GENERAL JACOB DOLSON COX, USA - History

GENERAL JACOB DOLSON COX, USA - History


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VITAL STATISTICS
BORN: 1828 in Montreal, CANADA.
DIED: 1900 in Glouster, MA.
CAMPAIGN: Virginia, Antietam, South Mountain, Franklin,
Nashville, Kingston, Goldsborough.
HIGHEST RANK ACHIEVED: Major General.
BIOGRAPHY
Jacob Dolson Cox was born in Montreal, Canada, on October 27, 1828. After graduating from Oberlin College in 1851; he became superintendent of schools in Warren Ohio, and opened a law practice. A free-soil Whig, he helped form a radical anti-slavery party. When the Civil War began, Cox joined the military. He became a brigadier general of volunteers to rank from May 17 1861. Cox took part in the western Virginia campaign of 1861, then the Antietam Campaign as part of the Army of the Potomac. He temporarily commanded the IX Corps at South Mountain and led it at Antietam. On December 7, 1864, the US Senate confirmed him a major general. After serving in Ohio and Tennessee, he defeated the Confederates at Kingston. Before he left the service, he was elected governor of Ohio. He was governor for a year, but did not win reelection because of his position as a moderate on the issue of black suffrage. Cox became Secretary of the Interior in 1868, under President Grant, in which position he supported civil service reforms. After resigning his position in 1870 because of difficulties with the President, he returned to his law practice. Cox worked as an educator, and wrote on military topics until his death on August 4, 1900, near Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Citizen-General Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era

“This is a comprehensive biography of … a very important figure, not only in Civil War military history but also in political and religious matters. This book makes a significant contribution by relating in a thoughtful, analytical way the life and career of one of the most important Ohioans of that era. The author has clearly done his homework, and the text is not only well researched but very polished.”

Steven E. Woodworth, professor of history, Texas Christian University

“In Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era, Eugene D. Schmiel seeks to provide a better understanding of the Civil War era and the memory of it through a consideration of the heretofore neglected Jacob Dolson Cox.…By shining a light on the varied careers of Jacob Dolson Cox, Eugene D. Schmiel has opened the dialog on this significant figure of the Civil War era and commenced the process of historical revision that Cox described.”

U.S. Military History Review

Citizen-General is an important biographical treatment of a man whose rather modest place in the popular imagination belies an enviable record of notable influences on 19th century America.”

Civil War Books and Authors

“Jacob Cox was not just a significant figure in the Civil War and the writing of its history, but an important player in postwar politics as well. In Citizen-General, Eugene D. Schmiel provides an account of Cox's life and career, and the forces that shaped them, that is informative, impressively researched, and consistently interesting. This is a book that will appeal to anyone with an interest in the Civil War and its aftermath.”

Ethan S. Rafuse, author of McClellan's War

The wrenching events of the Civil War transformed not only the United States but also the men unexpectedly called on to lead their fellow citizens in this first modern example of total war. Jacob Dolson Cox, a former divinity student with no formal military training, was among those who rose to the challenge. In a conflict in which “political generals” often proved less than competent, Cox, the consummate citizen general, emerged as one of the best commanders in the Union army.

During his school days at Oberlin College, no one could have predicted that the intellectual, reserved, and bookish Cox possessed what he called in his writings the “military aptitude” to lead men effectively in war. His military career included helping secure West Virginia for the Union jointly commanding the left wing of the Union army at the critical Battle of Antietam breaking the Confederate supply line and thereby helping to precipitate the fall of Atlanta and holding the defensive line at the Battle of Franklin, a Union victory that effectively ended the Confederate threat in the West.

At a time when there were few professional schools other than West Point, the self-made man was the standard for success true to that mode, Cox fashioned himself into a Renaissance man. In each of his vocations and avocations—general, governor, cabinet secretary, university president, law school dean, railroad president, historian, and scientist—he was recognized as a leader. Cox’s greatest fame, however, came to him as the foremost participant historian of the Civil War. His accounts of the conflict are to this day cited by serious scholars and serve as a foundation for the interpretation of many aspects of the war.


Jacob D. Cox

Jacob Dolson Cox served as Ohio governor from 1866 to 1868.

