Jacob D. Cox

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Jacob Dolson Cox, Jr.
Jacob D. Cox Ohio.jpg
Former U.S. Representative from Ohio's 6th Congressional District
From: March 4, 1877 – March 3, 1879
Predecessor Frank H. Hurd
Successor William D. Hill
10th United States Secretary of the Interior
From: March 5, 1869 – October 31, 1870
President Ulysses S. Grant
Predecessor Orville H. Browning
Successor Columbus Delano
Former Governor of Ohio
From: January 8, 1866 – January 13, 1868
Lieutenant Andrew McBurney
Predecessor Charles Anderson
Successor Rutherford B. Hayes
Former State Senator from Ohio's 23rd District
From: January 2, 1860 – January 5, 1862
Predecessor Robert W. Tayler, Sr.
Successor Samuel Quinby
Party Republican
Spouse(s) Helen Finney
Religion Congregationalist[1]
Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch Union Army
Service Years 1861–1866
Rank Major General
Commands • Kanawha Division
• XXIII Corps
Battles/wars American Civil War
• Battle of South Mountain
• Battle of Antietam
• Atlanta Campaign
• Battle of Utoy Creek
• Battle of Franklin
• Battle of Nashville
• Battle of Wilmington
• Battle of Wyse Fork

Jacob Dolson Cox, Jr. (October 27, 1828 – August 4, 1900), was a Republican from Ohio who served as a state senator, U.S. representative, and governor, in addition to being Secretary of the Interior under the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant. Although an abolitionist initially aligned with Whigs and Free Soils,[2] Cox later broke with most Republicans in his support for Andrew Johnson and opposition towards black suffrage.

Many sources attempt to paint Cox as a supposed "conservative,"[3] even though the Ohio RINO would later join reformers in the Liberal Republican Party revolt from the national GOP. Cox's later tenure in the House during the post-Reconstruction era was quite liberal, with the DW-NOMINATE system ranking him with an ideology score of "0.195" and dubbing him "More liberal than 94% of Republicans in the 45th House."[4]

Ohio State Senate

In 1858, Cox was elected to the upper body of the Ohio state legislature.[2] Allying with senators James A. Garfield (future president) and James Monroe, Cox helped promote bills that benefited the Union in alliance with Governor William Dennison.[5]

American Civil War

Following the secession of Southern states and the outbreak of the American Civil War, Cox enlisted in the Union Army, joining the Ohio Volunteers as a brigadier general.[2] Under the leadership of General George B. McClellan, he participated in the campaigns of western Virginia and led the Kanawha Division of troops in advancing towards Charleston, South Carolina.[2]

In spite of setbacks during battles with Confederate troops, Cox's division managed to seize Turner's Gap from Confederate soldiers, who withdrew from the location.[2] Following the Battle of Antietam, the subsequent year of 1863 was considered "relatively quiet" for Cox. In 1864, however, Cox returned to active leadership in battles and particularly helped lead a blockade of ports used by the Confederacy.[2]

Governor of Ohio

In 1865, Cox ran for Governor of Ohio as a Republican, facing Democrat opponent and ambassador George W. Morgan. He managed to win the general election by seven percentage points,[6] and proceeded to serve for a two-year term. During the campaign, Cox publicly expressed support for a proposal by President Andrew Johnson that would "colonize" blacks in a separate territory to supposedly "work out their own salvation."[7] He appealed to sentiments against racial equality, even threatening former ally James Garfield, a Radical Republican, over the issue.

Under Cox's tenure, post-Civil War matters were handled.[8] Despite previously being am abolitionist, Cox at this point resented efforts to ensure equality for blacks and opposed suffrage measures out of the belief that whites and blacks were incapable of living together as equals.[2]

Black suffrage was an intensely debated issue in Ohio, and despite adamant efforts from loyal Republicans, a referenda in support of such failed to pass in the state due to a small faction of nominal Republicans siding with Democrats against it.[7]

Cox's anti-civil rights stance was unpopular among most Ohio Republicans, proved unable to be re-elected the following gubernatorial election cycle. He was succeeded by Radical Republican and future president Rutherford Hayes.

Liberal Republican Party

By 1872, Cox and like-minded supporters of civil service reform deeply resented the corruption surrounding the Grant Administration, which fiercely worked to safeguard the constitutional rights of Southern blacks against Ku Klux Klan violence. He supported leftist Horace Greeley for president in joining the Liberal Republican Party,[9] which emphasized civil service reform, less protective tariffs, states' rights, and opposition to President Grant's policies.

After Greeley, who Democrats also nominated, was easily defeated by Grant, the Liberal Republican Party disbanded soon afterwards. The civil service reform advocacy held by Liberal Republicans would be passed on later in the Hayes presidency to the GOP's moderate Half-Breed faction, who were more moderate on the issue.


  1. Searles, Harry (May 19, 2011). Jacob Dolson Cox (October 27, 1828 – August 4, 1900). Ohio Civil War Central. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Jacob D. Cox. American Battlefield Trust. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  3. In Columbus, former Union General Jacob D. Cox is inaugurated as the twenty-eighth governor of Ohio. House Divided. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  4. COX, Jacob Dolson (1828-1900). Voteview. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  5. Jacob D. Cox. Ohio History Central. Retrieved December 12, 2021.
  6. OH Governor Race - Oct 10, 1865. Our Campaigns. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Foner, Eric (1988). Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863, p. 222–23. Harper and Row, Publishers.
  8. Gov. Jacob Dolson Cox. National Governors Association. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  9. Jacob D. Cox. Ohio Historical Society. Retrieved December 20, 2021.

Further reading

External links

  • Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress