Portrait of Samuel Medary

Throughout the Civil War, Samuel Medary was an outspoken opponent of President Abraham Lincoln’s administration. He was especially critical of what he considered Lincoln’s constitutional abuses of suspending habeas corpus, implementing conscription, and imposing the first federal income tax during the war. [Wikimedia Commons]

Samuel Medary - Facts

February 25, 1801 - November 7, 1864

Key facts about Samuel Medary, an Ohio newspaper publisher during the American Civil War who was a nationally prominent voice for Peace Democrats.

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Full Name:

  • Samuel Medary

Birth Date:

  • February 25, 1801

Birth Location:

  • Montgomery County Pennsylvania

Parents:

  • Jacob Medary (mother’s name is unknown)

Education:

  • Norristown Academy, Norristown, Pennsylvania

Occupation:

  • Newspaper editor
  • Teacher
  • Politician

Career Summary:

  • Owner and editor of the Ohio Statesman
  • Owner and editor of the Crisis

Spouse:

  • Eliza Scott (1823)

Place of Death:

  • Columbus, Ohio

Date of Death:

  • November 7, 1864

Place of Burial:

  • Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus

Significance:

  • Samuel Medary’s father, Jacob Medary, was a tenant farmer of Welsh descent.
  • Samuel Medary’s family was part of the Society of Friends and Medary received his first schooling at the Quaker Free School in Montgomery Square.
  • Samuel Medary attended the Norristown Academy in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
  • Samuel Medary began a long and storied newspaper career at the age of sixteen when newspaper publisher David Sower, printed several of Medary’s articles and poems in the Norristown Herald.
  • Samuel Medary spent much of his early adulthood as a schoolteacher.
  • In 1822, Samuel Medary moved near present-day Roanoke, Virginia, where he met Eliza Scott, and the couple married on September 29, 1823, in Washington, D.C.
  • Samuel Medary lived in Virginia for two years. During that period he developed a tolerance (or perhaps even an affinity) for the institution of slavery that would influence his writing for the rest of his life.
  • In 1825, Samuel Medary moved west, settling in the tiny village of Bethel, Ohio, near Cincinnati.
  • In 1828, Samuel Medary resigned his teaching position and partnered with Thomas Morris to begin publishing the Ohio Sun, a local newspaper they founded to support Andrew Jackson’s candidacy for the American presidency. A few months later, Medary and Morris moved their publication to the nearby, larger town of Batavia.
  • In 1834, local voters elected Samuel Medary to a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.
  • In 1836, local voters elected Samuel Medary to the Ohio Senate.
  • While serving in the Senate, Samuel Medary moved his growing family to Columbus in 1835.
  • In 1835, Samuel Medary purchased the Columbus Hemisphere from his brother and changed the name of the newspaper to the Ohio Statesman.
  • Under Samuel Medary’s leadership, the Ohio Statesman became an influential voice for the Ohio Democratic Party.
  • As chairman of the Ohio delegation to the Democratic National Convention in 1844, Samuel Medary nominated James K. Polk for the U.S. presidency.
  • In 1852, Samuel Medary supported Franklin Pierce for the presidency. After Pierce won the election, he offered Medary the post of ambassador to Chile, but Medary declined.
  • At the 1856 Democratic National Convention, Samuel Medary nominated Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas for the presidency.
  • In 1857, President James Buchanan appointed Samuel Medary as the territorial governor of Minnesota.
  • Samuel Medary served as territorial governor of Minnesota from April 23, 1857 to May 24, 1858.
  • In 1858, President James Buchanan appointed Samuel Medary as the territorial governor of Kansas.
  • Samuel Medary served as the territorial governor of Kansas from December 22, 1858 to December 17, 1860.
  • Samuel Medary helped found and manage several railroads in Ohio, including the Franklin and Ohio River Company, the Columbus and Lake Erie Railroad, the Central Ohio Railroad Company, and the Columbus and Xenia Railroad.
  • Samuel Medary helped establish Columbus’s first utility firm, the Columbus Gas Light and Coke Company.
  • Samuel Medary financially backed Samuel Morse’s development of the telegraph.
  • On the civic front, Samuel Medary helped create Ohio’s state agricultural board and he served as its first secretary. He was also the first treasurer and president of the Ohio State Fair.
  • Samuel Medary helped design and direct the construction of Ohio’s state capitol building.
  • In 1848, Samuel Medary began printing a weekly paper called the New Constitution for the purpose of promoting a constitutional convention for Ohio.
  • During his years as owner and editor of the Ohio Statesman, Samuel Medary was a staunch supporter of states’ rights, manifest destiny, and popular sovereignty. He was also a vocal opponent of what he considered to be abolitionist meddling with Southern property rights.
  • Samuel Medary opposed the repeal of notorious Black Laws in Ohio that denied equal rights to citizens of African descent.
  • On January 31, 1861, Samuel Medary began publishing another weekly named the Crisis.
  • After the Civil War began, Samuel Medary’s newspaper, the Crisis, quickly became a leading voice for Peace Democrats in Ohio and throughout the Midwest.
  • Samuel Medary saw the Civil War as a product of abolitionist extremism and the refusal of Radical Republicans to embrace compromise to settle sectional differences over the expansion of slavery.
  • Throughout the Civil War, Samuel Medary was an outspoken opponent of President Abraham Lincoln’s administration. He was especially critical of what he considered Lincoln’s constitutional abuses of suspending habeas corpus, implementing conscription, and imposing the first federal income tax during the war.
  • Samuel Medary’s denunciations of President Lincoln and the Civil War became so strident that postmasters in West Virginia, Kansas, and Missouri halted circulation of his newspaper, the Crisis, in those states.
  • On the night of March 5, 1863, a mob, led by members of the 2nd Ohio Cavalry, stationed at Camp Chase in Columbus, sacked the office of Samuel Medary’s newspaper, the Crisis, while Medary was in Cincinnati. A week later Columbus firefighters extinguished an attempt to burn down the newspaper’s offices.
  • Samuel Medary was a strong supporter of exiled Clement Vallandigham’s unsuccessful Ohio gubernatorial bid.
  • On May 20, 1864, U.S. marshals presented Samuel Medary with a warrant for his arrest and immediately transported him to Cincinnati where he was arraigned before Judge Humphrey Leavitt in U.S. district court.
  • In 1864, a federal grand jury indicted Samuel Medary and eight other Peace Democrats on three counts of armed conspiracy against the Union. The government claimed that the nine conspirators had planned and participated in an October 1863 plot to free over 3,600 Confederate prisoners from three locations in Ohio.
  • Samuel Medary was scheduled to present the keynote address at a Peace Democrat rally in Columbus on the evening of August 23, 1864 when he was overcome by illness, from which he did not recover.
  • After a prolonged malaise, Samuel Medary died on November 7, 1864, the night before President Lincoln was reelected.
  • Samuel Medary was interred at Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus.
  • Samuel Medary’s death prevented him from having his day in court, but the case against his alleged co-conspirators dragged on for nearly two more years. Finally, in April 1866, the government dropped all charges against the defendants.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Samuel Medary - Facts
  • Coverage February 25, 1801 - November 7, 1864
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date August 2, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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