Cox was born on October 27, 1828, in Montreal, Canada. Although his family lived in New York, Cox's father was a construction contractor and had taken his family to Montreal while he oversaw a construction project. After the project was complete, the family returned to New York. Cox's father was descended from German immigrants, whereas his mother's family came from New England. One of her ancestors was Puritan William Brewster.

Most of Cox's early education was informal. He briefly attended a private school in New York, but he achieved most of his education by reading and studying privately. He spent two years working as a clerk in a law office, starting at the age of fourteen. At sixteen, Cox began an apprenticeship at a brokerage firm. It was during this time that the Reverend Samuel D. Cochran, a graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, came to New York to start a church. Cox attended some revival meetings led by the Reverend Charles G. Finney and decided to join Cochran's church, along with his mother and sisters. He decided to study for the ministry, attending Oberlin College and graduating in 1850. During his years of study at Oberlin, Cox worked as a baker for the college and tutored algebra to pay for his tuition, but he also took time to participate in a number of student societies on the campus. The Reverend Finney was president of Oberlin College at this time, and Cox fell in love with his daughter, a young widow with a small child. The two were married on Thanksgiving Day, 1849, and the couple lived with Finney after their marriage. Cox and Finney eventually disagreed with each other over theological matters, causing Cox to leave Oberlin in 1851. At the time, Cox was a graduate student in theology.

Cox moved his family to Warren, Ohio, and became the superintendent of schools there. At the same time, he began to read the law, gaining admittance to the Ohio bar in 1853. Cox was a well-respected member of the community. He soon became involved in local politics, helping to organize the Republican Party in Trumbull County in 1855. Because of his reputation and experience, Cox successfully ran for the Ohio Senate in 1859.

As a senator in the state legislature, Cox gained a strong reputation. He made an alliance with James Monroe, another Oberlin graduate, and James A. Garfield. The three men worked with Governor William Dennison to pass legislation in the months leading up to the American Civil War. Cox, Monroe, and Garfield gained the nickname "the Radical Triumvirate" because of their influence. In addition, Cox became involved in the state's military life during this time, becoming brigadier-general of the state militia in early 1860.

When the Civil War began, Cox did not hesitate. He immediately left the state senate to recruit and lead Ohio volunteers. Cox then was appointed commander of Camp Jackson. Volunteers from all over the state gathered at Camp Jackson before making their way to their field assignments.

Cox soon was commanding troops in the field. He remained in service for the duration of the war, rising from brigadier-general to major general. During the Civil War, Cox led troops into battle in western Virginia in the Kanawha Valley campaign, at South Mountain, and at Antietam. On April 16, 1863, General Cox assumed command of the district of Ohio, where he remained for the duration of the year. In 1864, Cox assumed control of the Twenty-Third Army Corps and participated in the Atlanta, Franklin, and Nashville campaigns. He united his forces with General William T. Sherman's army in North Carolina in March 1865. Cox's military service officially ended when he resigned on January 1, 1866, having successfully run for Ohio governor.

Later in life, Cox would borrow from his military experiences in the war to write a number of military histories. His works included Atlanta (1882), The Battle of Franklin (1897), The March to the Sea (1898), and Military Reminiscences of the Civil War (two volumes), published just before his death in 1900. In addition, he served as the military book critic for the magazine The Nation.

Cox's reputation as a competent military leader propelled him into state politics at the end of the Civil War. The Union Party, already beginning to lose its cohesiveness by the latter half of 1865, chose Cox as its gubernatorial candidate for the election of October 1865. Cox campaigned hard, making Reconstruction policies and African American civil rights key elements of his platform. Although Cox had been somewhat supportive of abolitionist goals prior to the Civil War, he adamantly opposed granting African Americans the right to vote. In his speeches, he also advocated separating whites and African Americans in the South, putting former slaves onto reservations. Cox supported President Andrew Johnson's plan for Reconstruction, which was a conciliatory policy towards the South. Cox won the election by a wide margin, defeating Democrat George W. Morgan. He served one term as governor, from 1866 to 1868. During Cox's term, Ohioans revoked their support of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which sought to give African Americans equal protection under the law. Ohioans also rejected a statewide referendum that sought to give African American men the right to vote. Cox decided not to run for reelection in 1867.

