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Fundamental Documents of Ohio







1872- 1874

Edward F. Noyes was born at Haverhill, Massachusetts, on October 3, 1832. Left an orphan at the age of three, he spent his early life in New Hampshire, where he lived with his grandfather and a guardian. At the age of thirteen he was apprenticed to the printer of the Morning Star, a religious newspaper published in Dover, New Hampshire. He remained a printer-boy for four and one-half years until he left to enter an academy at Kingston, New Hampshire. In 1853 he enrolled in Dartmouth College.

While in his senior year, Noyes' forensic ability and whole-hearted advocacy of the principles of the newly-founded Republican party were recognized by the Republican state committee of New Hampshire, which selected the youth to speak in support of the election of John C. Fremont to the presidency. This event whetted Noyes' appetite for a future career in politics.

After his graduation from Dartmouth in 1857, fourth in a class of fifty-seven, Noyes visited a classmate in Cincinnati. So taken was the ambitious easterner with the vigorous energy and material progress of the bustling "Queen City," that he remained there to study law with M. E. Curwen, graduating from the Cincinnati Law School in 1858.

With the firing upon Fort Sumter, Noyes turned from his law practice to help raise the 39th Ohio Infantry Regiment. On July 27, 1861, he was commissioned a major in this regiment. For three years he participated in every battle and skirmish in which his command was engaged. One superior officer spoke of Noyes as being "as efficient and faithful as he is brave and determined." Noyes advanced to the rank of colonel as he received commendations from Generals John Pope, William S. Rosecrans, and William T. Sherman, among others.

On July 4, 1864, while in command of an assault near Ruff's Mills, Georgia, Colonel Noyes received an ankle wound which resulted in the amputation of his left leg. Three months later, although Noyes had only partially recovered from his amputation and was yet on crutches, he was assigned by Major General Joseph Hooker to command Camp Dennison, Ohio, and breveted a brigadier general. Here Noyes remained until April 22, 1865, when he resigned to become city solicitor of Cin- cinnati. Before his term as solicitor expired he was elected in October 1866 to be probate judge of Hamilton County.

In 1871 the Republican party, seeking to retain the votes of thousands of Civil War veterans, chose General Noyes as its candidate for governor. In an unexciting campaign the thirty-nine year old Cin- cinnatian defeated his Democratic rival, Colonel George W. McCook, by more than twenty thousand votes.

Few measures of general importance were enacted during Noyes administration. Election laws were amended to make it unlawful for election judges to leave the place of voting or to remove the ballot boxes until after the votes had been tallied. Acts were passed to define more clearly the powers and duties of county officers. Governor Noyes sponsored new inspection laws for coal mines, investigated Ohio's pardon system, made recommendations for fish conservation measures, and secured the division of the Buckeye state into twenty congressional districts.

The year 1873 was a troubled one for Ohio Republicans, still shaken by the abortive Liberal revolt of the preceding year. When a widespread depression settled upon the country, local Republican leaders were bound to pay the political penalty for economic suffering and unemployment. Added to this were the maladministration of the Grant regime, the odium of Credit Mobilier, and the infamy of the Salary Grab Act, all unjustly attaching themselves to Noyes' campaign for reelection. The gubernatorial contest of 1873 was fierce, as Noyes' aggressive Democratic opponent, the aged William Allen, called by one newspaper, "that marvelous relic of a bygone era of statesmanship," attacked the Republicans for passing laws for the "benefit of corpora- tions, cliques and rings," while the country suffered from their corruption and negligence. The majority was small, but the final vote disclosed that by a scant plurality of 817 votes Ohio had elected a Democratic governor for the first time since the Civil War. Noyes' subsequent bid for the senatorship in 1874 was rejected by the Democratic legislature which elected Allen G. Thurman.

At the Republican national convention of 1876 Governor Noyes was designated by the twenty-five-man Ohio delegation to present the name of Rutherford B. Hayes for the presidency. Noyes' zealous, behind- the-scenes management of Hayes' campaign, described by one veteran observer as "able, judicious, untiring, unselfish, inspiring, adroit," won the support of hesitant independents and reformers and secured Hayes' nomination. Following the uncertain results of the fall elections, Noyes hurriedly joined the "visiting statesmen" sent to observe events in Florida and to advocate the Republican side before the local canvassing board. Amid charges of fraud and incidents of violence, Noyes helped attain his party's victory in Florida. Two years later, a congressional investigating committee absolved Noyes of charges that he had im- properly influenced the Florida canvassers by promises of political favor.

In 1877 President Hayes selected Edward Noyes to succeed Elihu B. Washburne as minister to France, a position which Noyes filled for four years with distinction to himself and credit to his country. As minister he represented this country in the Paris Exposition of 1878, participated in the International Monetary Conference held in Paris in the same year for the purpose of fixing international exchange values of gold and silver, and toured Africa in quest of opportunities for American commercial interests. Replaced in 1881 by the New York banker, Levi Parsons Morton, Noyes returned to Cincinnati where he resumed his law practice and served as an elder counselor in the Republican gubernatorial campaigns of the eighties. He died suddenly on September 4, 1890, while serving on the bench of the superior court of Cincinnati, a post to which he had been elected only a year earlier. He was survived by his wife, Margaret, and their son.

Noyes had brought to the governorship and his subsequent positions not only varied and extensive learning in the law, but also a matchless eloquence. He was of commanding and handsome presence, was gifted with a fine voice, and was a master of the graces of rhetoric and the rules of logic. William Henry Smith, writing to Rutherford B. Hayes, referred to Noyes' political conduct as "that of a noble, chivalrous, honorable gentleman."

HAROLD M. HELFMAN Air Research and Development Command, Baltimore, Maryland

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