Portrait of Thomas Corwin

In February 1861, Thomas Corwin attempted to appease the South and avert civil war by proposing a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited any federal interference with slavery where it already existed.  [Wikimedia Commons]

Thomas Corwin - Facts

July 29, 1794 - December 18, 1865

Key facts about Thomas Corwin who sponsored the Corwin Amendment in the U.S, House of Representatives in 1861 as an eleventh-hour attempt to avert the American Civil War.

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Full Name:

  • Thomas Corwin

Birth Date:

  • July 29, 1794

Birth Location:

  • Bourbon County, Kentucky

Parents:

  • Matthias and Patience (Halleck) Corwin

Education:

  • Studied law in the Lebanon office of Joshua Collett

Occupation:

  • Lawyer
  • Politician

Career Summary:

  • U.S. Congressman
  • U.S. Senator
  • Governor of Ohio
  • U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
  • U.S. Minister to Mexico

Spouse:

  • Sarah Ross (1822)

Nickname(s):

  • Wagon Boy

Place of Death:

  • Washington, D.C.

Date of Death:

  • December 18, 1865

Place of Burial:

  • Lebanon Cemetery, Lebanon, Ohio

Significance:

  • Thomas Corwin was one of six children of Matthias and Patience (Halleck) Corwin.
  • In 1798, Thomas Corwin moved with his family to a farm near Lebanon, Ohio.
  • Thomas Corwin’s father, served eleven terms in the Ohio House of Representatives, twice serving as speaker.
  • As a teenager, Thomas Corwin drove wagonloads of supplies to General William Henry Harrison’s army during the War of 1812. His exploits earned Corwin the nickname “Wagon Boy,” which stayed with him throughout his life.
  • As a young man, Thomas Corwin studied law in the Lebanon office of Joshua Collett.
  • Thomas Corwin was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1817, whereupon he opened a law practice in his hometown.
  • On November 13, 1822, Thomas Corwin married Lebanon native Sarah Ross, whose family was originally from Chester County, Pennsylvania. The couple had five children during their marriage.
  • Thomas Corwin began his long political career, in 1818, serving as Warren County prosecutor for ten years.
  • Thomas Corwin served in Ohio’s 20th and 21st General Assembly in 1821 and 1822.
  • Thomas Corwin served in the Ohio’s 28th General Assembly in 1829.
  • In 1830, voters of Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District elected Thomas Corwin to the first of five consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Thomas Corwin served in the U.S. House of Representatives from March 4, 1831, until May 30, 1840.
  • During his first tenure in Washington, Thomas Corwin joined the Whig Party.
  • Thomas Corwin resigned his seat in Congress in 1840 after Ohio Whigs nominated him as their candidate for governor.
  • In 1840, Thomas Corwin defeated incumbent Democratic Governor Shannon Wilson by a margin of roughly 53% to 47% of the votes cast.
  • Thomas Corwin’s term as Ohio’s fifteenth governor was largely ineffective because both houses of the legislature were dominated by the opposing Democratic Party.
  • Thomas Corwin stood for reelection in 1842, but voters chose to return former governor Wilson to office in a close race decided by less than one percent of the votes cast.
  • In 1844, the Ohio General Assembly appointed Thomas Corwin to a seat in the United States Senate.
  • Thomas Corwin served six years in the U.S. Senate, from March 4, 1845 to July 20, 1850.
  • During his tenure in the U.S. Senate, Thomas Corwin was noted for his staunch opposition to the Mexican-American War.
  • On July 9, 1850, President Millard Fillmore appointed Thomas Corwin as the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.
  • Thomas Corwin served the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury from July 23, 1850 until Fillmore’s presidency ended on March 6, 1853.
  • Following his stint as the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Thomas Corwin retired from politics and resumed his law practice in Cincinnati, while maintaining his home in Lebanon.
  • Thomas Corwin joined the newly-formed Republican Party during the 1850s
  • In 1858, voters from Ohio’s 7th district elected Thomas Corwin to represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Thomas Corwin served in the U.S. House from March 4, 1859 to March 12, 1861.
  • Thomas Corwin served as chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ select Committee of Thirty-Three.
  • In February 1861, Thomas Corwin attempted to appease the South and avert civil war by proposing a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited any federal interference with slavery where it already existed.
  • The Corwin Amendment was adopted by Congress, but never ratified by the required three-quarters of the state legislatures.
  • Shortly after President Lincoln’s inauguration, Thomas Corwin resigned his Congressional seat to accept an appointment as U.S. Minister to Mexico.
  • In 1864, Thomas Corwin resigned his position as U.S. Minister to Mexico and settled in Washington, D.C. to practice law.
  • Thomas Corwin served as one of President Lincoln’s pallbearers.
  • Thomas Corwin died of a stroke in Washington, D.C. on December 18, 1865, at the age of 69.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Thomas Corwin - Facts
  • Coverage July 29, 1794 - December 18, 1865
  • Author
  • Keywords Thomas Corwin
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 30, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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