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Fundamental Documents of Ohio







1862- 1864

True to its intention of holding a Union party convention in the summer of 1861, the Republican party of Ohio did not issue instructions for the election of delegates.. Instead, the call came from a public appeal signed by one hundred prominent Ohioans who represented several shades of political philosophy. However, the men had at least one thing in common: they all supported the war. David Tod, previously a radical Democrat, not only affixed his name to the call but emerged from the convention as the Union party's nominee for governor.

To the delegates at the convention, as to most Ohioans, Tod was well known. Son of Judge George Tod, he was born in Youngstown on February 21, 1805. David Tod began practicing law in 1827 and five years later was appointed postmaster of Warren. In 1832 he married Maria Smith who became the mother of his seven children.

An ardent Democrat in a stronghold of Western Reserve Whiggery, Tod ran for the Ohio Senate in 1838 and gained election. During his term as a senator he helped secure approval of antibanking legislation and figured prominently in the passage of a bill to facilitate the return of fugitive slaves to their masters in Kentucky. He also was instrumental in defeating Thomas Morris, antislavery Democrat, for reelection as United States Senator and electing Benjamin Tappan in his place.

Tod did not run for another term; instead, he returned to his law practice. But his party work in the campaigns of 1840 and 1842 earned him the title of "giant of Democracy," and qualified him as an expert Whig "coonskinner." Despite these laurels, he failed to gain victory as the Democratic candidate for governor in two consecutive campaigns. Running on violent antibank platforms, Tod lost to Mordecai Bartley in 1844 and William Bebb in 1846. Both defeated him by a slender margin.

In March 1847 President Polk appointed Tod as minister to Brazil, a post in which he served with distinction until 1851. Returning to Youngstown, Tod gave full attention to his growing coal, iron, and railroad interests-interests in which he accumulated a fortune. Through- out the 1850's Tod regarded himself more of a party patriarch than active campaigner; however, through an odd circumstance his district nominated him for congress in 1858. Pressing business affairs allowed him to show but little interest in the campaign and he lost decisively to his Republican opponent, John Hutchins.

Under the gathering war clouds of sectionalism in 1860, Tod served as a delegate to the Democratic national convention at Charleston. After the convention moved to Baltimore and became deadlocked, he succeeded Caleb Cushing as chairman. Tod was instrumental in securing the nomination of Stephen A. Douglas, and later strenuously stumped for his election.

Following Lincoln's election and the outbreak of civil strife, the lifelong Democrat turned his back to his party, made public appeals for political unity, and wholeheartedly supported Lincoln and the war. Thus he was the logical Union party choice for governor. In a listless campaign, in which the war took precedence over politics, Tod over- whelmingly defeated Democrat Hugh J. Jewett by a margin of over 50,000 votes.

During the first few months of his administration Governor Tod faced few duties other than continuing the work of his predecessor, William Dennison. But soon, as the war pressed more directly upon the state, he became occupied with an array of problems. Ohio's troops suffered heavily in the battle of Shiloh in April 1862, and the governor quickly dispatched aid to the wounded. This service he continued through- out his term. Also, Tod established various agencies in the North to meet soldiers' difficulties relative to transportation, pay, sickness, and disability. Recruiting became more trying as patriotism faltered, and Tod's appeals for volunteers changed to orders for drafting. Confederate troops threatened Ohio twice during 1862. But Tod's speedy action for border defense-aided by the famous "Squirrel Hunters"-sealed the state against invasion.

Politically, however, his first year was not successful. General dissatisfaction with the war's progress, political arrests, and the pre- liminary Emancipation Proclamation contributed to the Union party's defeat in the state elections of 1862. The Democrats captured all state offices at stake and fourteen of the nineteen seats to the national congress. Encouraged by these results, Ohio's Copperheads fanned the flames of the "fire in the rear." Tod had to contend with outbreaks of armed resistance in Holmes and Noble counties, and faced kidnapping and civil suits brought against him by Edson B. Olds, whom Tod had had arrested and imprisoned. Military authorities quelled the civil dis- turbances; the legal questions never reached trial. More serious than any of these, however, was the Morgan raid into Ohio. The governor's hurried assemblage of a large number of troops discouraged Confederate attacks on Columbus or any of the prison camps. Although the raid proved to be of little military consequence, Morgan's men did con- siderable plundering. Tod instructed the county military committees to assess the damage and subsequently the legislature voted funds to individual sufferers.

Tod ardently desired a second term and made an active canvass for it. Union party managers, however, disliked the frequency with which he filled vacancies with old Democratic friends. Furthermore, Tod was rather cool towards emancipation. These considerations robbed him of Union League support and resulted in the nomination of John Brough.

Tod held no other official position, although in June 1864 Lincoln offered him the post of secretary of the treasury. Because of ill health, he declined. He had been troubled for years with strokes of apoplexy, and it was from such an attack that he died in November 1868.

His administration was characterized by intense patriotism, devotion to duty, administrative ability, and unflagging energy. Ohio was fortunate to have had David Tod as one of its war governors. Wright Air Development Center, Dayton


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