Jacob Dolson Cox: Wikis


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Jacob Dolson Cox

In office
January 8, 1866 – January 13, 1868
Lieutenant Andrew R. McBurney
Preceded by Charles Anderson
Succeeded by Rutherford B. Hayes

In office
March 5, 1869 – October 31, 1870
President Ulysses S. Grant
Preceded by Orville Hickman Browning
Succeeded by Columbus Delano

Born October 27, 1828(1828-10-27)
Montreal, Canada
Died August 4, 1900 (aged 71)
Gloucester, Massachusetts
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Helen Clarissa Finney Cox
Alma mater Oberlin College
Profession Lawyer
Military service
Service/branch Union Army
Years of service 1861 - 1866
Rank Major General
Battles/wars American Civil War

Jacob Dolson Cox, (Jr.) (October 27, 1828 – August 4, 1900) was a lawyer, a Union Army general during the American Civil War, and later a Republican politician from Ohio. He served as the 28th Governor of Ohio and as United States Secretary of the Interior.


Early years

Cox was born in Montreal, Canada, to American parents, Jacob Dolson Cox and Thedia Redelia Kenyon Cox. The elder Cox was a well-known contractor in New York City, living temporarily in Montreal while he superintended the roof construction of the Church of Notre Dame. He returned with his parents to New York City a year later. His early education included private readings with a Columbia College student. His practical education began at the age of 14 as he worked in a law office as a clerk, and at 16 learned bookkeeping at a brokerage firm. Although as a youth he considered a career at sea, his parents joined the Congregational Church and he decided to study for the ministry. He was influenced by the Reverends Samuel D. Cochran and Charles Grandison Finney, leadersof Oberlin College, which he attended and with which he maintained a lifelong association, including service as a trustee from 1876 to 1900.

At Oberlin, Cox married the eldest daughter of college president Finney in 1849; at age 19, Helen Clarissa Finney was already a widow with a small son. The couple lived with the president, but Cox and his father-in-law became estranged due to theological disputes. He graduated from Oberlin with a degree in theology in 1850[1] or 1851.[2] He became superintendent of the Warren, Ohio, school system as he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1853. As a strong abolitionist, in 1855 he helped to organize the Republican Party in Ohio and stumped for its candidates in counties surrounding Warren. He entered the Ohio State Senate in 1860[3] and formed a political alliance with Senator and future President James A. Garfield, and with Governor Salmon P. Chase. While in the legislature, he accepted a commission with the Ohio Militia as a brigadier general and spent much of the winter of 1860–61 studying military science.[4]

Civil War

At the start of the war, Cox was in poor health and was the father of six children (of the eight he and Helen eventually had), but he chose to enter Federal service as an Ohio volunteer.[3] His first assignment was to command a recruiting camp near Columbus, and then the Kanawha Brigade of the Department of the Ohio. His brigade joined the Department of Western Virginia and fought successfully in the early Kanawha Valley campaign under major general George B. McClellan. In 1862 the brigade moved to Washington, D.C., and was attached to John Pope's Army of Virginia, but did not see action at the Second Battle of Bull Run with the rest of the army. At the beginning of the Maryland Campaign, Cox's brigade became the Kanawha Division of the IX Corps of the Army of the Potomac. When corps commander Maj. Gen. Jesse L. Reno was killed at the Battle of South Mountain, Cox assumed command of the IX Corps. He suggested to Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, formally the commander of IX Corps, but who was commanding a two-corps "wing" of the Army, that he be allowed to return to division command, which was more in keeping with his level of military expertise. Burnside refused the suggestion, but at the Battle of Antietam, kept Cox under his supervision. The poor showing of the corps around "Burnside Bridge" at Antietam is generally attributed to Burnside, not Cox.

After Antietam, Cox was appointed major general to rank from October 6, 1862, but this appointment expired the following March when the United States Senate felt that there were too many generals of this rank already serving. He was later renominated and confirmed on December 7, 1864. Most of 1863 was quiet for Cox, who was assigned to command the District of Ohio, and later the District of Michigan, in the Department of the Ohio.

During the Atlanta, Franklin-Nashville, and Carolinas campaigns of 1864–65, Cox commanded the 3rd Division of the XXIII Corps of the Army of the Ohio, under Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield. He is widely credited with saving the center of the Union battle line at the Battle of Franklin in November 1864. Cox led the 3rd Division at the battle of Wilmington in North Carolina then took command of the District of Beaufort and a Provisional Corps which he led at the battle of Wyse Fork before officially being designated the XXIII Corps.

Governor of Ohio

Before mustering out of the Army on January 1, 1866, Cox was elected governor of Ohio. He served from 1866 to 1867, but his moderate views on African-American suffrage and his endorsement of President Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction policy caused the Ohio Republicans to reject him for renomination. He then moved to Cincinnati to practice law.

Secretary of the Interior

Cox was appointed Secretary of the Interior by Ulysses S. Grant upon his inauguration in March 1869, serving until November 1870. He was an effective advocate of civil service reform and introduced a merit system for appointees. However, after President Grant failed to back him up against party politicians, who thrived on the corrupt patronage system then rampant in the Interior Department, Cox resigned. Grant remarked afterwards, probably unfairly, "The trouble was that General Cox thought the Interior Department was the whole government, and that Cox was the Interior Department."[5]

Later years

After leaving the Interior Department, Cox was considered as a U.S. Senate candidate in the 1872 election, but the Ohio legislature selected a less conservative candidate. From 1873 to 1878 he served as president and as receiver of the Toledo and Wabash Railroad. He was elected as a reform Republican to the United States House of Representatives from Toledo in 1876. He served a single term from 1877 to 1879 and declined to be renominated. He then returned to Cincinnati, serving as Dean of the Cincinnati Law School from 1881 to 1897 and as President of the University of Cincinnati from 1885 to 1889. After retiring from his position as dean, President William McKinley urged him to accept the position of U.S. ambassador to Spain, but Cox declined.

