Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Foster, Charles

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FOSTER, Charles, governor of Ohio, b. near Tiffin, Ohio, 12 April, 1828. He was taken by his father in his fifth year to what is now Fostoria, Ohio, then a wilderness. After receiving his education at Norwalk academy he became a successful merchant. He was also interested in politics, but held no office till 1870, when he was chosen to congress as a Republican, and three times re-elected, though his district gave a Democratic majority each time on the general ticket. While he was a member of the committee of ways and means he was active in bringing to light the Sanborn contract frauds, and in the movement that resulted in repeal of the moiety laws. Early in 1874 he visited New Orleans as chairman of an investigating committee, and in his official report he severely critisized the methods of both parties in that state. He was elected governor of Ohio in 1879, and re-elected in 1881, holding office from January, 1880, till January, 1884. His administration was marked by efforts to regulate the sale of intoxicating liquors. The constitution of the state forbade the issuing of licenses, and Gov. Foster, in his messages to the legislature, recommended the submission to the people of amendments that should establish either prohibition, high license, or local option. Before this was done the “Pond bill,” imposing a tax on liquor-dealers and declaring that such tax was not a license, became a law in the spring of 1882. This was declared unconstitutional by the supreme court, but in 1883 the “Scott law,” of a similar character, was passed and sustained by the courts. In the election of this year two constitutional amendments were submitted to the people, as had been advised by Gov. Foster, but both were defeated. The whole agitation was marked by much excitement, especially in the canvass of 1883, In 1891 he became secretary of the treasury.