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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Two Governors

Dallas Bogan on 27 September 2004
The following is taken from Dallas Bogan's book, "The Pioneer Writings of Josiah Morrow."
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

November 24, 1921

In our sketches of the distinguished men of Warren county we have thus far considered only those who were most distinguished as judges. We found that our county in its early history was notable for the number of its citizens honored with high positions on the bench. Three were successfully president judges of a large circuit, two were judges of the supreme court of Ohio, and John McLean was the first Ohioan to reach the supreme bench of the United States.
We will now consider the two men of the county who were most highly honored with civil offices--Jeremiah Morrow and Thomas Corwin. Both these men were elected to the office of governor by the people and to the office of U.S. senator by the legislature; both, before holding these high offices, had been elected for five successive terms to the House of representatives and both were honored with other high official positions. Both were singularly fortunate in their public careers and were looked upon as among the most distinguished men of their time in the Buckeye state.
The fact is noteworthy in the early history of Ohio that under the first constitution of the state, the life of which was nearly fifty years, the governor was the only officer of state elected by the people and from only two counties did the people elect more than one governor. These were Ross and Warren--the former much more populous than the latter. While Edward Tiffin and Thomas Worthington of Ross, were both senators as well as governors and were among the most distinguished men of early Ohio, both Morrow and Corwin were more frequently honored with high offices than the two Ross county men.
Morrow was much older than Corwin and was governor of the state when the younger man first served in the legislature. The two men were warm personal friends. Both were Jeffersonian Democrats before the division of that party and both became whigs in the contests between Jackson and Clay.

Gov. Morrow.

This pioneer came to the Miami country in the spring of 1795 and stopped for a year or two at the mouth of the Little Miami. He was twenty-three years of age and had received in his native state of Pennsylvania a good English education, largely by reading and studying. He had settled on the land he had purchased on the Little Miami near where Foster now is; he engaged chiefly in surveying land for the settlers. Cincinnati at this time was a little village. He became favorably known for his wide intelligence and the year after his settling in his log cabin on the Little Miami he was first elected to office by being chosen a representative to the territorial legislature. From this time for more than forty years he was almost constantly in public office. In 1843, being over 70 years of age, he declined further public service.
He was a member of the convention which framed the first constitution of Ohio and no man in the state held so many high offices under that constitution as he. Of no other governor of Ohio can it be said that he served in both houses of the legislature and in both houses of congress. He was the first representative to congress from Ohio and for ten years he was the sole representative. He was then chosen senator and a full term and afterward twice elected governor. He was never defeated when a candidate.
He served sixteen consecutive years in congress and during most of this time he was chairman of the committee on Public Lands, both in the house and the senate. Henry Clay said: "No man, in the sphere within which he acted ever commanded or deserved the implicit confidence of congress more than Jeremiah Morrow."
Gov. Charles Anderson, who knew him intimately wrote: "If I were compelled to choose and name the one ablest and best of all the governors, it would be this Jeremiah Morrow of Warren county. He had so many exact yet varied and extensive knowledges, with such accuracy and aptness of memory and citation that I am compelled to adjudge him a high place, as well in scholarship as statesman."

Gov. Corwin.

The second governor of Ohio furnished by Warren county was Thomas Corwin. Born in Kentucky his boyhood from the age of four years was passed on a farm one mile northeast of Lebanon. Denied the privilege of attending a high school or academy, he acquired a good English education chiefly by home reading. He was admitted to the bar before he was twenty-three and soon became the leading lawyer at Lebanon.
In politics he was remarkably successful and soon became the most brilliant and popular of the leaders of the Whig party in Ohio. He was three times elected to the legislature, five times to congress and then was elected governor by the largest majority any candidate had received for any office in Ohio. He was afterwards U.S. senator and secretary of the treasury in Fillmore's cabinet. His last office was minister to Mexico to which he was appointed by Lincoln.
His most famous speech was delivered in the senate against the Mexican war. It was one of the bravest ever spoken in congress. A fact in his political life is early remembered. He was a candidate for office more than a dozen times and was never defeated but once. His sole defeat was in 1842 when a candidate for re-election as governor. This was five years before his denunciation of our war with Mexico.
Successful as was Corwin in reaching high offices, in his state and in the nation, he was most eminent as an orator. His oratorical powers were the gift of nature and more than one writer has pronounced him a natural orator. He was undoubtedly the most famous orator Ohio had produced. John Sherman pronounced him "certainly the greatest popular orator of his time," and Andrew D. White said he was "the most famous stump speaker of his time, perhaps of all time."

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This page created 27 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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