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Sketch of Joseph Benson Foraker, 1883 online

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Joseph Benson Foraker,

—5 1883.1—




[This hastily prepared sketch is made by a sincere friend of intellecflual, moral
and patriotic worth, and without consultation with any politician whatever. It
aims to discern the real, essential man, through the accidents of soldier, student
lawyer, officer, and judge. By reaching the veritable manhood of Joseph Ben-
son FoRAKER as exhibited in his past and the living present we can be quite
confident of his future.

Trifling inaccuracies may be found as the writer has had no access to the Judge
is his distant campaign.]

Press of U. B Publishing House, Dayton, O,

The princlpid reason why Jud<;e ForaKer has been enabled to do so much work is that he
has a sound mind in a sound body. Another reason is that he takes everything coolly, and
allows nothin" to worry him. When he speaks he never saws the air nor wears his shoes out
by stamping tlie platform. He stands quietly before his audience, speaks in a clear, distinct
tone, impressing nis hearers by his dignified demeanor, commanding the closest attention,
and making everybody hear him. His audiences feel that they are in the presence of a man
of superior mental ability; that they are listening to the thoughts of a clean-cut, original
mind, that holds in reserve a jiower of intellect thiit can be drawn upon almost without limit.
The easy, unlabored style of Judge Foraker's oratory is its principal charm and the grent
secret o^ his power of endurance He is a model for young orators. — Clevtland Leader.

Joseph Benson For aker.


It is said with reference to the duty of citizens at the polls,
"Principles and not men ;" and, again, that only the character of
candidates for office is to be considered. Is not the true maxim,
" Men, and also principles?"

We have in Judge Foraker, both the noble, pure and patriotic

man, and sound and well-tried principles. Nothing from his

birth has been suggested that needs defense or apology. Hon. B.

Butterworth says of him :

'• He is a man without a flaw in intellect or morals. I would trust him with my
dearest interests. If I lay on my death-bed and J. B. Foraker took my hand and
said, ' I will look after your little ones,' I should be entirely satisfied. I know
him to be afraid of but one thing — to do wrong."

Foraker's opponent, Judge Hoadley, admits the very temperate
and pure mode of life of the Eepublican candidate for Governor,
He says " J. B. Foraker ain't the man who would ever say a
thing which he was conscious was untrue," even in politics.

Judge Foraker, at fourteen years of age, while on the farm, be-
came a communicant of the church, and so continues. His piety
is not ostentatious, but quiet and modest. He courts not business
nor promotion by his religious association, nor by any connection
with any society whatever.

foraker's NOMINATION.

Judge Foraker's nomination was not of the ordinary political
sort. It was without the usual political conferences. It was with-
out effort upon his part. He did not seek it. He did not even
desire it. The Enquirer said of Foraker, " He is not an office-
seeker." The candidacy for Governor came to him from the

— 4 —

people, from his neighbors, from his clients, from the private sol-
diers. It was free, hearty, enthusiastic, whole-souled. When it
was generally determined that the candidate for Governor must
be sought in southern Ohio, men of cool reflection and judgment,
men of business and of morals, men of patriotic record, and men
of patriotic impulse at various points, turned with spontaniety to
Judge Foraker.

When the gubernatorial candidacy was seriously pressed upon
Foraker, he thought of the regular duties of his office, of his fond
wife and dear children, and of his domestic and social happiness,
although all was plain and ordinary in his $3,000 house on the
airy hills. Ever ready to serve his country, he thought the sacri-
fice great. He had made little more than a living in his honest
practice, and in his honest administration of office. He could see
before him only self-denial and continued scantiness of income.
He coveted not mere honor. In his full heart he said to his
friends :

*' If Mr. will make the race, you can draw on me for

^1,000 for the campaign fund, but I refuse to contribute the small-
est amount for my own candidacy." But the people said, our can-
didate you must be.

