James Rees Ewing.

Public services of Jacob Dolson Cox, governor of Ohio and secretary of the interior online

. (page 1 of 3)
Online LibraryJames Rees EwingPublic services of Jacob Dolson Cox, governor of Ohio and secretary of the interior → online text (page 1 of 3)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


If ♦



•i ** s


Ift— 47S72-2 OPO





Governor of Ohio and Secretary of the Interior










r - . <" . ^




Governor of Ohio and Secretary of the Interior














Th* Uoiv«r*ity,


These pages form a portion of a monograph which attempts to
point out the extent and value of the Hfe services of Jacob Dolson
Cox. His official life is here separated from a biographical essay
which devotes attention for the most part to the military career of
that distinguished citizen. The writer wishes to express his thanks
to friends who have kindly assisted him, and especially to Professor
P. V. N. Myers, of the University of Cincinnati, save for whom
this sketch would never have appeared.

Denison University Library,
Granville, Ohio, October i, 1898.



Cox IN THE State Senate.

His Election and Associates in the Senate ; Field of Senate's
Activity; His Attitude Towards the Problems of the Time ;
His Share in Legislation ; Military Preparations 9

Cox Governor of Ohio.

His Election ; Oberlin Committee ; His Inaugural Address ;
Intervenes Between President Johnson and Congress ; Pre-
sides at the Pittsburg National Convention in 1866 ; His
Recommendations to the General Assembly of Ohio Acted
Upon By Affirmative Legislation 1-1

Cox Secretary of the Interior.

His Acceptance of a Cabinet Portfolio ; San Domingo
Annexation Scheme ; His Policy Towards the Indians ; His
Views on Civil-Service Reform ; His Letter to Justice D. C.
Humphreys ; His Recommendations Acted Upon By Affirm-
ative Legislation in Congress ; His Resignation 19

Cox IN Congress.

His Election ; His Proposed Amendment of the Resumption
Act ; His Votes on the Bland Bill and His Views on
Bi-metallism 26

Conclusion 28

Bibliography 30

Vita 31


JACOB DOLSON COX was born October 27, 1828, in Montreal,
Canada. On his mother's side he is descended from Elder
William Brewster, of the Mayflower, the Allyns of New London
and Groton, Connecticut, and the Kenyons, of Connecticut. On
his father's side the Coxes were of the family of Koch from Han-
over, Germany, of whom one Michael Cox (Koch) immigrated
in 1702, settling in New York City in 1705, soon after the conquest
of the province of New York from the Dutch. Jacob Dolson Cox,
Sr., received his name Dolson from his mother, Mary Dolson, of a
family of Dutch settlers of Duchess County, New York.

Jacob D. Cox, Sr,, became known as an important man in tim-
ber-farming by building a ship-house at Savannah, Georgia, for
the navy yard of the United States. He was thereupon employed
to go to Montreal, to frame the timber roofing of the Church of
Notre Dame, which was for a long time the largest building of its
kind on the American continent. His work also extended to the
general superintendence of the construction of the building ; there-
fore, he took his family there temporarily, and Jacob D. Cox, Jr.,
was born on foreign soil while his father was thus employed.

The childhood and youth of Cox were spent in New York City.
He received the usual education in private schools of that time.
In 1842, not expecting to be able to take a college education, in con-
sequence of his father's business reverses resulting from the
financial crisis of 1837 and 1838, he entered, as a law clerk, the
office of Harrison and Ogden, equity lawyers of New York City.
Mr. Harrison was comptroller of Trinity Church corporation, and
chiefly occupied with the affairs of that corporation, Gouverneur
Morris Ogden was a son of David B. Ogden, one of the most
eminent jurists of New York City,

The law of New York then required, for admission to the bar,
seven years' clerkship in a lawyer's office for everyone who had not
a college education, and young Cox entered w'ith that in view.
Beginning at the age of fourteen, he would have been admitted

8 Public Services of Jacob Dolson Cox

to the bar at the age of twenty-one, but after two years' clerkship
he began to form plans to get a college education ; and, wdth a view
to this, changed his employment to the office of a broker and
banker on Wall street, Anthony Lake, as that work gave short
hours and left leisure for private study.

