A paper read at the annual meeting of the Western Reserve and Northern Ohio

Historical Society, November, 1881, by its President,



NOT long before the President left Mentor for Washington, he is reported to have said to a New York politician that Ohio had about all the honors to which she is entitled.  The response was “that she had about all the other States could stand.”  This sentiment appears to be a general one, not in an offensive sense, but as a widespread opinion, honestly entertained.  Whitelaw Reid, in a recent address at Xenia, Ohio, showed conclusively from the blue books, that as to the number of citizens from this State who have held Federal offices, they are not in excess of her share, and are not proportionally equal to those from Massachusetts and Virginia.  If it be a fact that our representative men have attained a leading influence in national affairs, it cannot be because of numbers alone, and it should be remembered that they have been raised to place and power, principally by the suffrages of the whole people.  If their influence at the Capital is overshadowing, and it is exercised for the good of the nation, there should not be, and probably is not any feeling of jealousy.

If our representative men are prominent, it may be a source of honorable State pride; for while great men do not make a great people, they are signs of a solid constituency.  Native genius is about equally distributed in all nations, even in barbarous ones; but it goes to waste wherever the surroundings are not propitious.  Intellectual strength, without cultivation, is as likely to be a curse as a blessing.  If it has cultivation and good moral qualities, it cannot even then become prominent without great occasions; and in republican communities, without the backing of a people equal to the emergency.  Leaders are not the real power, only its exponents.  Storm signals are not the storm, they are only indications.  History clearly shows that in free or partly free communities, great men rise no higher than the forces behind them.  It also informs us that those nations which have been the most powerful, have become so by a mixture of races.  Cross-breeding, by a law of nature fortifies the stock physically, on which mental development greatly depends

Why the mingling of certain races, like the Teutonic and the Celtic, produces an improved stock, while the same process between Caucasian and Negro or the North American Indian results in depreciation and decay, is one of those numerous mysteries, as yet unfathomed by man.  Also, why the greatest unmixed races, such as Mongolian, Tartar, Japanese, Chinese, Hindoo, Arab and Hebrew, soon reach the limits of their improvement.  A portion of the Aryan family migrated northwestwardly, mingling with the Caucasian, reaching Europe by the north of the Black sea.  They acquired strength as they spread out on the waters of the Danube, the Elbe and the Rhine, becoming powerful and even dominant under the general name of Goths, having a language from which the Saxon and English were derived.  This might be attributable to the medium climate between the Baltic and the Mediterranean, if other people had not enjoyed as temperate climes, and had not gone on increasing, either in mental, physical or political power.  When the Celtic and Scandinavian people had pushed forward to the Western sea, and met in the British Islands, they were for a long time unable to go farther, and thus had the best of opportunities to coalesce. The Atlantic was finally overcome, and their propensity to migrate was gratified by crossing the

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sea to North America.  This great stream of humanity kept the line of a temperate climate, the central channel of which, as it crossed the continent, occupied the State of Ohio.

In King John’s time, an English people existed who exhibited their power through the barons at Runymede.  Cromwell was endowed with a mental capacity equal to the greatest of men; hut he would not have appeared in history if there had not been a constituency of Roundheads, full of strength, determined upon the overthrow of a licentious king and his nobility.  The English stock here proved its capabilities on a larger scale than in the days of King John.

Washington would not have been known in history if the people of the American colonies had not been stalwarts in every sense, who selected him as their representative.  In these colonies the process of cross-breeding among races had then been carried further than in England, and is now a prime factor in the strength of the United States

I propose to apply the same rule to the first settlers of Ohio, and to show that if she now holds a high place in this nation, it is not an accident, but can be traced to manifest natural causes, and those not alone climate, soil and geographical position

