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|Thomas Corwin||Governor of Ohio, Congressman, Statesman, Diplomat|
Thomas Corwin - Governor of Ohio, Congressman, Statesman, Diplomat
"CORWIN, Thomas, statesman, was born in Bourbon county, Ky., July 29, 1794; son of Matthias and Patience (Halleck) Corwin of Fayette county, Pa.; grandson of Jesse and Kezia (Case) Corwin of Morris county, N. J.; great-grandson of Matthias Corwin of Southhold, Long Island; great-great grandson of John Corwin and great-great-great grandson of Mathias Curwen, who left England in 1630, was a citizen of Ipswich, Mass., in 1634, of Southhold, Long Island, N.Y., in 1640, and died there in 1658.
His father removed from Fayette county, Pa., thence to Mason county, Ky., in 1785 and subsequently to Bourbon county. In 1798 he removed with his family of six children, his widowed mother and most of his brothers and sisters to the Miami valley near the present site of Lebanon, Ohio. He was a justice of the peace, for ten years a representative in the state legislature, speaker of the House in 1815 and 1824, presidential elector on the Madison ticket in 1812, an associate judge of the court of common pleas, 1816-23, and a trustee of Miami university, 1815-18. He died Sept. 4, 1829. Of his four sons three, Matthias, Thomas and Jesse, became lawyers.
Thomas was brought up on his father's farm and helped to subdue the wilderness out of which the farm was carved. He had few school advantages until he was twelve years old, when he began regular attendance at a winter school conducted by Jacob Grigg, a Baptist clergyman who had been educated in England. After two winters' attendance he was kept at home, his father's means only allowing him to educate one son to a profession and Matthias, being the oldest son, was kept at school. After 1808 his time during the days was fully occupied in hard work on the farm and in teaming to and from Cincinnati, thirty miles distant. From this occupation he gained the nickname "the wagon boy," afterward used in political campaigns.
In the war of 1812 he was employed in carrying provisions to the army of General Harrison, encamped on the waters of the St. Mary's which emptied into the Maumee. He employed his evenings in reading and acquired a knowledge of Latin and other academic studies by using the textbooks of his brother Matthias. In 1815 he took up the study of law under the direction of Joshua Collett and at the same time continued his reading of history and the English classics. He cultivated his elocutionary powers at the village debating society and gained a local reputation as an eloquent speaker. He was admitted to the bar in 1817 when nearly twenty-three years old. He rode the circuit of the courts of his judicial district, which embraced five or six counties, on horseback, carrying his books, briefs and change of clothing in saddlebags, and an overcoat and umbrella strapped behind the saddle.
He was married Nov. 13, 1822, to Sarah, sister of Thomas R. Ross, a representative from Lebanon, Ohio, in the 16th, 17th and 18th congresses.
In October, 1821, he was elected a representative in the Ohio legislature and was re-elected in 1822 without opposition. The next seven years he declined re-election. At these elections no question of party politics entered into the canvass, the candidates depending on personal popularity and supposed fitness for office. In October, 1829, the party lines became more defined and Corwin accepted the candidacy for representative in the state legislature, supported by the anti-Jackson party, and was elected. He served as chairman of the judiciary committee. In 1830 he was elected a representative in the 22nd congress by a majority of 733 votes, while Robert Lucas, the Jackson candidate for governor, received a majority of 381 in the congressional district.
He supported the National Republican party which subsequently became known as the Whig party. He framed the new charter of the United States bank, and formed a protective tariff and a system of internal improvements by the federal government. Mr. Corwin was re-elected to the 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th congresses. In 1838 he was elected without opposition.
On Feb. 15, 1840, he made his famous speech in the house of representatives in reply to General Crary, a representative from Michigan who had attacked the military record of General Harrison, and it gained him a national reputation as an orator. At the Whig state convention of Feb. 22, 1840, he received the unanimous nomination of the convention for governor of Ohio, and he resigned his office of representative in congress March 18, 1840, to take effect in May following. In the presidential campaign of 1840, he became known as the ablest stump speaker in America. He carried the state by over 16,000 majority, twice as large as had ever before been accorded any candidate for governor or president. He was inaugurated governor, Dec. 16, 1840, but continued to reside at Lebanon and to carry on his law practice. In 1842 he was renominated and defeated with the entire Whig party. In 1844 he was made president of the Whig state convention, declined the nomination for governor, was placed at the head of the electoral ticket for Clay and Frelinghuysen and canvassed the state for the Whig ticket which was successful. On Dec. 2, 1844, he was elected a United States senator, as successor to Benjamin Tappan, Democrat, whose term would expire March 3, 1845. He took his seat Dec. 1, 1845. His first speech was in favor of land bounties to the soldiers of the Mexican war and was delivered in January, 1847, during the second session of the 29th congress.
