was directed toward literary achievements.
Both men, in 1834, joined the Second Presbyterian Church, which four years later became the New School Presbyterian. The pastor was Dr. Lyman Beecher, father of Henry Ward Beecher.
In 1835 the Cincinnati College was founded with Mitchel taking the helm as mathematics and astronomy instructor, while Mansfield taught constitutional law and history.
As a professor, Mansfield found his duties were light in content, which provided him free time for his social arrangements with his fellow professors. Cincinnati College had no endowment and soon terminated as a college, the law school only being continued.
Through his writings, Mansfield became famous. He was editor of The Cincinnati Chronicle for 13 years, The Cincinnati Atlas for three years, The Railroad Gazette for 18 years, and an editorial writer on The Cincinnati Gazette for the last 25 years of his life.
At age 23, his first article appeared in the Litchfield, Conn., newspaper, and until his death, at age 79, an article appeared in some sort of publication every single year.
The Chronicle became a daily newspaper in 1839. It began with 250 subscribers and completed the first year with 600. It was a Whig paper that vigorously opposed slavery, and was found to be unfavorable to Cincinnatians at the time.
It also opposed the sale of liquor. Achilles Pugh, a devout Quaker from Waynesville, was printer of the publication. He would not allow a single liquor advertisement to be used. Because of this decision some loss of income to the paper was realized.
(Harriet Beecher, afterward Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, was an employee of Mansfield's Chronicle: here she published her first stories.)
As an author, Mansfield wrote ten books and a score of pamphlets. His first book was entitled "The Political Grammar." He wrote it while in the profession of a lawyer and submitted it to members of the College of the Professional Teachers at Cincinnati in 1834.
It was the first work for use in schools pertaining to knowledge of our national Constitution and Government. Some of the best institutions in the country used this publication for learning. He was a pioneer in what was later called "Civics" in educational literature.
Other books by Mansfield were "Treatise on Constitutional Law," "Legal Rights of Women," "Life of Winfield Scott," "History of the Mexican War," "American Education," and "Memoirs of Daniel Drake." His last book, "Personal Memories, Social, Political, and Literary, with Sketches of Many Noted People," was published in 1879, the year before his death.
Mansfield was, in 1858, appointed as State Commissioner of Statistics by Governor Chase, a position he held for ten years. Yamoden, about a mile north of Morrow, on the hills of the Little Miami, was the home of Edward D. Mansfield the last thirty years of his life. Yamoden was an Indian name that became the title of a romantic poem written by Robert C. Sands and James W. Eastburn, published in 1820.
At this site, Mansfield wrote much for the press, making regular contribution to the Cincinnati Commercial Gazette, signed "E.D.M." Here he also contributed letters during the Civil War to the New York Times, signed, "Veteran Observer."
Mansfield was married twice, first to a proficient lady of Litchfield, Conn.; second to a daughter of Governor Thomas Worthington. In politics he was first a Whig and afterward a Republican.
He died at Yamoden, October 27, 1880. Within the house, hidden away in oddly shaped furniture, were hundreds of books. Also discovered were some family portraits and other pictures, Indian relics, moccasins and arrows, and personal possessions.
Also found were more than 200,000 manuscript papers, a memorial to his dedicated service to the people.

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