During his later years, Cox was a prolific author. His works include Atlanta (published in 1882); The March to the Sea: Franklin and Nashville (1882); The Second Battle of Bull Run (1882); The Battle of Franklin, Tennessee (1897); and Military Reminiscences of the Civil War (1900).

Cox died on summer vacation at Gloucester, Massachusetts. He is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati.

See also


  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders, Louisiana State University Press, 1964, ISBN 0-8071-0822-7.
  • Biography at Ohio Historical Society


  1. ^ Ohio Historical Society web site.
  2. ^ Eicher, p. 187; Warner, p. 97.
  3. ^ a b Ohio Historical Society.
  4. ^ Ohio Historical Society. Military records quoted by Eicher and Warner show his appointment to the militia as of April 23, 1861, a couple of weeks following Fort Sumter. His commission as a brigadier general of U.S. Volunteers was May 17, 1861.
  5. ^ Warner, p. 98.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Anderson
Governor of Ohio
Succeeded by
Rutherford B. Hayes
Preceded by
Orville Hickman Browning
United States Secretary of the Interior
Succeeded by
Columbus Delano

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JACOB DOLSON COX (1828-1900), American general, political leader and educationalist, was born on the 27th of October 1828 in Montreal, Canada. His father, a shipbuilder of German descent (Koch),and his mother,a descendant of William Brewster, were natives of New York City, where the boy grew up, studying law in an office in 1842-1844, and working in a broker's office in 1844-1846, and where, under the influence of Charles G. Finney (1792-1875), whose daughter he afterwards married, he prepared himself for the ministry. He graduated at Oberlin College in 1851, having in the meantime given up his theological studies in rebellion at Finney's dogmatism. In1851-1853he was superintendent of schools at Warren, Ohio; in 1853 was admitted to the Ohio bar, being at that time an anti-slavery Whig; and in 1859 was elected to the state senate, in which with Garfield and James Monroe (1821-1898) he formed the "Radical Triumvirate," Cox himself presenting a petition for a personal liberty law and urging woman's rights, especially larger property rights to married women. Appointed by Governor Dennison one of three brigadiersgeneral of militia in 1860, he eagerly undertook the study of tactics, strategy and military history. He rendered great assistance in raising troops for the Union service in 1861, enlisted himself in spite of poor health and a family of six small children, and in April was commissioned a brigadier-general, U.S.V. He took part in the West Virginia campaign of 1861, served in the Kanawha region, in supreme command after Rosecrans's relief in the spring, until August 1862, when his troops were ordered to join Burnside's 9th Corps in Virginia. After the death at his side of General Reno in the battle of South Mountain, and during Antietam, Cox commanded the corps, and at the close of the campaign (6th Oct. 1862) he was appointed major-general, U.S.V., but the appointment was not confirmed. In April - December 1863 he was head of the department of Ohio. In 1864 he took part in the Atlanta campaign under Sherman, as a divisional and subsequently corps-commander: at the battle of Franklin he commanded the 2 3 rd Corps, and he served at Nashville also. He led an expedition following Sherman into the Carolinas and fought two successful actions with Bragg at Kinston, N.C. He was governor of Ohio in 1866-1867, and as such advocated the colonization of the freedmen in a restricted area, and sympathized with President Johnson's programme of Reconstruction and worked for a compromise between Johnson and his opponents, although he finally deserted Johnson. In 1868 he was chairman of the Republican national convention which nominated Grant. He was secretary of the interior in 1869-1870; opposed the confirmation of the treaty for the annexation of Santo Domingo, negotiated by O. E. Babcock and urged by President Grant; introduced the merit system in his department, and resigned in October 1870 because of pressure put on him by politicians piqued at his prohibition of campaign levies on his clerks, and because of the interference of Grant in favour of William McGarrahan's attempt by legal proceedings to obtain from Cox a patent to certain California mining lands. He took up legal practice in Cincinnati, became president in 1873, and until 1877 was receiver, of the Toledo & Wabash & Western. In1877-1879he was a representative in Congress. From 1881 to 1897 he was dean of the Cincinnati law school, and from 1885 to 1889 president of the University of Cincinnati. He died at Magnolia, Massachusetts, on the 4th of August 1900. A successful lawyer, and in his later years a prominent microscopist, who won a gold medal of honour for microphotography at the Antwerp Exposition of 1891, he is best known as one of the greatest "civilian" generals of the Civil War, and, with the possible exception of J. C. Ropes, the highest American authority of his time on military history, particularly the history of the American Civil War. He wrote Atlanta (New York, 1882) and The March to the Sea, Franklin and Nashville (New York, 1882), both in the series Campaigns of the Civil War; The Second Battle of Bull Run, as Connected with the Fitz-John Porter Case (Cincinnati, 1882); and the valuable Military Reminiscences of the Civil War (2 vols., New York, 1900) published posthumously.

See J. R. Ewing, Public Services of Jacob Dolson Cox (Washington, 1902), a Johns Hopkins University dissertation; and W. C. Cochran, "Early Life and Military Services of General Jacob Dolson Cox," in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 58 (Oberlin, Ohio, 1901).

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