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SAMUEL HUNTINGTON

1808- 1810

The third governor of Ohio, Samuel Huntington, was born in Coventry, Connecticut, on October 4, 1765. His father was Joseph Huntington, a minister of liberal views and a descendant of Simon Huntington who emigrated from England in 1633. His maternal grand- father, Ebenezer Devotion, was also a minister, as were three of his paternal uncles. As a boy he was adopted by his uncle and namesake, Samuel Huntington, signer of the Declaration of Independence and governor of Connecticut (1786-96).

He attended Dartmouth College until the end of his junior year and then transferred to Yale, graduating in 1785 at the age of twenty. Upon graduation his uncle sent him abroad for a tour of Europe. After his return he studied law and was admitted to the bar in Connecticut in 1793. He practiced in that state until 1800. In that year he made a trip to the Ohio country on horseback, visiting the Western Reserve and the Ohio Valley as far south as Marietta.

Early in the summer of 1801 he brought his family to Youngstown and soon thereafter settled in the village of Cleveland. His family at that time consisted of his wife-the former Hannah Huntington, a distant cousin whom he had married in 1791-two sons, Julius C. and Cobert, and Miss Margaret Cobb, a governess. In a letter to Moses Cleaveland he described the trip west as follows: "I have moved my Patriarchal Caravan through the wilderness to this Canaan. I was nine days on the Journey, with two Waggons, ten oxen, three horses, seven Cows and eighteen persons in my Retinue. We slept seven nights in the open air (after leaving the settlements in New York State)."

When Huntington arrived in Cleveland it was a village of a few log houses. One of them, a "pretentious," two-room, hewn log house, had been built for Huntington by Amos Spafford. It stood on the bluff south of Superior Street overlooking the present site of the Erie Railroad depot. It is related that one night in 1802 as Huntington was riding home through the swamp a mile or two from his home he was attacked by a pack of wolves. He fought them off with an umbrella, and with his horse running at top speed, reached home safely. Indians still roamed freely about the little settlement.

Huntington wrote Cleaveland in November 1801: "We have now here about 200 Indians going up the Cuyahoga. They have a jealousy of my coming here, owing to a story that has been propagated amongst them, that I am raising Soldiers to drive them out of the country. I have had a great number of Workmen here who they think are Soldiers in Disguise."

A different danger also threatened the settlers: the prevalence of malaria arising from the swamps. This last peril probably induced Huntington to move to Newburgh at the falls of Mill Creek where he bought the grist mill which had been operated by W. W. Williams for two or three years. In 1807 he traded three hundred acres in Cleveland for a large tract on the Grand River owned by John Walworth and moved to Painesville Township. There with two others in 1812 he founded the village of Fairport, where he erected the first warehouse in Lake County.

Soon after coming to Ohio, Huntington was filling positions of responsibility. Governor St. Clair appointed him lieutenant colonel of the Trumbull County militia in charge of the troops of the Western Reserve. In 1802 he was elected one of the supervisors of roads and in the same year was appointed justice of the peace and was given priority on the court of quarter sessions. He favored statehood and opposed the arbitrary rule of Governor St. Clair. He was elected as delegate to the Ohio Constitutional Convention in 1802, where he acted in harmony with the Chillicothe Junto.

He was elected to the senate of the first general assembly and was chosen speaker, but in April 1803 the general assembly selected Hunt- ington as judge of the supreme court. His commission is said to be the first issued under the authority of the state. In 1804 he succeeded Return J. Meigs, Jr., as chief justice of the court. His most important decision while on the supreme bench was that rendered in the case of Rutherford v. M'Faddon in which he upheld the doctrine of judicial review of acts of the legislature with arguments comparable to those used by John Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. Calvin Pease, presiding judge in the circuit court in the eastern district, and George Tod, Huntington's associate on the supreme court, were both tried in impeachment pro- ceedings for similar opinions. Huntington was spared trial, for in the meantime he had been elected governor.

The court question was the principal issue in the 1808 election, and Huntington, who had the support of the Federalists and the "Quids," or pro-court Republicans, defeated Worthington and Kirker, who split the anti-court Republican vote.

Huntington's administration was a stormy one. There was much excitement over the impeachment trials-both judges were acquitted by a single vote-and over Tiffin's "Sweeping Resolution," the principle of which was enacted into a law terminating the tenure of judges holding seven-year terms under the constitution (including interim appointees) in 1810. Another major concern was the threat of war with Great Britain, which would leave Ohio in a crucial position. There was much agitation also over the temporary location of the capital at Zanesville and the question of its permanent location. It was during this administration that Ohio's "Blue Laws" were passed, but there appears to be no evidence that Huntington, though a New Englander, had advocated them.

Governor Huntington was not a candidate for reelection but ran against Thomas Worthington for the United States Senate. He was defeated, however, and at the close of his term retired from public life and returned to his splendid estate near Painesville. In 1813 he was appointed army paymaster under General William Henry Harrison and with the general visited a fort at Cleveland named in Huntington's honor. He died on June 8, 1817, of injuries received while supervising repairs on the road from his estate to the Fairport harbor.

Samuel Huntington was a man of small stature but of abounding energy. He was well educated and his polished manners and command of the French language indicated that he may have spent some time in France. A natural leader, he was prominent in college life and eminent in the civil affairs of his adopted state. He was personally popular and numbered among his friends and correspondents such men as Gideon Granger, Arthur St. Clair, Jeremiah Morrow, Edward Tiffin, Thomas Worthington, and Elisha Tracy. The latter wrote him from Washington that he had not seen "one wry face" when it was mentioned that Hunt- ington had been elected governor of Ohio. His business methods were efficient and ethical. As a lawyer and a public servant he was both able and honest, and his influence on the history of Ohio is significant. Perhaps his greatest contribution was his support of the doctrine of judicial review of legislative acts, now a generally accepted judicial principle. The Ohio Historical Society

S. WINIFRED SMITH

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