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days, just according to the number of orators present. The people seemed hungry for speeches and singing. It was not at all uncommon for the speaking to last from noon until sundown, and the next morning find the enthusiastic partisans fresh for another day of the political picnic. At Lebanon, Urbana, Sidney, Somerset and Columbus gigantic meetings, never equalled since, were held.
1840-1860. Tom CORWIN ELECTED GOVERNOR — OHIO IN THE
WAR WITH MEXICO - CORWIN'S SPEECH IN THE
ELECTION OF WILLIAM DENNISON. Among the victories of the “log cabin" campaign was the election of Hon. Thomas Corwin Governor of Ohio by the Whigs, over Wilson Shannon, his Democratic opponent, and, at that time, Governor, by a majority of sixteen thousand. Tom Corwin, as he was popularly called, stands out now, as he did
then, as one of the most striking characters in Ohio history. He had served ten years in Congress prior to his election, and he was known throughout the country as the most brilliant orator of his day. He possessed wonderful and terrible powers of ridicule and sarcasm, and his eloquence was past description in its beauty and expression. He was passionately admired by his friends, and feared by his enemies. He was distinguished as the most effective and powerful of General Harrison's supporters in Ohio. He assumed the duties of his office December 16, 1840, and served for two years. His administration was decidedly Whig, but without any important events. He was defeated in 1842 by Wilson Shannon, his former competitor. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1844, and opposed with vigor the prosecution of the Mexican war. His speech on this subject will live in the history of political oratory as long as any of the orations of Webster or Clay. In this speech he represented the growing anti-slavery sentiments of his State. The Mexican war was the outgrowth of the desire to extend the slave power in the United States. It was opposed by New England and the Whig party generally.
War with Mexico was declared May 13, 1846. Ohio, with her positive views on the issues causing the war, did not respond very liberally with her support. As a free State, Ohio felt that the annexation of Texas, which preceded the war, was a deliberate and concocted scheme for perpetuating slavery. Hence there was not much war spirit in Ohio, nor, in fact, throughout the North. In the South, though, the enthusiasm was great and unconfined. There was difficulty in suppressing recruiting in the Southern States, and fears were expressed that enough whites would not remain at home to take charge of the slaves. The heading for calls for volunteers read, “Ho! for the Halls of the Montezumas!” but the demand for soldiers and enthusiasm fell flat in the North.
Ohio sent out four regiments of volunteers and three independent companies. The total number of men furnished was 5,536; more than any other northern state. Of these eighteen were killed and thirty-nine wounded. Among the Ohioans who gave up their lives in Mexico was General Thomas L. Hamer. He died before Monterey after a few days illness. He was a very prominent Ohio Congressman, and General Grant has pronounced him “one of the ablest men Ohio ever produced.” General Hamer was at first Major of the ist Regiment of Ohio Volunteers, but on July 1st, 1846, was commissioned Brigadier General. Colonel George W. Morgan, who afterwards became a Brigadier General in the war of the Rebellion, commanded the 2d Regiment. He was wounded in the battle of Contreras. He was brave and efficient, and reflected credit upon his State in his services to his country. So it can be seen that although Ohio was not enthusiastic for war, yet when the hour of duty came, the State and her brave sons stood by the flag as against a foreign enemy.
In August, 1846, there occurred an industrial event in Ohio, the effect of which on the wealth and growth of the State cannot be justly measured. It was the introduction of raw coal as a furnace fuel in
lieu of charcoal. The iron industry of Ohio, as we have seen, began with the construction of the first blast furnace in Mahoning county, a few miles southeast of Youngstown, in 1806. Iron was first made there in 1808. It was of course a charcoal furnace and was capable of producing but two tons per day. This was the beginning of the immense iron interests of Ohio. From 1808 up to the period of which we write, there were thirty charcoal blast furnaces built in Ohio. The most of thein were in the northern part of the State. Brush Creek Furnace, constructed in Adams county in 1816, was the second furnace in the State and the first built in Southern Ohio, but the discovery of the rich mineral deposits of the Hanging Rock region, located in Vinton, Jackson, Gallia, Lawrence and Scioto counties gave a stimulus to iron manufacture that established it as a secure and profitable industry. The first furnace constructed in this region was Union Furnace in Lawrence county in 1826.
In Northern Ohio before many years it began to be apparent that the destruction of timber for the purpose of obtaining charcoal would practically render iron smelting a thing of the past. There was a consequent embarrassment in the business that be. came serious. Ohio iron-masters looked with considerable anxiety to a series of experiments that were being carried on during the summer of 1845 at Clay Furnace, in Mercer county, Penn. They were successful, and to this furnace can be given the credit of being the first in the United States to use raw coal for fuel. The event was heralded with joy by the furnacemen of Ohio; and in August, 1846, Mahoning
Furnace, at Lowellville, in Mahoning county, was the first furnace in Ohio that carried to practical success the new system. It gave a fresh impetus to iron manufacture, and allayed painful doubts concerning its reliability.
A serious political complication occurred in the House of Representatives in the session of 1848–9. It created intense excitement throughout the State, and is illustrative of the close party contests in days gone by. The legislature at the preceding session had passed an apportionment law which gave Hamilton county five representatives, and divided the county into election districts. Eight wards of Cincinnati constituted the First election district, and the remainder of the county the Second district. At the election in October, 1848, George E. Pugh and four others ran for Representatives regardless of the division into election districts, and received the highest number of votes in the entire county. Oliver M. Spencer and George W. Runyan, Whigs, had the highest number of votes in the First district. The canvassing board, consisting of Justices of the Peace, certified to the election of Spencer and Runyan; the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas gave the certificates of election to Pugh and Pierce. Both parties claimed their seats. The Democrats adhered to the proposition that the Legislature could not constitutionally divide a county into districts for the election of members of the General Assembly.
At the opening of the session both parties were in the House at an early hour. The Democrats came earlier than the Whigs, and Benjamin F. Leiter took possession of the Speaker's chair. The Democrats