Corwin, Thomas (Senator)

Born: 1794-07-29 Bourbon County, Kentucky

Died: 1865-12-18 Washington, D.C.

Born into a political family, Thomas Corwin moved to Lebanon, Ohio, in 1798, where he was admitted to the bar in 1817. The following year, he became prosecuting attorney for Warren County. In the 1820s, Corwin won election to the Ohio House of Representatives and served three one-year terms. In 1822, he married Sarah Ross, with whom he had five children. Corwin secured a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Whig in 1829 and remained there until his resignation in 1840. That year, he won the governorship of Ohio from Wilson Shannon but subsequently lost to Shannon in 1842. The Whig-dominated Ohio General Assembly appointed Corwin to the U.S. Senate in 1844, where he remained until 1850. He became the leading opponent of the Mexican War but remained moderate in regard to slavery. Millard Fillmore appointed Corwin secretary of the treasury following Zachary Taylor's death in 1850, and he remained in that office for the duration of Fillmore's presidency. He supported the Republican Party during the 1856 presidential election and returned to the House of Representatives as a member of that party in 1858. However, he proved to be a highly conservative Republican and largely rejected the party's anti-slavery focus. He favored compromising with the South during the secession crisis and endorsed a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to own slaves. Following Abraham Lincoln's election, the new president appointed Corwin minister to Mexico, where he worked to prevent Mexican involvement in the Civil War. Corwin returned to Washington in 1864 and died there the following year.

Frederick J. Blue, "Corwin, Thomas," American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 5:549-50.