On Feb. 11, 1847, he spoke against the further prosecution of the war, maintaining it to be unjust and dishonorable, and prosecuted in the interest of territorial aggrandizement. He refused to vote for appropriations "for a war of conquest" and his speech was more widely read, more frequently quoted, more warmly admired, and more bitterly denounced than any other speech delivered in the U.S. senate. In the speech he said, "If I were a Mexican I would tell you: Have you not room in your own country to bury your dead men? If you come into mine we will greet you with bloody hands and welcome you to hospitable graves."
In the succeeding presidential campaign he supported General Taylor; canvassed Ohio and urged his Free Soil friends to vote with the Whigs, but Ohio gave her electoral vote to Lewis Cass. He voted with Seward, Chase and Hale and against Clay and Webster on the compromise measures. When Fillmore succeeded to the presidency on the death of President Taylor July 9, 1850, he appointed Senator Corwin secretary of the treasury in his cabinet and his nomination was confirmed by the senate July 20, 1850. He thereupon resigned from the senate and took up the portfolio of the treasury. At the close of President Fillmore's administration, Mr. Corwin returned to Lebanon and took up his law practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was a representative in the 36th and 37th congresses, 1859-61.
On the assembling of the 36th congress he nominated and supported John Sherman as speaker. Through the seven weeks' contest he used his best efforts in behalf of his candidate and in the last week spoke two entire days in order to effect an organization. He then supported William Pennington and when the House was organized, Feb. 1, 1860, he was appointed by Speaker Pennington chairman of the committee on foreign affairs. He was a delegate to the Republican national convention of 1860, and took an active part in the campaign. In the second session of the 36th congress he was made chairman of the celebrated committee of thirty-three, one from each state, on the disturbed condition of the country, and he actively supported the proposed amendments to the constitution passed by both houses, submitted to the states, and ratified by Ohio and Maryland, making it impossible for congress to interfere with slavery in any of the states.
On March 12, 1861, he was appointed by President Lincoln, U.S. minister
to Mexico and the senate promptly confirmed the nomination. His instructions
from Secretary Seward were dated April 6, 1861. On June 26, 1863, the French
army had taken possession of the Mexican capital and on August 8, Mr. Seward
granted Minister Corwin leave of absence to return to the United States
and confer with the state department awaiting further directions from the
President. He returned to the United States early in 1864, leaving his
son, William Henry Corwin, chargé d'affaires, which position he
maintained till 1866. Mr. Corwin resigned as U.S. minister shortly after
his return and opened a law office in Washington, D. C.
On Dec. 18, 1865, he was invited to a large gathering of Ohio men at the residence of Mr. Wetmore, the Ohio military agent. Generals Hayes and Garfield were present with other notable Ohioans. Mr. Corwin was in the best of humor, but was quite weak and was seated on a sofa beside General Hayes. The assembled guests gathered around him and listened to every word that fell from his lips. Senator Wade, who had been intently listening, suddenly asked: "They say, Corwin, those Mexicans want to be annexed to the United States; what do you think of that?" Corwin's face changed from gay to grave, his eyes became serious and every one bent forward to hear what he might say. He raised his head and attempted to speak, but no words came. He fell forward on the sofa and never spoke again. See Life and Speeches of Thomas Corwin, Orator, Lawyer, and Statesman; edited by Josiah Morrow (1896).
He died in Washington, D. C., Dec. 18, 1865."
Thomas Corwin's "Asserted" Corwin
Direct Descendants of Matthias Corwin
1 Matthias Corwin 1595 - 1658
.. +Margaret Shatswell or Morton, ? 1595 -
.... 2 John Corwin 1630 - 1702
........ +Mary Glover 1642 - 1690
........... 3 Matthias Corwin 1676 - 1769
............... +Mary [Roe?] 1664 - 1725
Pg 224, 1 WILLIAM,4 (Matthias, 2,) b. (???), 1700-10.
Hon. Thomas Corwin, of Ohio, informed the writer in 1859, that his great-grandfather was William. But his uncle, David, (8,) is quite sure that his grandfather's name was Jesse, and upon the whole this seems the most probable. Possibly the two names should be combined, as Jesse-William. (See Jesse, No. 1.)
.................. 4 Jesse or William Corwin
...................... +Bethi [Osman?] 1706 -
........................ 5 Jesse Corwin 1736 - 1791
............................ +Kezia Case 1737 - 1798
............................... 6 Matthias Corwin 1761 - 1829
................................... +Patience Hallock 1762 - 1818
...................................... 7 Thomas Corwin, Governor 1794 - 1865
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