Cox briefly retired from politics when he left office in early 1868 and moved to Cincinnati to establish a law practice. In March 1869, he became secretary of the interior in President Ulysses S. Grant's administration. After only a year and a half, Cox resigned as secretary of the interior because he did not like the "spoils" system that operated in Grant's administration. He returned to his law practice in Cincinnati until he became president of the Toledo and Wabash Railroad Company in 1873. In order to fulfill his new duties, Cox moved to Toledo. He remained as president of the railroad until 1878, in the meantime serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from the Toledo district from 1877 to 1879.

After leaving Congress, Cox turned to academic pursuits. During his years in Toledo, Cox had developed an interest in microscopy. He became prominent within this field, publishing papers in professional journals and serving as a fellow of the American Microscopial Society throughout the 1880s, ultimately becoming its president in 1892. In 1881, Cox became the dean of the Cincinnati Law School. He held this position for sixteen years and simultaneously served as president of the University of Cincinnati from 1885 to 1889. Cox retired as dean of the Cincinnati Law School in 1897. President William McKinley asked Cox to become the United States minister to Spain at this time, but Cox refused his offer. Instead, he decided to write his memoirs. Cox died at Magnolia, Massachusetts, on August 4, 1900. He was interred in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Contents

Jacob Dolson Cox was born in Montreal (then located in the British colonial Province of Lower Canada) on October 27, 1828. [4] His father and mother respectively were Jacob Dolson Cox and Thedia Redelia (Kenyon) Cox, both Americans and residents of New York. [4] His father Jacob was of Dutch origin, descended from Hanoverian emigrant Michael Cox (Koch) who arrived in New York in 1702. [5] His mother Thedia was descended from Revolutionary War Connecticut soldier Payne Kenyon who was there when British General John Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga in 1777. [5] Thedia also was descended from Revolutionary War Connecticut soldier Freeman Allyn, who fought against Benedict Arnold at Groton. [5] The Allyns were the early settlers of Salem and Manchester, Massachusetts. [5] Thedia was additionally descended from the Elder William Brewster who emigrated to the Plymouth Colony on the Mayflower in 1620. [5]

The elder Jacob was a New York building contractor and superintended the roof construction of the Church of Notre Dame in Montreal. [1] Cox returned with his parents to New York City a year later. His early education included private readings with a Columbia College student. His family suffered a financial setback during the Panic of 1837, and Cox was unable to afford a college education and obtain a law degree. New York State law mandated that an alternative to college would be to work as an apprentice in the legal firm for seven years before entering the bar. [1] In 1842, Cox entered into an apprenticeship for a legal firm and worked for two years. Having changed his mind on becoming a lawyer, Cox worked as a bookkeeper in a brokerage firm and studied mathematics and classical languages in his off hours. [1] In 1846 he enrolled at Oberlin College in the preparatory school having been influenced by the Reverends Samuel D. Cochran and Charles Grandison Finney, leaders of Oberlin College to study theology and become a minister. [1] Oberlin College was a progressive educational facility that was coeducational and admitted students of different races. He graduated from Oberlin with a degree in theology in 1850 [6] or 1851. [7] [8] After a disagreement with his father-in-law over theology, Cox left his ministerial studies and became superintendent of the Warren, Ohio, school system. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1853. [1]

While attending Oberlin, Cox married the eldest daughter of college president Finney in 1849 at age 19, Helen Clarissa Finney was already a widow with a small son. [1] The couple lived with the president, but Cox and his father-in-law became estranged due to theological disputes. Cox was the father of the painter Kenyon Cox his grandson, Allyn Cox, was a noted muralist.

Cox was a Whig and had voted for Winfield Scott in 1852, having strong family abolitionist ties. As the Whig party dissolved, in 1855 Cox helped to organize the Republican Party in Ohio and stumped for its candidates in counties surrounding Warren. Cox was elected to the Ohio State Senate in 1859 [6] and formed a political alliance with Senator and future President James A. Garfield, and with Governor Salmon P. Chase. While in the legislature, he accepted a commission with the Ohio Militia as a brigadier general and spent much of the winter of 1860–61 studying military science. [9]

At the start of the war, Cox was the father of six children (of the eight he and Helen eventually had), but he chose to enter Federal service as an Ohio volunteer. [6] Cox had remained a member of the Ohio state Senate when the Civil War broke out at the Battle of Fort Sumter. [10] Cox joined the Union Army to fulfill Ohio's Union quota of troops. On April 3, 1861, Cox was appointed Brigadier General of Ohio Volunteers by Ohio Governor William Dennision. [10]

