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Fundamental Documents of Ohio







1822, 1826- 1830

Allen Trimble, Ohio's eighth and tenth governor, was born on November 24, 1783, in Augusta County, Virginia, of Scotch-Irish ancestry. His paternal grandfather, John Trimble, settled in Augusta County, where he was killed about 1763 by Indian raiders. James Trimble, Allen's father, fought at Point Pleasant and served with the Virginia militia during the Revolution, receiving for this service land warrants in Kentucky. He settled near Lexington late in 1784 when Allen was about a year old. As a young boy Allen received a sound education, but he was. hindered by poor health from continuing his education beyond the age of seventeen.

Near the close of the century his father determined to manumit his slaves and settle in free territory north of the Ohio River.

In 1801 and again in 1803 Allen accompanied his father to Ohio to purchase land and to begin preparations for a home. The following year James Trimble died, and Allen, though not quite of age, assumed the responsibility for settling the estate and moving the family to the new home, which was located in Highland County, about three miles from Hillsboro. For the next few years he was employed on the family farm and in surveying for nearby landowners. In 1808 he secured a position as county clerk of courts and recorder of deeds and moved to Hillsboro, which became his home for the rest of his life. During the War of 1812 he served as commander with the rank of colonel of an expedition against the Indians on the Eel and Wabash rivers. He also commanded a battalion of militia for a brief time before it was disbanded.

Thus coming into prominence in the county, Trimble was elected as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives in the fifteenth general assembly, 1816-17, the first session to meet in the permanent capital at Columbus. In 1817 he was elected to represent Highland and Fayette counties in the Ohio Senate, and was reelected for four consecutive two-year terms (1818-26) by substantial majorities. He was elected speaker of the senate in seven assemblies, proving his popularity as a presiding officer. He was acting governor from January 4, 1822, to December 28, 1822, for Governor Brown's unexpired term.

Trimble was a candidate for governor in the fall election of 1822 but lost to Jeremiah Morrow by a decisive vote (22,899 to 26,056). The third candidate, William W. Irwin, received only about half the vote for Trimble. At the next election for governor, when there was no third candidate, the vote was 39,526 for Morrow and 37,108 for Trimble. There were no outstanding issues as both candidates agreed on the main questions of the day: support of schools and internal im- provements. The vote therefore represents the personal popularity of the candidates, and Trimble, a comparative newcomer, could not defeat the veteran statesman. By 1826, however, when Morrow was not in the running, Trimble won over three other candidates by an over- whelming majority. His work on the canal fund commission and as presiding officer of the senate had apparently increased his reputation and popularity. In 1828, as leader of the Clay Whigs, he again won the governorship over the Jackson party candidate. He did not seek the office for a third term.

As governor and legislator Trimble consistently supported pro- gressive measures for education. In 1822 he appointed the commission headed by Caleb Atwater whose report formed the basis of Ohio's common school system. He urged state support of institutions of higher learning to keep western boys from going east for their advanced training. To him should go much of the credit for the state's notable progress in education in this early period. He contributed much also to the development of the state's canal system. In 1824 he was appointed as one of three members of the first canal fund commission to negotiate loans for financing their construction. During his first elected term as governor the general assembly authorized the executive to select a half million acres of land which the federal government had granted the state for subsidizing the canals. Trimble with an assistant personally examined lands in the Sandusky and Maumee river valleys for this purpose. Another vital question of the time was that of the increasing free Negro population in Ohio. Trimble favored the idea of African colonization of freed Negroes which might reduce the influx of free Negroes into the state, but little came of the scheme.

Although Trimble did not hold public office after 1830, he re- mained active in party politics, being a delegate to the National Re- publican convention in 1831 and a losing candidate for the legislature in 1832. His defeat is attributed to the increased strength of the Demo- cratic party and the loss of control by the National Republicans. In 1855 he consented to become a candidate for governor on the American party ticket, apparently hoping to stem the tide of disunion.

After 1830 Trimble concentrated his energies on his agricultural interests. He was especially interested in improving domestic breeds of cattle and horses and was a stockholder in the Ohio Company for Importing English Cattle organized in Chillicothe in 1833. He was instrumental in establishing the state board of agriculture and became its first president (1846-48). He died in Hillsboro on February 3, 1870, at the age of eighty-six. He was survived by his wife, four sons, and a daughter. The Ohio Historical Society


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