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Richmond, Thomas

Born: 1796-12-08 Windsor County, Vermont

Died: 1892-04-20 Windsor County, Vermont

Flourished: Chicago, Illinois

Thomas Richmond was a War of 1812 veteran, businessman, shipbuilder, merchant, abolitionist, and state legislator. Richmond spent his early years on the family farm in his native Vermont, where he received a public school education. Upon the commencement of the War of 1812, he sought to enlist in the military, but was too young to enlist as a soldier, so he spent the war as a personal valet to a captain in the U.S. Army. After the war, he moved to Syracuse, New York, where he manufactured and sold salt. In 1822, Richmond married Olive Yale, with whom he would have six children. Thomas and Olive lived in Syracuse until 1832, when Thomas moved his family to Richmond, Ohio, where he established a flourishing mercantile and ship-building enterprise. In 1840, Thomas moved his family and business to Cleveland, Ohio. In addition to his business activities, Thomas became involved in abolitionism and state and local politics. From 1837 to 1838, he served in the Ohio Legislature. In 1845, he ran for mayor of Cleveland on the Liberty Party ticket. In 1847, Thomas left Cleveland for Chicago, Illinois, where he continued his mercantile and shipping business. In addition to his shipping interests, Thomas established the Richmond House, a well-known hotel. In 1848, he was among the original founders of the Chicago Board of Trade, and in 1849 he helped organize the Chicago Temperance Savings Association. In 1854, Cook County voters elected Thomas to the Illinois House of Representatives, where he served from January to February 1855. In 1860, Thomas and his family were living in Chicago's First Ward, and he owned real property valued at $100,000 and had a personal estate of $22,000. Brought up as a Congregationalist, Thomas became a spiritualist in 1854. In 1870, he wrote a book, God Dealing With Slavery: God's Instrumentalities in Emancipating the African Slave in America, where he combined his abolitionist and spiritualist beliefs.

M.D. Gilman, The Bibliography of Vermont (Burlington, VT: Free Press, 1897), 233; Gertrude Van Rensselaer Wickham, The Pioneer Families of Cleveland 1796-1840([Cleveland]: Evangelical Publishing House, 1914), 2:574; Annuals of Cleveland 1818-1935: A Digest and Index of the Newspaper Record of Events and Opinions 1845(Cleveland: WPA, 1938), 28:229, 382; A. T. Andreas, History of Chicago(Chicago: A. T. Andreas, 1884), 1:518, 535, 582; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 221; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Ward 1, Chicago, Cook County, IL, 157; Thomas Richmond, God Dealing With Slavery: God's Instrumentalities in Emancipating the African Slave in America (Chicago: Religio-Philosophical, 1870); Gravestone, South Barnard Cemetery, Barnard, VT.