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EDWARD TIFFIN. No man who has occupied the gubernatorial chair of Ohio possessed a greater genius for the administration of public affairs than Edward Tiffin, its first governor. He appeared upon the scene of action in the Northwest Territory in its creative period, when the work of moulding the destinies of a future commonwealth was committed to the care of a very few men. Head and shoulders above them all stood Edward Tiffin. His official life displayed a better general average of statesmanship than that of any of his successors. This was due to the times, the formative condition of affairs and the surrounding circumstances attendant upon the building of a new state. These conditions gave greater opportunities for action than any of his successors ever enjoyed. Yet he met all these opportunities and utilized them, which is the best indication of ability. His work in advancing and developing Ohio has not been equalled by any man in its history.
His boyhood was spent in the city of Carlisle, England, where he was born June 19th, 1766. He emigrated to this country when eighteen, and after an excellent medical education, obtained in the University of Pennsylvania, settled in Berkeley county, Virginia. There amid the scenes and lives of the
early Virginians he spent several years as a quiet and successful physician.
In 1797 Edward Tiffin with his family removed to Chillicothe in the Northwest Territory. The Indian wars were over, the “Treaty of Greenville," resulting from General Anthony Wayne's terrible chastisement of the savages, was signed, and the new and rich land within what is now the State of Ohio, was open for settlement. Within all that territory there was no place more famed for its wealth of beauty and fertility of soil than the Scioto Valley. In its very midst was planted the settlement of Chillicothe. It became the nucleus of a great Virginia emigration, and among the pioneers came Edward Tiffin. With the early settlers he was still a physician, practicing with marked success, financially and professionally. In the sparsely settled country of that day his labors carried him over many miles of travel, and he formed an acquaintance that explains his popularity in after years. He held decided views on politics; the principles of Jefferson were adopted by him early in his Virginia life, and his anti-Federal proclivities were well known in his new home.
In 1799 the people of the Northwest Territory assumed the legislative form of government, and under the provisions of the Ordinance of 1787 they elected a legislature, there being at that time five thousand male whites in the territory. Dr. Tiffin was sent as a representative from Chillicothe, and upon the assembling of the first Territorial Legislature at Cincinnati he was unanimously chosen Speaker of the House of Representatives. He held the position until Ohio became a State.
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Dr. Tiffin was a man of strong religious and moral convictions. In his early life he was an Episcopalian; in 1790 he associated himself with the Methodist Church, and was consecrated by Francis Asbury, the missionary bishop, as a local preacher. Thus he brought into the new territory beyond the Ohio, with his professional skill, the still greater influence of the spiritual physician. In both capacities he held the confidence of his fellow-citizens throughout his life. Upon his entry to the church he manumitted his slaves, and his subsequent record shows how sincere were his convictions on this subject.
As President of the first Constitutional Convention, he won still greater honors, and established his reputation as a man of unquestioned ability; so pronounced and universal was this that he was elected Governor, in January, 1803, without opposition. He was re-elected in 1805, without opposition, and in 1807 declined a third term, which public sentiment was ready to confer upon him. During his second term he summarily arrested the participants in the Burr expedition, which resulted in the flight of Burr and the breaking up of the conspiracy. His rigorous and prompt measures on this occasion called forth a public letter of thanks from President Jefferson.
In 1807 he was elected United States Senator from Ohio. While in the Senate he was the means of securing much valuable legislation for the new state. Appropriations for the Ohio River and for surveying the public lands were obtained by him, and much of the same kind of practical work which characterized him while Governor marked his Senatorial term. He resigned in March, 1809, owing to the death of his