They had known Judge Foraker in the humbler, and they could
trust him in the higher sphere of duty. He came before the peo-
ple of Ohio as did Lincoln of Illinois, and as did Grant in his
army promotion. As Lincoln was not the choice of politicians,
nor Grant that of the genei-als, so Foraker' s meritorious proper-
ties were first appreciated and recognized by the people. He was
the choice of the people of his section, and is that of the whole
State for governor, and his character as developing in the canvas,
is giving him a reputation among the people of the country at

Views of political preferment beyond the position of governor
were presented to encourage consent. He frankly said that he
had no ulterior ambition ; that he preferred home and his profes-
sion, and his regular income ; that he could give but two years to
his State and party ; that if thought necessary, he consented to

— 5 —

this arduous service as he would renewedly enter upon the defense
of his country, against domestic or foreign foe.

There was a geujcral feeliL.g over the State for a new man. The
people wanted purity of character, and freedom for political com-

After consent was given to be a candidate, he said, " I shall do
nothing to create a boom for myself at the convention. 1 shall
set no wires. The convention must settle the question."

The prayer at the opening of the convention was answered, that
the " men nominated should be men of integrity and honor, of
purity and of blameless lite ; men who will do justly, who love
mercy, and walk humbly before God."

Hon. Mr. Watson said in convention :

»' More than twenty years ago, when Republicanism was the only power that
was guiding this nation in the darkness of the civil war, a boy sixteen years of age
entered the army as a private soldier. He sought neither fame nor glory. His
only love was love for his country. His highest and holiest ambition was to fight
in the ranks and for the flag. A year later, for special bravery on the battle-field,
he was made a captain — the youngest captain in all that mighty host that battled
for the stars. He was with that magnificent army — the grandest that ever stepped
to martial music — whose achievements thrilled the nation with joy and the world
with wonder as it marched to the sea and restored the flag to eternal supremacy in
the land of its banishment."

His nomination was made by acclamation, followed by a scene
of wild enthusiasm. Delegates rose in their places, and jumping
on their chairs waved their hats and handkerchiefs frantically.
The spirit of the movement animated all. Shout after shout, hur-
rah after hurrah weiit up, and the noise was beyond description.
Even the sedate assembly of gentlemen on the stage forgot their
dignity and reserve and joined in the tumultuous applause. The
great sound was heard in the street, and thus the fact of Foraker's
nomination was known to the outside- world.

Among the good things in the Judge's speech of acceptance be-
fore the convention is (his:

'•The twenty-five years of Republican rule have been twenty - five years ot
triumph — triumph in war, triumph in peace, triumph at home, and triumph abroad,
— until the whole globe has come to be circled with a living current of respect and
esteem for the American flag and the American name that is absolutely without a
parallel in the case of any other nation on the face of the earth." [Applause.]

The reporters at the convention said that Judge Foraker't
speeches, extempore as they were, were exceptionally free from
grammatical or constructional errors. There is no pretence of
eloquence, but his speeches are ringing in well chosen, crisp lan-

After the nomination prominent Democrats in southern Ohio
tiestified to the Judge's worth

-6 —

Hon. Thos. Paxton declared him to be " an honor to the bar, an
excellent citizen, a worthy gentleman."

Judge Wilson said: "Foraker is no fossil, and represents the
progressive elements of his party. Judge Poraker"s nomination
is the very bet?t that the Eepublican party could have made. He
is a man of ability, of fine character, and as courteous a public
officer as ever officiated. He deserves all the warm friends he has
made in his official career."

Hon. Mr. Follett said, "Foraker is a strong and a good man."

Hon. Mr. Jordan considered Judge Foraker "a man of eminent
ability, and socially very popular."

liepresentative Butterworth said, " No one doubts the character

of Foraker. His record as a soldier, citizen, and lawyer is brilliant.

Every part of his record from the cradle has been searched, and

there is not a flaw in it. A party, that has had in its heart to

nominate such a man, who represents such a pure and exalted

morality, deserves to be victorious."