He obtained assistance from a friend who was a student in the
Union Theological Seminary in New York City, who gave him
lessons in the elements of Greek and Latin. He had already
pushed his mathematical studies far enough to enter college in
those days. Two years more were spent in this way. His father's
family had by this time moved to Staten Island ; and he went to
business daily, back and forth, from Tompkinsville on the Nar-
rows' side.

In July, 1846, he determined to go to Oberlin, Ohio, having
become interested in the college there through the Rev. Charles
G. Finney, the distinguished revivalist, who was then professor of
theology and afterwards president of the college. He entered the
preparatory department, in which he spent one year, and was
graduated from the college in 1851, with the degree of A.B. He
then removed to Warren, Ohio, where for two years he was super-
intendent of the schools of Warren and principal of the High
School. Meanwhile, he was reviewing his law reading, and in
1853 was admitted to the bar. His first law partner was M. D.
Leggett, later Commissioner of Patents, and during the war Major-
General of Volunteers. On Leggett's leaving Warren, Cox became
the partner of John Hutchins, who succeeded Joshua R. Giddings
as member of Congress.

Mr. Cox's political affiliations were with the Anti-slavery Whigs,
and he voted for General Scott for President in 1852. He was
active in the negotiations which led to the fusion of the Whigs
and Free Soilers, and in 1855 was a delegate to the convention at
Columbus which organized the Republican party in Ohio.

Public Services of Jacob Dolson Cox


In 1859 Mr. Cox was elected State Senator in the district com-
prising Trumbull and ^Mahoning counties, although he had not
been a candidate for nomination, and knew nothing of it until
the nomination was made. Upon taking his place in the Senate,
he formed an early friendship with Salmon P. Chase, then Gover-
nor and United States Senator-elect, and with William Dennison,
Governor-elect. He had already made the acquaintance of James
A. Garfield, the head of the Disciples' College at Hiram, who,
with Professor James Monroe, of Oberlin, was elected to the State
Senate at the same time. In the Senate chamber the seats of these
three men were together, and they were known as the " trio " of
Western Reserve Republicans. Cox and Garfield lodged together
at the house of W. T. Bascom, who was editor of the Ohio State

It was during this term in the Senate that John Sherman^ was
first elected to the United States Senate, although in the elec-
tion itself, Cox, Garfield and Christopher P. Wolcott, Attorney-
General, were managers for Governor Dennison, who was also a
candidate, and at one time seemed likely to be elected. Other
significant matters also came forward, and it is needless to say that
the period was heavy with problems which were perplexing the
American people. The tone and temper of the Ohio Legislature for
the term ending at the outbreak of the Civil War were thoroughly
tested by the variety and importance of the subjects brought before
it. Slavery, woman's rights, and temperance were the three great
problems of the time pressing for solution.

Slavery agitated the governments of state and nation at the same
time. Senator Crittenden's Compromise Proposals in Congress
were discussed in the General Assembly of Ohio, but no motion
was carried to agree to them.- A resolution was passed to send
five commissioners to the Peace Conference out of a " sincere

^Senate Journal, 1861, p. 198.
^House Journal, t86i, p. 77.

lo Public Services of Jacob Dolson Cox

desire to have all differences harmoniously adjusted," with the
explicit understanding, however, that Ohio was not prepared to
accept the proposition of Virginia.^

A resolution was passed urging that application be made to
Congress to call a convention, to amend the Constitution of the
United States.- and later the General Assembly ratified the pro-
posed Douglas Amendment to the Constitution."

Massachusetts and other Northern States passed personal-liberty
Acts, which were in the nature of retaliation for the Fugitive Slave
Law of 1850."' Ohio did not pass such an Act, although petitions
were presented in the General Assembly for that purpose. '^ Cox's
attitude may be seen in the fact that he presented one of these
petitions himself. There was debate over a proposal to register
the colored population of the State to forbid any colored person,
under a penalty, to enter the State with a determination to remain
permanently. A law to punish child-stealing*' was passed in the
interest of the colored race. A fortnight before the enactment
one thousand dollars had been appropriated by the State to termi-
nate the litigation, in Wayne county, Virginia, concerning four
colored children out of eight of the Peyton Polly family, who had
been seized in Lawrence county, Ohio, where they had been living
in freedom, with a view to reducing them to slavery.'^ On the
other hand, a statute was enacted to prevent the amalgamation of
the white and colored races. ^

Slavery and woman's rights were connected in the conscious-
ness of American women at this time, for they felt that their cause
was in a certain way allied to that of the negro in the struggle for
emancipation. In Ohio the subject was alive with interest. Ladies
frequented the galleries of the legislative chambers in 1861. when
woman's rights were under discussion ; and some substantial ad-
vances were made, for a law was passed conferring upon married

^Laws of Ohio, 1861, p. 177.

