Giddings, Joshua R.

Born: 1795-10-06 Tioga Point, Pennsylvania

Died: 1864-05-27 Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Giddings moved with his parents to Canandaigua, New York in 1795. He attended common schools, and moved again with his parents to Ashtabula County, Ohio, in 1806, where he completed preparatory studies. Giddings served in the War of 1812. He taught school and studied law. He married Laura Waters in 1819, with whom he had seven children, two dying in infancy. He earned admittance to the Ohio bar in February of 1821 and started a practice in Jefferson, Ohio. Giddings won election to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1826. He won election, as Whig, to the U.S. House of Representatives to fill a vacancy. He won reelection to the Twenty-Sixth and Twenty-Seventy Congresses, serving from 1838 until he resigned in 1842. Giddings resigned after a vote of censure had been passed onto him by the House, due to his motion in defense of the enslaved people who mutinied in the Creole case. However, he won election back to the Twenty-Eighth Congress, as a Whig, to fill the vacancy from his own resignation, serving three terms (1843-49). While serving alongside Abraham Lincoln in the Thirtieth Congress, both men roomed at the same boarding house and argued over the slavery issue. Giddings opposed the annexation of Texas and the Mexican War. After years-long efforts to convert the Whig Party to his own advanced anti-slavery position, Giddings joined the Free Soil Party. In 1848, Giddings won election to the House as a Free Soil candidate, serving three more terms (1849-55). He vehemently opposed the Compromise of 1850, especially the Fugitive Slave Law. After the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Giddings assisted in leading the Free Soilers into the Republican Party, and won election back to the House, as a Republican, serving from 1855-59. He campaigned for John C. Fremont in 1856, and for Lincoln in 1860. In 1861, President Lincoln appointed Giddings consul general to Canada, a position he held until his death.

Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 1088; Gravestone, Oakdale Cemetery, Jefferson, OH; Merton L. Dillon, "Giddings, Joshua Reed," American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 8:946-47.