Hon. Mr. Townsend said at Athens that " Foraker is a high-
minded citizen, with qualifications of the highest order — patriot-
ism, sincerity, and honesty. His appearance wins. He is prudent,
thoughtful, and a man who does not blunder. In his speeches he
is judicial, with depth and dignity. Foraker can not be the tool
of any man. His dignity protects him from such insinuations.
He is too great a man to be subordinate long anywhere. "

Hun. Thos. M'Dougall said at Magnetic Springs of Judge For-

" For many years my warm personal friend, my associate at the bar,
and my neighbor, I can speak of him from personal knowledge. People
say of him he has no record. What do they mean ? True, he has not
the record of a political acrobat. * * * * He did not seek, did not need
to seek, his nomination. There are no heart-burnings, no factional fights
attached to his record. * * * * Ben. Foraker has nothing to explain, no
apologies to make, no telegrams to send. * * * * Ben. Foraker — his only
record is that of a loyal and affectionate son, a brave and brilliant soldier,
an honorable, able, and conscientious judge, an honest, manly, and patri-
otic citizen, and a loving and devoted husband and father.

*'* And thus he bears without abuse
The grand old name of gentleman.'

"Eminently qualified and completely equipped, the office sought him by
acclamation, with honor and credit, and he has more than fulfilled in his
conduct of the campaign, the high expectations of those of us who knew,
him best and had formed of him. the opinion that

" * From men like these Ohio's greatness springs

That makes her loved at home, revered abroad;
Princes and lords are but the breath of kings —
An honest man is the noblest work of God.'

" In him you have one whose heart is true to law, to liberty, to right*
who has the brain to plan and the courage to execute the purposes of such

a heart. When, some years ago, the convention of which I was a mem-
ber nominated him, then comparatively unknown in our city, for Judge of
the Superior Court of our city, people said he had no record, and asked.
'Who is he?' They soon found out who he was. I knew him then; I
know him now. When nominated for governor the same cry arose, 'He
has no record.' 'Who is he ?' They are finding out who he is."

Senator Sherman in his address at Cincinnati said that he never
saw Judge Foraker till he met him at the state convention, and
he was immediately pleased with his bearing, with his manner,
his speech, and his conduct; he was gentle, kind, intelligent; but
firm and strong. The conversation he had with him before his
nomination impressed upon him that he was a man worthy to
carry the Eepublican banner; he has made no mistake in his can-
vass, but has borne the Republican banner on from victory to


" God give us men a time Hke this demands.
Great hearts, strong minds, true faith, and willing hands;

Men whom the lust of office does not kill.
Men whom the spoils of office can not not buy,

Men who possess an opinion and a will,
Men who have honor, who will not lie."

FORAKEr's birth and EARLY HOME.

Like Lincoln and Grant, our candidate for governor was born
July 5, 1846, among the hills and in the country, and like Lincoln
and Harrison, in a log cabin ; born the second son and fifth child,
one mile north of Eainsboro, and ten miles due -east of Hillsboro,
Highland County, Ohio, on the Chillicothe and Milford turnpike.
The Judge's father frequently has said that Saturday, the fourth,
there was a militia muster at Eainsboro, in connection with the
anniversary, and that on account of the Mexican war which com-
menced that year, and was then in progress, there was an unusual
excitement about it, and he was especially anxious to attend. On
account of the Judge's expected arrival, he stayed at home and
cradled wheat all day.

The Judge is one of eleven children, six boys and five girls :
two of whom, one boy and one girl, died in infancy. The remain-
ing nine, grown to manhood, are still living, except Burch, his old-
est brother, who won position, honor, and respect, and died at the
age of thirty-four.

His sisters living, are Sarah Elizabeth, wife of Milton McKeo-

THE OLD MILL (See page 13.)


-8 —

ban ; Louisa Jane, widow of Samuel Amen ; Maggie Eeece, wife
of Wm, C. Newell, son of the old miller, and all resident at Hills-
boro. His brothei-s are James Ross, a law partner of the Judge,
and Charles Elliott, and Creighton, at home.

In the wild and picturesque valley of Kooky Fork, in Highland
County, Ohio, was Foraker's paternal home for ten years, in the
log cabin near Eainsboro, and nine miles from Greenfield.

Scenery, hills, the country, climate, and honest and sturdy
neighbors had somewhat to do with puerile development; but pa-
rental character and care vastly more.