^Laws of Ohio, 1861, p. 181.

'Laws of Ohio, 1861, p. 190.

^Johnston's American Politics, p. 154 (Edition of 1884).

^Senate Journal, i860, p. 105.

'Laws of Ohio, i860, p. 85.

'Laws of Ohio, i860, p. 149.

*Laws of Ohio, 1861, p. 6.

Public Services of Jacob Dolson Cox ii

women enlarged legal rights, in relation to real and personal prop-
erty.^ To this end Senator Cox had presented a petition.

As became a descendant of Puritan ancestors of New England,
educated in the Western Reserve District in Ohio, Cox was dis-
posed, in the discussions which preceded a legislative enactment,
to exercise firm common sense, and to observe a cautious, con-
servative policy in the heated times just before the outbreak of
civil hostilities. His personal attitude towards the great moral
problems, when they were precipitated out of the air into definite
statements in bills and resolutions, is seen in the votes which he cast.

In respect to the resolution to send commissioners to Wash-
ington, to meet in the conference headed by Virginia, he offered a
substitute, saying that it was the part of Congress to inaugurate
the movement, " while we cordially reciprocate every desire on the
part of Virginia to cure the present troubles."- On the resolution,
as finally amended, he cast one of three dissenting votes. While
he voted affirmatively on the bill to request Congress to call a
convention^ to amend the Constitution, he afterward cast one of
eight dissenting votes against ratifying* the Douglas Amendment.

On the bilP conferring woman's rights. Senator Cox cast an
affirmative vote. He committed himself to a safe position by
declaring that, while granting to woman the legal rights sought
for. the simple and obvious truth of the indissoluble unity in the
marriage relation would guard against possible unwise legislation.®
Senator Cox's share, in the legislative results of his term, was not
inconsiderable. Four important bills" which he introduced were
enacted laws during his term of service.

The agitation of secession led to attempts to form a better organ-
ization of the militia in Ohio, and for that purpose Senator Cox
was appointed a brigadier-general by the Governor. The move-

^Laws of Ohio. 1861, pp. 54-55. On February 21, 1861. Senator Qo^
had presented a petition for a law conferring legal rights upon married
women in relation to property.

^Senate Journal, 1861, p. 58.

'Senate Journal, 1861, p. 177.

^Senate Journal, 1861, p. 289.

■'Senate Journal, 1861. p. 202.

''Ohio State Journal, March 20, 1861.

"Note at the end of the chapter.

12 Public Services of Jacob Dolson Cox

ment, however, amounted to nothing more than a nominal enrol-
ment, by towns and counties, of persons liable to military duty, so
that Cox never appeared in uniform until the war began. He,
however, devoted a considerable part of his leisure time during
the two years of his term to the study of tactics and military
history, with a half-consciousness that this knowledge would be
needed. Having made arrangements in the last part of April,
1861, to return to the Senate at the proper time to cast his vote, he
began under the instruction of Governor Dennison to put the State
on a military footing.^

Note. — The second session of the General Assembly, for the term, held
on until nearly the middle of May, 1861, and it will be observed that Mr.
Cox, while making the military preparations described below, was still a

About that time. Captain George B. McClellan, at the invitation
of Governor Dennison, came to Columbus for consultation. Sen-
ator Cox escorted him from the depot to the State House, and
was present when the two men met. The Governor offered to
McClellan the command, to place Ohio on a military footing for
the war, and he accepted it. The following day Senator Cox
accompanied McClellan to the State Arsenal, which they found
almost empty of the materials of war. On their return to the State
House, a room was given them and they went to work.

