Sunday, November 23, 2003

Ohio Moments

Gov. Dennison took command in Civil War

On Nov. 23, 1815, William Dennison Jr. - Ohio's 24th governor and one of the first influential Whigs to become a Republican - was born in Cincinnati.

He graduated from Miami University in Oxford and was admitted to the bar in 1840. Dennison started practicing law in Cincinnati but soon moved to Columbus, where he became a prominent attorney. In 1848, the Whigs elected him to the State Senate.

Dennison supported the abolition of slavery and helped repeal Ohio's "Black Laws." He was elected governor after Abraham Lincoln campaigned for him in 1859. When the Civil War broke out, Dennison commandeered railroads (so troops and supplies could be transported) and telegraph lines (to prevent leaks on troop movements). Some state lawmakers were outraged.

As commander of the state militia, Dennison appointed Gen. George McClellan to organize training camps. The largest, on 500 acres north of Cincinnati, was dubbed Camp Dennison by McClellan.

Dennison was not nominated for a second gubernatorial term. But President Lincoln made him postmaster general, a position he held until 1866. Dennison died in Columbus in 1882, age 66.

Rebecca Goodman

E-mail or call (513) 768-8361

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