There were five centres of settlement in Ohio by people of somewhat different stock; four of them by people whose social training was more diverse than their stock.  Beginning at the southwest, the Symmes’ Purchase, between the Great and Little Miami rivers, was settled principally from New Jersey, with Cincinnati as the centre.  Next, on the east, between the Little Miami and the Scioto rivers, lay the Virginia Military District, reserved by that State to satisfy the bounty land warrants, issued to her troops in the war of the Revolution.  It was like a projection of Virginia (except as to slavery), which then included Kentucky, across the Ohio river to the centre of the new State.  Chillicothe was the principal town of this tract.  The pioneers came on through the passes of the Blue Ridge, their ancestors being principally English and Episcopal, but claiming without much historical show, a leaven of Norman and Cavalier.  With Marietta as a centre, the Ohio Company was recruited from Massachusetts and other New England States.  In colonial times, their ancestors also came from England, but of opponents to the Church of England, in search of religious freedom.  One hundred and fifty years had wrought great differences between them and the Virginians.  Next, west of the Pennsylvania line, lies the “seven ranges” of townships, extending north of the Ohio to the completion of the fortieth parallel of latitude, being the first of the surveys and sales of the public land of the United States.  Most of the early settlers here came over the Alleghenies from the State of Pennsylvania; some of Quaker stock, introduced by William Penn; and more of German origin, in later days.  North of them to Lake Erie lay the Western Reserve, owned and settled by inhabitants of Connecticut, with Cleveland as the prospective capital of a new State, to be called “New Connecticut.”  This tract extended west from Pennsylvania one hundred and twenty miles.  West of the seven ranges to the Scioto, and south of Wayne’s treaty line, is the United States Military Reservation, where the first inhabitants were from all the States, and held bounty warrants issued under the resolution of 1776.  They were not homogeneous enough to give this tract any social peculiarity. The north-western part of the State was, until the war of 1812, a wilderness occupied by Indians.

The New Jersey people brought a tincture of Swedish and Hollander blood, mingled with the English.  Those from Pennsylvania had a slight mixture of Irish, Scotch and Scotch-Irish.  The settlers of new communities leave their impress upon the locality long after they are gone.  in Ohio these five centres were quite isolated, on account of broad intermediate spaces of dense unsettled forests, through which, if there were roads or trails, they were nearly impracticable.  They all had occupation enough to secure the bread of life, clear away the trees around their cabins, and defend themselves against their red enemies.  Though of one American family, their environment delayed their full social fusion at least one generation.  There differences were principally those of education, and including their religious cultus, were so thoroughly inbred that they stood in the relation of different races, but without animosity.  A large part of them had

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taken part in the war of the Revolution, or they would have been lacking in courage to plant themselves on a frontier that was virtually in a state of war until the peace of 1815.  The expeditions of Harmar in 1790, St. Clair in 1791 and Wayne in 1792—94 embraced many of them as volunteers.  Full one thousand whites and more Indians were killed on Ohio soil before peace was assured.  Nearly every man had a rifle and its accoutrements, with which he could bring down a squirrel or turkey from the tallest tree, and a deer, a bear or an Indian at sixty rods.  They had not felt the weakening effect of idleness or luxury.  Their food was coarse, but solid and abundant.  In spite of the malaria of new countries the number of robust, active men fit for military duty was proportionally large.  As hunters of wild animals or wild men, they were the full equals of the latter in endurance and the art of success.  They were fully capable of defending themselves.  The dishonorable surrender at Detroit, August 16, 1812, became known on the Western Reserve, where the settlements were wholly unguarded, between the 20th and 22d; probably at Washington not before the 25th or 26th.  General Wadsworth, commanding the Fourth Division of the State Militia, ordered the Third Brigade (General Perkins) to rendezvous at Cleveland.  On the 23d, the men of the Lake counties were on their way, each with his rifle, well-filled powder-horn, bullet-pouch and butcher-knife, in squads or companies, on foot or mounted; and on the 26th, one battalion moved westward.  By the 5th of September, before any orders from Washington reached them, a post was established on the Huron river, near Milan, in Huron county.  Nothing but these improvised troops lay between General Brock’s army at Detroit and the settled portions of the State.  The frontier line of settlements at that time turned south, away from Lake Erie at Huron, passing by Mansfield and Delaware to Urbana, in Champaign county.