On April 29 Senator Cox was ordered, by McClellan, to proceed
to Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, where a site had been selected
for a camp of instrtiction. He took with him one full regiment
and half of another. Captain Rosecrans came from Cincinnati as
an engineer, and duly completed arrangements to accommodate ten

The Brigadier-Generals, besides^ Cox, were J. H. Bates and
Newton Sleich, and General Bates, who was the senior in rank,
took command in McClellan's absence. McClellan had intended

^ Under the then existing law of the United States, the officering of all
the troops of the first call was done by the Governors of States. Congress
soon passed a new law, authorizing Unted States Volunteers for three
years, and under it J. D. Cox was commissioned Brigadier-General of the
United States Volunteers, to rank from May 17. His commission in the
Ohio troops called into the national service dated April 23, 1861. See
J. D. Cox, in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. i, p. 89.

^King's History of Ohio, p. 370.

Public Services of Jacob Dolson Cox 13

that the brigades in Camp Dennison should be permanent. How-
ever, Cox was the only one of the Brigadier-Generals who remained
in the service after the ninety days' enlistment had expired, and
he entered the service in command of regiments of which only one
had been in his brigade in camp.

Note. — On January 21, i860, Senator Cox introduced a bill
regulating the responsibility of inn-keepers.^ This is the well-
known statute, now found all over the Union, which provides that
an inn-keeper, who is furnished with an iron safe in his inn, shall
not be compelled to compensate a guest for the loss of any articles,
such as money, jewelry, et cetera, unless he had refused or neglected
to deposit in his safe articles which a guest may have offered to
him for safe-keeping.

On February 15, i860, he introduced a bill relating to the action
of a jury, in a case in which goods levied on are claimed by a third
person, and on March 12 it became a law.-

It was enacted that if the jury found the property in contro-
versy rightfully belonging to the claimant, the justice should order
a judgment that the claimant might recover both the costs and the
property itself. If, however, the jury found that the right to the
property was not in the claimant, the justice was to issue an order
that the party in the execution might recover the costs against the

^Laws of Ohio, i860, p. 15.
^Laws of Ohio, i860, p. 31.

14 Public Services of Jacob Dolson Cox


The limitations of this paper do not permit an account of the
distinguished services of General Cox in the War of the Rebellion.
This experience must, however, be taken into consideration for
its effect upon his subsequent career. His marked executive ability
brought him the approbation of military men, and he returned to
civil life with the plaudits of his fellow-citizens. Having been
already in public service, his experience was almost immediately
placed in requisition.

The Republican State Convention of Ohio met^ at Columbus
on June 21, 1865, to place in nomination candidates for State
offices. General Cox, having served with distinction through the
whole period of the Civil War, was v/ell known and popular in the
State. His name, when presented before the convention, was
received with enthusiasm, and his nomination for Governor was
made by acclamation.- He was duly elected, in October,^ but in the
summer,* while he was still a candidate, two gentlemen of Oberlin,
Ohio, signing themselves the Oberlin Committee, '^ addressed to him
a letter of inquiry. He was asked if he was in favor of conferring
the elective franchise upon the colored people. General Cox had
not attempted to conceal his views on the subject, yet the surprise
with which unconfirmed rumors had been received in his early
home provoked the inquiry. He answered immediately*' with a
carefully prepared solution of the problem. He advocated a peace-
able separation, of the white and black elements of the population,
the black race being assigned to a definite area of the American
soil. From such a solution he looked for a three-fold consequence :

^Joseph P. Smith's History of the Republican Party in Ohio, Vol. i,
p. 202.

"Joseph P. Smith's History of the Republican Party in Ohio, Vol. i,
p. 20s.

'OctolKT 10.


^Ohio State Journal, July 26, 1865.

^Ohio State Journal, July 26, 1865.

Public Services of Jacob Dolson Cox 15

The black man would be invested with all political rights ; the
representation of the Southern whites would be reduced to their
own numbers ; and the common interest and identity would be
secured by the permanent peace of the Government. He did not
subsequently change these views on negro suffrage, which were
commented on by the press throughout the State and had a bearing
on his relations to the Republican party, but when the amendment
to the Constitution conferring the elective franchise on the freed-
man had passed^ he then advocated, in the campaign of 1867,
amending the Ohio Constitution, so as to accord with the National,
on the ground that since negro suffrage had been forced on the
Southern States, where it was really dangerous, the people in the
North were bound to accept it, where it was a matter of compara-
tively small moment.