His first assignment was to command a recruiting camp near Columbus, and then the Kanawha Brigade of the Department of the Ohio. His brigade joined the Department of Western Virginia and fought successfully in the early Kanawha Valley campaign under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan. In 1862 the brigade moved to Washington, D.C., and was attached to John Pope's Army of Virginia, but was delayed by McClellan and so did not see action at the Second Battle of Bull Run with the rest of the army. At the beginning of the Maryland Campaign, Cox's brigade became the Kanawha Division of the IX Corps of the Army of the Potomac. In the Maryland campaign, Cox's men took the important city of Frederick, Maryland, and Cox led the assault on the Confederates on September 14, 1862, at the Battle of South Mountain. When corps commander Maj. Gen. Jesse L. Reno was killed at South Mountain, Cox assumed command of the IX Corps. He suggested to Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, formally the commander of IX Corps, but who was commanding a two-corps "wing" of the Army, that he be allowed to return to division command, which was more in keeping with his level of military experience. Burnside refused the suggestion but kept Cox under his supervision at the Battle of Antietam. Burnside allowed Cox to execute all orders from McClellan at the battle, while he remained behind the lines. Cox's advancing IX Corps came within minutes of overwhelming the Confederate right wing at Antietam, when they were hit by A.P. Hill's division, which forced Cox to withdraw closer to Union lines.

After Antietam, Cox was appointed major general to rank from October 6, 1862, but this appointment expired the following March when the United States Senate felt that there were too many generals of this rank already serving. He was later renominated and confirmed on December 7, 1864. Most of 1863 was quiet for Cox, who was assigned to command the District of Ohio, and later the District of Michigan, in the Department of Ohio.

During the Atlanta, Franklin-Nashville, and Carolinas campaigns of 1864–65, Cox commanded the 3rd Division of the XXIII Corps of the Army of the Ohio, under Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield. His 3rd Division provided the main effort in the assault at the Battle of Utoy Creek, August 6, 1864. Cox's men broke the Confederate supply line on the Macon and Western Railroad on August 31, leading Confederate General John Bell Hood to abandon Atlanta. During Hood's Tennessee Campaign, Cox and his troops narrowly escaped being surrounded by Hood at Spring Hill, Tennessee, and he is credited with saving the center of the Union battle line at the Battle of Franklin in November 1864. Cox led the 3rd Division at the Battle of Wilmington in North Carolina, then took command of the District of Beaufort and a Provisional Corps, which he led at the Battle of Wyse Fork, before it was officially designated the XXIII Corps.

Before mustering out of the Army on January 1, 1866, Cox was elected governor of Ohio in October 1865. He served from 1866 to 1868, but his moderate views on African-American suffrage and his earlier endorsement of President Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction policy caused him to decide not to run for reelection. He then moved to Cincinnati to practice law.

Cox was appointed Secretary of the Interior by President Ulysses S. Grant upon his March 4, 1869 Inauguration. Cox served from March 5 to October 31, 1870, a total of 575 days in office. Cox was an effective advocate of civil service reform and introduced a merit system and testing for appointees. His nomination was accepted by reformers and he was immediately confirmed by the Senate. Grant initially gave Cox the freedom to run his department as he saw fit "focused on public service as an advocation, not a career." [11] However, after Grant failed to back him up against Republican politicians who thrived on the patronage system then rampant in the Interior Department, Cox resigned. As Secretary of Interior Cox was considered an independent thinker. [2] This countered Grant's instincts as a military general believing Cox was acting insubordinate to his presidency. [2] Grant's own view on Cox's resignation, possibly unfairly, was that, "The trouble was that General Cox thought the Interior Department was the whole government, and that Cox was the Interior Department." [12]

Implemented civil service reform Edit

After the Mexican–American War the United States acquired more territories and the Interior Department expanded enormously. [13] Cox's responsibilities varied widely, and he administered the Patent, Land, Pensions, and Indian Affairs Offices, the Census, marshalls, and officials of federal court, and was in charge of transcontinental railroads. [13] The growth of the Interior Department had also expanded a spoils system of patronage that many reformers believed was corrupt. [13] The distribution of federal jobs by Congressional legislators was considered vital for their reelection to Congress. [14] Grant required that all applicants to federal jobs apply directly to the Department heads, rather than the President. [14] This gave Cox the authority and opportunity to reform the Interior Department's personnel system. [14]