The war of 1812 brought nearly all our able-bodied men into the field, which had the effect to hasten a closer relationship between the settlements. In 1810, there were 230,760 inhabitants in Ohio.  The vote for Governor in 1812 was 19,752.  Probably the enrolled militia was larger than the vote.  It is estimated that for different terms of service 20,000 were in the field.  War has many compensations for its many evils, especially a war of defense or for a principle in which the people are substantially unanimous.  Few citizens volunteer for military service and go creditably through a campaign, its exposures and dangers, whose character is not strengthened.  They acquire sturdiness, self-respect and courage.  These qualities in individuals affect the aggregate stamina of communities and of states.  The volunteers in 1812—14, with a variety of thought, manners and dress, engaged in the common cause of public defense, coalesced in a social sense, which led to a better understanding and to intermarriages. 


At that time very few native-born citizens were of an age to participate in affairs.  Tiffin, the first governor, was a native of England.  Senator, and then Governor Worthington was born in Virginia.  Return Jonathan Meigs, Jr., senator, governor and postmaster-general, in Connecticut; Jeremiah Morrow, sole member of Congress from 1803 to 1813, then senator and governor, in Pennsylvania; General Harrison, afterwards president of the United States, in Virginia; General McArthur in New York; and General Cass in New Hampshire.  Nearly all the generals of the war of the Rebellion in command of Ohio troops were natives.

When the State had recovered from the sacrifices of the war of 1812, the native element showed itself in public affairs.  The Legislature, reflecting the character of its constituents, took high ground in favor of free schools, canals, roads and official integrity.  To this day no disgraceful scandal or corruption has been fastened upon it, or the executive of the State.  Two generations succeeded, their blood more completely mingled, their habits more thoroughly assimilated, their intelligence increased, public communication improved, and in 1861 wealth had not made the people effeminate.  Such are the processes which, by long and steady operation in one direction, brought into existence the constituency which rose up to sustain the Federal government.  Three hundred thousand men were found capable of filling all positions, high and low, especially that of efficient soldiers in the ranks.  For commanders, they had Gilmore, Cox, Stanley, Steedman, Sill, Hazen, McCook, Rosecrans, McDowell, McPherson, Sheridan, Sherman and Grant, all raised, and except three, born on Ohio soil, and educated at West

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Point.  Was it fortuitous?  I think I perceive sufficient causes working toward this result, not for one generation, or for a century, but reaching back to the English people of two or three centuries since.  Nations, races and families decay, and it is possible it may be so here; but wherever the broad political foundations laid  in Ohio are taken as a pattern, and there is a general mixture of educated Anglo Saxon stocks, the period of decline will be far in the distance.

On the 4th of March, 1881, three men of fine presence advanced on the platform at the east portico of the Federal capitol.  On their right is a solid, square-built man of an impressive appearance, the Chief-Justice of the United States [Morrison R. Waite].  On his left stood a tall, well-rounded, large, self-possessed personage, with a head large even in proportion to the body who is President of the United States [James A. Garfield].  At his left hand was an equally tall, robust and graceful gentleman, the retiring president [Rutherford B. Hayes].  Near by was a tall, not especially graceful figure, with the eye of an eagle, who is the general commanding the army [William Tecumseh Sherman].  A short, square, active officer, the Marshal Ney of America, is there as lieutenant-general [Philip Sheridan].  Another tall, slender, self-poised man, of not ungraceful presence, was the focus of many thousands of eyes.  He had carried the finances of the nation in his mind and in his heart, four years as secretary of the treasury, the peer of Hamilton and Chase [John Sherman].  Of these six, five were natives of Ohio, and the other a life-long resident.  Did this group of national characters from one State stand there by accident?  Was it not the result of a long train of agencies, which, by force of natural selection, brought them to the front on that occasion?




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