Into the Eocky Fork Valley of Paint Creek, David Eeese came
in 1802, from Virginia, on account of his detestation of slavery,
and as a pioneer in what was then a wilderness. He cleared his
farm and had not completed his task when, in 1813, he entered
the army and served on the northern frontier. He represented
Highland County in the State legislature — an honest and respected
citizen. One of bis daughters, the Judge's mother, married Henry
S. Foraker, the father of the Judge, whose family had also settled
in Highland County, moving from Delaware because of their dis-
taste of slavery. Into their possession came the old farm and saw
and grist-mill, where Joseph Benson spent most of his early days.


In this old saw-mill was often the church-gathering on Sunday
for the pioneer families, the preacher putting his Bible and hymn
book on the top of an up-ended puncheon, and the congregation
seated on improvised benches. This was the early church of the
Forakers and Eees .


The school-house was a poor cabin, deserted by its original ten-
ant for a better location. The ventilation was abundant, and the
scholars picked out the clay of the chinking until every cranny
was open to the wind. The teachers could sit near the fire-place,
the pupils write with their faces toward the window, but in con-
ning their lessons straddling the benches without a back, the girls
on one side and the boys on the other of the room.

— 9 —

The reign of the rod was not disputed by the teacher, who
taught but few branches in winter, and wrought in summer. , The
tramp of the pupils for miles through the untrodden snow, with
the cold dinner, was of itself discipline enough.

Such was the pioneer school of the Foraker s, at Eocky Fork.

A correspondent of the Commercial Gazette in a late visit to
Highland gives us information as to Foraker s parents. Upon
his inquiry as to Ben's father, the store-keeper of the hamlet at
Eainsboro, replied :

" Well, he's in the back of the store now, trading some butter."

Looking in the direction indicated, an elderly man, dressed as a far-
mer, with sunburn face and hands, was seen. His broad-brimmed straw
hat, which was darkened and formless from long exposure to all kinds of
weather, was pushed back from his forehead, and his thin, snowy locks
were in full view. He is, every inch of him, a hale, hearty old man,
whose appearance tells of a head stored with good, sound common sense,
and he belongs to that class whom ono delights to refer to as the 'bone
and sinew.' His distinguished son resembles him very much, the father's
high brow, and nose with the firm, open nostrils, being duplicated in the
son. He had just come in from the farm, bringing with him six great
rolls of yellow, sweet-smelling butter, which Mrs. Foraker had churned
but a few hours before, and which he was exchanging for groceries. -

"What do you want it in ?" the store-keeper was heard to ask.

"My wife told me to get it in sugar, to put up her blackberries and

While the sugar was being put up, the correspondent introduced himself
to Mr. Foraker, who straightway insisted that he should accompany him
home, and, as it was near dinner time, an extra plate would be put upon
the table.

"There's always enough, and it's good, hearty country fare," he urged;
"but I'm sorry you came all the way from Cincinnati, and I didn't know
beforehand, for we can't make an extra spread for you now. You see,
one of our neighbors is threshing, and we lent our hired girl to help them,
and so Mrs. Foraker is all alone ; but our friends are always welcome."


The Foraker farm, which consists of 170 acres of good upland, is on
the Hillsboro pike, from which the plain, comfortable house, painted
white, with reddish-brown shutters, is plainly visible. The immense barn
is between the house and the road, and the first thing one sees on reach-
ing the place is a towering heap of whea' straw, which has just been
threshed, and which is piled so high as to f lirly eclipse the barn. In front
of the house are aged trees, in whose grateftl shade unnumbered chickens
and curious young turkeys lazily take their noon-time rest, scarcely mov-
ing as the newspaper visitor makes his way up the walk. On the porch
are Mr. Foraker and his son, Charles, a younger brother of the Judge's,
who is determined to be a farmer, who greet the traveler hospitably, and
all these engage in a political discussion, while the lady of the house can
be heard bustling about inside s^etting dinner.

— 10 —


"Mr. Foraker," asked your correspondent, "didn't you object to the
Judge entering the army?"

