William Dennison, Jr. - Facts

November 23, 1815 - June 15, 1882

Key facts about William Dennison, Jr. who was the twenty-fourth Governor of Ohio and Postmaster General of the United States from 1864 to 1866.

Portrait of William Dennison

In 1864, William Dennison, Jr. chaired the Republican National Convention in Baltimore, which nominated incumbent President Abraham Lincoln. [Wikimedia Commons]


Full Name:

  • William Dennison, Jr.

Birth Date:

  • November 23, 1815

Birth Location:

  • Cincinnati, Ohio


  • William and Mary (Carter) Dennison


  • Miami University (1835)


  • Lawyer
  • Politician

Career Summary:

  • Governor of Ohio
  • Postmaster General of the United States


  • Anne Eliza Neil

Place of Death:

  • Columbus, Ohio

Date of Death:

  • June 15, 1882

Place of Burial:

  • Greenlawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio


  • William Dennison, Jr. graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1835, at the age of nineteen.
  • William Dennison, Jr. studied law in the Cincinnati office of George H. Pendleton.
  • William Dennison, Jr. was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1840.
  • William Dennison, Jr. moved to Columbus, Ohio in 1840.
  • In 1840, William Dennison, Jr. married Anne Eliza Neil, the daughter of the wealthy, Columbus, businessman William Neil.
  • William Dennison, Jr. was a member of the Whig Party.
  • Franklin and Delaware County voters elected William Dennison, Jr. to the Ohio Senate in 1848.
  • As a member of the Ohio Senate, William Dennison, Jr. championed the repeal of Ohio’s “Black Laws,” which denied African-Americans their civil rights.
  • William Dennison, Jr. was a founding member of the Franklin County Agricultural Society, and was selected as the organization’s first secretary on September 6, 1851.
  • William Dennison, Jr. represented residents of the first ward as a member of the Columbus City Council from 1853 to 1854
  • In 1856, William Dennison, Jr. joined the fledgling Republican Party and served as an Ohio delegate to the organization’s first national convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • On November 01, 1859, William Dennison, Jr. defeated the Democratic Party candidate, Ohio Supreme Court Judge Rufus P. Ranney, by roughly thirteen thousand votes, to become Ohio’s twenty-fourth governor.
  • William Dennison, Jr. served as governor of Ohio from January 9, 1860 to January 13, 1862.
  • William Dennison, Jr. was the first Ohio governor to serve during the American Civil War.
  • As governor of Ohio, William Dennison, Jr. refused the demands of Kentucky and Virginia state authorities to extradite fugitive slaves or to punish Ohioans who violated the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
  • When the American Civil War began, William Dennison, Jr. seized control of Ohio’s railroads and telegraph lines to support Union war efforts.
  • In May of 1861, without authorization from the federal war department, William Dennison, Jr. dispatched Ohio troops into western Virginia, where they guarded the First Wheeling Convention, which was considering the formation of the new state of West Virginia.
  • Under William Dennison, Jr.’s leadership, Ohio raised over 100,000 troops and organized twenty-three three-month regiments and eighty-two three-year regiments for the Union army.
  • Camp Dennison near Cincinnati, Ohio’s first recruitment and training facility for Union volunteers was named in honor of William Dennison, Jr.
  • The Ohio Republican party did not re-nominate William Dennison, Jr. for governor in 1861.
  • In 1864, William Dennison, Jr. chaired the Republican National Convention in Baltimore, which nominated incumbent President Abraham Lincoln.
  • On September 24, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln named William Dennison, Jr. as Postmaster General of the United States.
  • William Dennison, Jr. served as Postmaster General of the United States for nearly two years before resigning because he disagreed with President Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction policies.
  • In 1874 President Ulysses S. Grant appointed William Dennison, Jr. as the first President of the Board of Commissioners for the District of Columbia.
  • William Dennison, Jr. served on the Board of Commissioners for the District of Columbia from 1874 to 1878.
  • William Dennison, Jr. unsuccessfully opposed James A. Garfield in an effort to secure the Republican senatorial nomination in 1880.
  • On June 15, 1882, William Dennison, Jr. died at age 66, at Columbus, Ohio, after prolonged illness.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title William Dennison, Jr. - Facts
  • Date November 23, 1815 - June 15, 1882
  • Author
  • Keywords william dennison, jr., ohio governor
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date March 28, 2023
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update May 5, 2022

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