Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/George Ellis Pugh

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A jurist and statesman, born at Cincinnati, Ohio., 28 November, 1822; died there, 19 July, 1876. He was the son of Lot Pugh and Rachel Anthony. Educated at Miami University, Oxford, O., graduating A.M. in 1843, he was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of Ohio in 1844, and won high repute as a lawyer in Cincinnati, where he practised. He served in the Mexican War, 29 April(1847-1 April, 1848, as captain Co. F., 4th Ohio V. I., and as aide-de-camp to General Lane, being commended for bravery at Atlexco, 19 Oct., 1847. He was a member of the Ohio House of Representatives from Hamilton County, 1848-9; city solicitor, Cincinnati, 1850; attorney-general, State of Ohio, 1852-54; and was elected to the United States Senate from Ohio, 3 Dec., 1855-3 March, 1861. He was the first native of Ohio to sit in that body. His principal services were in the committees on public lands and on the Judiciary. Displaying great ability in discussion of the measures arising from the question of slavery and in the organization of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, he supported Douglass's doctrine of popular sovereignty, and was defeated for re-election to the Senate in 1861 by Chase. He was delegate in 1860 to the Charleston-Baltimore Convention of the Democratic party, acting as chairman of Ohio delegation and supporting the nomination of Douglass. The reply to Yancey on the slavery question was most effective. Yancey blamed the northern delegates for "admitting slavery to be wrong and thus surrendering the very citadel of their argument". Pugh answered: "You mistake us; we will not do so." He defined the position of the northern democrats, setting out that while they were not opposed to the institution of slavery in the states where it existed, they were unalterably opposed to its extension into any free state and any territory without the untrammelled consent of the residents thereof, as ascertained by an appeal to the ballot.

During the Civil War he advocated the exercise of every constitutional power by the Government to preserve the Union. Defeated for Lieutenant-Governor of Ohio in 1863, and for representative to the 29th Congress in the 1st Ohio district in 1864, he was elected a delegate to the constitutional convention of Ohio in 1872, but declined to serve. His most noted legal argument was the appeal in habeas corpus proceedings on behalf of Vallandigham in 1863. The question involved was the power and duty of the court to free Vallandigham held in confinement under a military order. Pugh urged release on the ground that the civil courts of Ohio and of the United States were open and unimpeded in Ohio and that only through proceedings in them, and not by the exercise of military authority, could Vallandigham, a civilian, be lawfully imprisoned. Soon after his marriage to Therèse Chalfant, 22 Nov., 1855 both he and his wife were converted to the Church.

TAYLOR, Ohio in Congress: Appleton's Cyc. Amer. Biog., s. v.

John G. Ewing.