"I did, but the boy was set upon it, so I let him go. You see his elder
brother, Burch, was in a law office in Hillsboro, and when he enlisted,
Ben thought he must go and fill his place. By and by he caught the fever,
too, and said he was going to be a soldier. I told him that he was not
mature enough ; that he could not endure the long marches with the
heavy burdens he would be obliged to carry ; that he would become sick,
go to the hospital and perhaps die. I thought it was good sensible advice
to tell a boy of seventeen that he could not do a man's work. But my
refusal weighed upon his mind and so I had to let him go. In his first
letter home, from Virginia, I think it was, he jubilantly wrote that while he
was carrying a load for a pony and was feeling well as ever, men of two
hundred pounds were dropping by the road side."

"Did you think that the Judge was going to be nominated ?"

"I felt it in my bones, and when the day arrived I didn't need any tele-
gram to tell me what had happened. Before the Convention I received a
letter from Ben saying that if he was nominated, Hoadley would be worthy
any man's steel, and that it would be no disgrace to be beaten by such a
man, while to be victorious would be honor indeed."

"Were you at the Convention ?"

"No, it was right in the middle of harvesting, and I could not be


"I suppose you are proud of your boy ?"

"Proud i f him ? proud of Ben ? Why, I'm his father, and I'm prouder
of him since the campaign opened than ever. I knew that Ben was pret-
ty solid, but whether he could compete with Hoadly on the stump was a
matter of doubt. Now, of course, I'm partial, for I'm his father, but when
it comes to facts I know that Ben's always on hand.

"Have you seen him since he was nominated ?"

"He wrote me just after the Convention that he wanted to come here
and rest for a day or two, and then he wrote again that he was kept , so
busy that he din't know if he would ever come, but I saw him vv'hen he
made his Fourth of July speech at Leesburg. For a long time I iried to
get him alone, and finally we succeeded in slipping out into the bushes,
and I stole a half hour's chat with him."

"And what did you talk about .''"

"I told him that I had read every word of his speeches, and that so far
he had made no mistakes, and to be very careful. I told him to keep out
of anything low or mean, to be conscientious, but he don't need any such
advice from me. He'y got more sense as regards politics and behaving
himself than I ever will have, but he listens like a good son to everything
I say."

"Tell mo, Mr. Foraker, are you going to take an active part in the cam-
paign ?"

"All his old friends in Highland County are going to vote for him with-
out being asked, but 1 am a judge of election, and feel that to be perfectly
square I should be above electioneering."

"How did the Judge happen to choose the law?"

"I guess it was natural in him. When he was getting his education I
was asked what I was going to make of him. I always had an ambition


tto educate my children. I always felt the need of a good education my-
self, and I prepared my boys so that when the time came they could them-
selves decide upon what they wanted to do. Ben first wanted to be a sol-
dier, but after a bit he decided to be a lawyer. When he went to Cincin-
nati! told him that he couldn't live there, that it was full of lawyers and
that he would starve, but he said 'if you want to do business you must go
where it is done,' and so he went. He only knew one man there when he
went, but he got along all the same."


And then the proud old father told the story of his "boy's" trmmphs
and successes, of his goodness and kindness, and his eyes lighted with
pleasure as he spoke. While he was still chatting Mrs. Foraker came to
the door and announced that dinner was ready. She is an active old lady,
atypical farmer's wife, with sharp, kindly twinkhng eyes, and hands that
are ever busy, and in seeing her, one understands from whence comes the
Judge's indomitable courage and unceasing work. And oh how proud
she is of her son ! Her face fairly beams with joy at the mere mention of
his name and when his brilliant career is spoken of she smiles in an ex-
cess of happiness. She said that she had been "putting up" blackberries
all morning and that the visitor would have to excuse the ordinary farm-
er's fare and looked dubious when your correspondent told her that an
toonest home meal was fit for a king. And now that the dinner is a thing
of the past he can bear witness that Mrs. Foraker is as excellent a cook as
her son is a political speaker. Of course the conversation at the table was
almost entirely concerning "Ben."


"Mrs Foraker," said the writer, "nearly everybody in Ohio wants to

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Online LibraryRobert] [McMurdySketch of Joseph Benson Foraker, 1883 → online text (page 1 of 20)