1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Corwin, Thomas

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

CORWIN, THOMAS (1794-1865), American statesman and orator, was born in Bourbon county, Kentucky, on the 29th of July 1794. In 1798 his father, Matthias Corwin (1761-1829), removed to what later became Lebanon, Ohio, where the son worked on a farm, read much, and in 1817 was admitted to the bar. As an advocate he was at once successful, but after 1831 be devoted his attention chiefly to politics, identifying himself first with the Whig and after 1858 with the Republican party. He was a member of the lower house of the Ohio legislature in 1821, 1822 and 1829, and of the national House of Representatives from 1831 to 1840; was governor of Ohio in 1840-1842; served in the United States Senate from 1845 to 1850; was secretary of the treasury in the cabinet of President Fillmore in 1850-1853; was again a member of the national House of Representatives from 1859 to 1861; and from 1861 to 1864 was minister of the United States to Mexico — a position of peculiar difficulty at that time. As a legislator he spoke seldom, but always with great ability, his most famous speech being that of the 11th of February 1847 opposing the Mexican War. In 1860 he was chairman of the House “Committee of Thirty-three,” consisting of one member from each state, and appointed to consider the condition of the nation and, if possible, to devise some scheme for reconciling the North and the South. He is remembered chiefly as an orator. Many anecdotes have been told to illustrate his kindliness, his inimitable humour, and his remarkable eloquence. He died at Washington, D.C., on the 18th of December 1865.

See the Life and Speeches of Thomas Corwin (Cincinnati, 1896), edited by Josiah Morrow; and an excellent character sketch, Thomas Corwin (Cincinnati, 1881), by A. P. Russell.