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Schenck, Robert C.

Born: 1809-10-04 Franklin, Ohio

Died: 1890-03-23 Washington, D.C.

Robert C. Schenck graduated from Miami College in 1827 and remained on the faculty until 1829, when he began studying law under Thomas Corwin. He was admitted to the bar in 1833. Schenck married Rennelche Smith in 1834, with whom he had six children. A Whig, he won a seat in the Ohio General Assembly in 1841 and became the party's floor leader. He was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives in 1843 and served in that capacity until 1850. Following the death of his wife in 1849, Schenck sought a diplomatic appointment, which he received in March 1851 when he became minister to Brazil. While there, he helped convince Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro to outlaw the slave trade. Upon his return to the United States, Schenck became president of the Fort Wayne and Western Railroad and remained outside of politics until 1859, after which he became a firm Republican and enthusiastic supporter of Abraham Lincoln. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Lincoln appointed Schenck brigadier general, and he remained in the field until suffering a wound to his right wrist during the Second Battle of Bull Run. Schenck was promoted to major general on August 30, 1862, and took command of the Middle Department. In 1863, he ran for Congress again, defeated leading Copperhead Democrat Clement Vallandigham, and resigned his commission on December 5, 1863. He remained a staunch member of the radical wing of the Republican Party for the duration of his congressional career.

Allan Peskin, "Schenck, Robert Cumming," American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 19:370-71; Fred B. Joyner, "Robert Cumming Schenck, First Citizen and Statesman of the Miami Valley" Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Quarterly 58 (July 1949), 286-97; Gravestone, Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, Dayton, OH.