Secretary Cox was an enthusiastic advocate of civil service reform and upon assuming office he was the first federal department head to implement a civil service merit system in a federal department. [14] Cox's reforms were to limit the spoils system and check the expansion of the federal government's power and influence. [14] Cox fired a third of the clerks unqualified to hold office, and he instituted examinations in the Patent and Census Offices for most applicants, while he requested clerks working in the Patent Office to take the examinations to prove they were worthy to hold office. [14] Many clerks resigned on their own rather than take the examinations. [14] Cox even declined to give his brother a job in the Interior, saying he did not want to be charged with nepotism. [14] Cox's moralistic approach to civil service reform would eventually clash with President Grant's practical use of patronage appointment powers. [15]

By mid-May 1870, Cox's reforms clashed with the patronage driven political system and its leaders. [16] Congressional Republican committee leaders demanded that Cox give departmental employees the "opportunity" to give political assessments. [16] Cox responded that "no subscriptions to political funds or show of political zeal will secure their retention." [16] Cox made contributions voluntary, but the ability to pass civil service examinations would remain mandatory, to keep their jobs. [16] [2] Cox said that mandatory assessments would be distressful to the employees families financially. [17]

The breaking point came between Cox and Congressional patronage powers, when Cox implemented a 30 day paid leave policy on federal employees at the Interior Department, in part used for the fall campaign. [18] Workers would not be paid for extra days off after the 30-day limit. [18] Prior to electric air conditioning, the hot Summer of 1870 caused employees to use up most of their 30 day vacation time, leaving only a few days of paid campaigning. [18] Many clerks complained to party leaders Senator Zachariah Chandler and Senator Simon Cameron, saying they could not campaign, putting the blame on Cox's 30 vacation policy. [18] Cameron was reported to have said, "Damn Secretary Cox ! We'll see the President about this fool business." [18] The pressure from party leaders worked, and on October 3, 1870, Grant overturned Cox's 30 day vacation rule. [19]

Dominican Republic annexation treaty Edit

Even before Grant became president, an annexationist faction in American politics desired control over the Caribbean islands. William H. Seward, Secretary of State under Lincoln and Johnson, having purchased Alaska from the Russians and attempted to buy the Danish West Indies from the Danes, began negotiations to purchase the Dominican Republic, then referred to as Santo Domingo. [20] These negotiations continued under Grant, led by Orville E. Babcock, a confidant who had served on Grant's staff during the Civil War. [20] Grant was initially skeptical, but at the urging of Admiral Porter, who wanted a naval base at Samaná Bay, and Joseph W. Fabens, a New England businessman employed by the Dominican government, Grant examined the matter and became convinced of its wisdom. [21] Grant believed in peaceful expansion of the nation's borders and thought the majority-black island would allow new economic opportunities for freedmen. The acquisition, according to Grant, would ease race relations in the South, clear slavery from Brazil and Cuba, and increase American naval power in the Caribbean. [22]

Grant sent Babcock to consult with Buenaventura Báez, the pro-annexation Dominican president, to see if the proposal was practical Babcock returned with a draft treaty of annexation in December 1869. [21] Secretary of State Hamilton Fish told Cox in a private meeting that Babcock had no authorization to make such a treaty. Going against his normal protocol of listening to each Cabinet member, Grant revealed Babcock's unauthorized treaty to his cabinet without discussion. [23] Grant casually told his Cabinet he knew Babcock had no authority to make the treaty but he could remedy this by having the treaty authorized by the United States Dominican Republic Consul. [23] All of the Cabinet kept quiet until Secretary Cox spoke up and asked Grant, "But Mr. President, has it been settled, then, that we want to annex Santo Domingo?" [23] Grant blushed and was embarrassed by Cox's direct questioning. Grant then turned to his left looking at Secretary Fish and then turned to his right looking at Secretary of Treasury George S. Boutwell, puffing hard on his cigar. The uncomfortable silence continued until President Grant ordered another item of business. [23] The assembled Cabinet never again spoke on Santo Domingo. [23] Grant personally lobbied Senators to pass the treaty, going so far as to visit Charles Sumner at his home. [24] Fish out of loyalty to Grant authorized and submitted the treaty. The Senate, led by the opposition of Sumner, refused to pass the treaty. [25] [26]