Governor Cox was inducted into office on January 8, 1866, and
in his inaugural address- he formulated maxims of government
in which were expressed his views of reconstruction. Conquest
does not rightfully give unlimited sway over the persons and the
property of the conquered. Military government is despotic, and
if continued after the cessation of hostilities is opposed to republi-

Respecting the general situation of President Johnson's quarrel
with Congress, it may be remarked that Governor Cox's friend,
ex-Governor Dennison, had been Postmaster-General in the latter
part of Lincoln's term, and held over for some time under Mr.
Johnson. Through information obtained from ex-Governor Den-
nison, as well as from other sources, public and private, Governor
Cox knew that the so-called Restoration Policy of Mr. Johnson was
in all essential particulars that of Mr. Lincoln, and that Johnson
was not striking out in a new course of action of his own. Gov-
ernor Cox's predilection was toward Mr. Lincoln's plans, and he
did not doubt that with his sagacity in carrying out such plans or
modifying them to suit circumstances he would have been allowed
by Congress to carry out his own plans, but Mr. Johnson as a new
man was more open to the antagonism of such leaders as Thad-
deus Stevens, and his combative manners made him open to defeat.
On February 26, 1866, Governor Cox was in Washington, and read

ijune 13, 1866.

^Executive Documents of Ohio, part i, 1865, pp. 305-312.

i6 Piiblic Services of Jacob Dolson Cox

a letter^ to the Representatives in Congress from Ohio which was
sent to Hon. George B. Wright, chairman of the Ohio RepubHcan
Central Committee at Columbus.

Cox also had interviews with President Johnson and with
various leaders in Congress, and had striven to pave the way for a
reconciliation between them. In the letter Governor Cox said that
President Johnson had tried to fall in with the plan which Lincoln
would have adopted. He desired the earliest possible restoration of
peace on the basis of loyalty. Governor Cox's acquaintance with
President Johnson led him to think well of his general honesty
and patriotism, and he tried to soften the antagonism between him
and the Congressional leaders. On the other hand, when the
extreme views of Stevens and Sumner had been modified, a little
later, in the Acts actually passed by Congress, Governor Cox urged
the President to yield as a measure of compromise, and not to
veto the bills. President Johnson had, however, become committed
to a bitter conflict and declined to do so, and Governor Cox with-
drew from further efforts to influence him.

The same year was remarkable for the calling of four national
conventions.- The selection of Representatives and Senators in the
States for Congress was the movement which engaged in competi-
tion the friends and opponents of the Administration, and the most
stirring interest in such a political act would naturally be found
in the States themselves, but the excitement expanded into expres-
sions by the nation, as well. One of the national conventions was
held at Pittsburg, and the delegates^ were soldiers and sailors.
Governor Cox* was unanimously chosen permanent chairman of
the convention. He had earlier in the year withdrawn from Presi-
dent Johnson, whose stubbornness and pugnacity threw him into
aw^kward and critical attitudes, and the clear depths of his address
before the convention showed the strong convictions which
anchored him. He said that it was " unpleasant to recognize the
truth that it is in the minds of some to exalt the executive depart-
ment of the Government into a despotic power, and to abase the

^Ohio State Journal, February 27, 1866.
''Twenty Years in Congress, Vol. 11, pp. 220-230-232.
^About 25,000 delegates were present.

* General John A. Logan had been the first choice, but in his absence
Governor Cox was selected.

Public Services of Jacob Dolson Cox 17

representative portion of our Government into the mere tools of
despotism. We know that the will of the people has been expressed
in the character of the existing Congress. We have expressed our
faith that the proposition which has been made by Congress for the
settlement of all difficulties in the country (14th amendment) is
not only a wise policy, but one so magnanimous that the world stood
in wonder that a people could in such circumstances be so mag-
nanimous to those whom they had conquered."

In his first annual message to the General Assembly of Ohio,
Governor Cox made five important recommendations, which were
definitely and promptly responded to by affirmative legislative

1 3

Online LibraryJames Rees EwingPublic services of Jacob Dolson Cox, governor of Ohio and secretary of the interior → online text (page 1 of 3)