Tod, David

Born: 1805-02-21 Ohio

Died: 1868-11-13 Ohio

Flourished: Ohio

David Tod was a lawyer, businessman, state politician, and the twenty-fifth governor of the State of Ohio. Born on a farm in Mahoning County, Ohio, near Youngstown, Tod attended Burton Academy and read law in Warren, Ohio, earning admission to the Ohio bar in 1827. Opening a law practice in Warren, Tod proved popular with juries, and his practice flourished. He also became involved in state and national politics. Drawn to Andrew Jackson and the nascent Democratic Party, Tod campaigned for Jackson in 1828, and Jackson rewarded Tod for his loyalty by appointing him postmaster of Warren in 1830. In 1838, Tod won election, as a Democrat, to the Ohio Senate, where he championed anti-banking, anti-abolitionist, and discriminatory legislation targeting African-Americans. After his term, Tod devoted himself to coal extraction, iron manufacturing, and railroad construction. In 1844 and 1846, he ran for governor of Ohio, losing both contests. In 1847, President James K. Polk appointed him envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Brazil, a position he held until 1851. In 1858, Tod was an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Congress. He found more success in business; in 1859, he established the Brier Hill Iron and Coal Company to develop and market the coal deposits on his parent's farm. He also became director of the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad, ensuring that the railroad ran through Youngstown. In 1859, he became president of the line, holding that job for the remainder of his life. These activities made Tod a wealthy man, and established Youngstown as a center of manufacturing. During the presidential election of 1860, Tod served as vice-president of the Democratic National Convention. When the Confederates attacked Fort Sumter, Tod threw his support behind President Abraham Lincoln and the Union. Seeking to get more Democrats involved in the war effort, the Republicans nominated Tod for governor of Ohio in 1861, and Tod won the governor's chair. During his two years in office, Tod had to cope with potential Confederate invasions, military defeats, and demands from Washington, DC for more men and material to prosecute the war. He alienated Radical Republicans with his lukewarm response to emancipation and angered War Democrats by his suppression of anti-war dissent. Tod hoped for renomination in 1863, but his political enemies mobilized to deny him another term. President Lincoln offered him the position of secretary of the treasury in 1864, but Tod turned down the opportunity to replace the departing Salmon P. Chase. Republican voters chose him to be a presidential elector in 1868, but he died before casting his vote.

Phyllis F. Field, "Tod, David," American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 21:717-18; Gravestone, Oak Hill Cemetery, Youngstown, OH.