Indian affairs Edit

After the Piegan Indian massacre in January 1870, Secretary Cox in March 1870 demanded that Congress implement definitive and lasting legislation on Indian Policy. [27] President Grant, who desired that Indians become "civilized," had created the Board of Indian Commissioners in 1869 under his Peace policy. Cox defended the integrity of the Commissioners appointed by President Grant. [27] The massacre indirectly helped keep the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the Department of Interior, rather than be transferred to the Department of War. Cox believed that industrial progress such as railroads and telegraph lines were no excuse to break treaties with the Indians. Cox believed that Native Americans derived no benefits from frontier towns that took away pasture lands from the buffalo herds, an Indian food staple. Cox believed that keeping promises to the Indians, rather than breaking treaties, was essential for peace. Cox, however, viewed Indians had low intelligence, were conceited, and made poor diplomats. [27] In 1871, after Cox had resigned from office, Congress and President Grant created a comprehensive law that ended the Indian treaty system the law treated individual Native Americans as wards of the federal government, rather than dealing with the tribes as sovereign entities. [28]

In early 1870, Sioux Indians in Wyoming, under the leadership of Chief Red Cloud and Chief Spotted Tail, were upset as white settlers encroached on Indian land. [29] To avoid war, Red Cloud asked to see President Grant, who along with Spotted Tail, were allowed to journey East to Washington. [29] Cox looked forward to their visit, hoping to convince the Sioux chiefs of the federal government's commitment to Indian treaties, and also to impress them with the power and grandeur of the nation, so they would be fearful of making war. [29] Arriving in Washington, the chiefs had conversations with Cox, Ely Parker, and President Grant. [29] On June 1, the chiefs were given a tour of Washington, but failed to be awed into submission. [29] On June 2, Cox was scolded by Spotted Tail for not keeping the Treaty of 1868. [29] In response, Cox lectured Spotted Tail that complaining was not manly, and that the Grant administration's Indian policies had positive results. [29] Spotted Tail jested to Cox, that Cox would have slit his throat if he had to live through the troubles Spotted Tail was forced to endure. [29] On June 3, Red Cloud took a similar tact as Spotted Tail, emphasizing he would not give up the old ways. [29] Red Cloud asked Cox for food and ammunition so his people could hunt and not starve, railed against broken treaties, and forcing Indians into starvation. [29] Cox put the chiefs off and told them they would speak with President Grant. [30]

On June 7, Cox attempted to placate the Indian chiefs that President Grant, the "Great White Father", acted not out of fear, but had the desire to do the right thing. [31] Cox told the Indians they would get all they asked for, except for guns, and Cox personally promised to see the treaties were kept to the letter. [31] Meeting the Indians, President Grant was warm and welcome and emphasized the same sentiments as Cox. [31] Grant gave the chiefs a formal State Dinner at the White House, that proved to emphasize a clash of two cultures. [31] The chiefs were given fine foods and wine but were especially fond of strawberry ice cream. [31] Spotted Tail was reported to have commented that his white hosts ate far better foods than the rations sent to the Indians. [31] At their final meeting, Cox offered several more concessions, and allowed the Indians to give names of agents they would prefer to act as interlocutors with the government. [31] Cox also promised to give the chiefs seventeen horses. [31] Red Cloud apologized to Cox for his rudeness, while Cox promised to promote Indian interest. [31] Before returning to Wyoming the Indians visited New York City, and the philanthropist eastern papers demanded a more generous Sioux policy. [31] Cox sent the Indians the promised seventeen horses and arranged for a group of reformers to accompany the promised goods. [31] The arrival of the aid package did much to calm the situation and war was averted. [31] One historian noted that the Washington visit was a success, while Red Cloud adopted a policy of diplomacy rather than war. [31]

McGarrahan claims and resignation Edit

In August 1870, Secretary Cox came into conflict with President Grant over the fraudulent McGarrahan claims. Grant wanted the McGarrahan claims either settled by Congress or if Congress failed to do so then his administration. Although Grant believed there was fraud in the matter he wanted the McGarrahan claims settled. Cox, however, in a letter to the President, told Grant that he wanted nothing to do with the McGarrahan claims, believing that McGarrahan was entirely fraudulent in asking for a patent on land claims in California. Cox stated that one of McGarrahan's attorneys was instructed to bribe Cox $20,000 for him to approve that patent. McGarrahan had applied for a patent on California agriculture land to be bought up at a low price. However, the land was actually used for gold mining purposes. Cox appealed to Grant not to have Cox appear before a District Court in regards to the McGarrahan claims and to hold a Cabinet meeting over the matter. Cox believed that the District Court had no jurisdiction over that matter and that the Department of Interior had sole jurisdiction. When Grant gave no support to Cox over not appearing before the court, Cox saw this as an additional reason for continuing in office—though civil service reform was the proximate cause of his resignation. [32]

Dissatisfaction over the Grant administration, his appointments of family and friends, [33] corruption at the New York Customs House, [34] and his attempt to annex Santo Domingo, [35] led many reformers to seek new leadership. Grant's prosecution of the Ku Klux Klan alienated former Republican allies, who believed civil service reform should have priority over civil rights of blacks. [36] In 1870, Senator Carl Schurz of Missouri, a German immigrant, bolted from the regular Republican Party. [36] After Cox resigned office the same year, many reformers believed that Grant was incapable of reforming civil service. [37] Grant, however, had yet not given up on civil service reform and he created the Civil Service Commission, authorized and funded by Congress, whose rules would be effective January 1, 1872. [38] Grant appointed reformer and Harper's Weekly editor George William Curtis to head the commission. [38] Grant appointment Columbus Delano, Grant's third cousin and replacement of Cox, however, exempted the Interior Department from the Commission's rules, later saying the Department was too large for compliance. [39]

In March 1871, a disgruntled Cox organized a breakaway nucleus of reforming Republicans in Cincinnati, when 100 Republicans signed a pact, separating themselves from the regular Republican Party, calling themselves Liberal Republicans. [40] Schurz, now considered a Liberal Republican ringleader, advocated full amnesty for former Confederates. [40] The new party demanded "civil service reform, sound money, low tariffs, and state's rights." [40] Meeting on May 1, 1872 at their convention held in Cincinnati, the Liberal Republicans nominated New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley for President of the United States. [41] Cox had been mentioned for the presidency, but he was not put on the ballot. Reformers had favored Charles Francis Adams for president and he was put on the ballot, but he could not obtain enough votes to capture the nomination. Cox was against Greeley's nomination and withdrew his support for the Liberal Republican Revolt. [42] Greeley, in effect, took the campaign from reformers, attacking Grant's Reconstruction policy, rather than making reform the primary goal. Grant, who was renominated by the regular Republican Party, easily won reelection over Greeley having captured 56% of the popular vote. [43]

Cox was considered as a U.S. Senate candidate in the 1872 election, but the Ohio legislature selected a less conservative candidate. At this time U.S. Senators were chosen by state legislatures rather than by popular vote.

Railroad president and receiver (1873-1878) Edit

In October 1873, Cox was made President and Receiver of the Toledo and Wabash Railroad. Cox moved to Toledo, Ohio, to take charge of the property. He served from 1873 to 1878. [44]

U.S. Representative (1877-1879) Edit

Republican Party candidate Cox was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Toledo in 1876. Cox served a single term in the Forty-Fifth Congress from 1877 to 1879. Cox defeated Democratic Party candidate Frank H. Hurd. Cox received 17,276 votes against Hurd who received 15,361 votes. [44] Cox represented the Sixth District of Ohio that included Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Ottawa, Williams, and Wood counties. Cox declined to run for a second term. [44]

Cincinnati Law School dean (1881-1897) Edit

He then returned to Cincinnati, serving as Dean of the Cincinnati Law School from 1881 to 1897. After retiring from his position as dean, he was urged by President William McKinley to accept the position of U.S. ambassador to Spain, but declined, having strong anti-imperialist views

University of Cincinnati president (1885-1889) Edit

Cox was President of the University of Cincinnati from 1885 to 1889.

Military historian and author Edit

During his later years, Cox was a prolific author. His works include Atlanta (published in 1882) The March to the Sea: Franklin and Nashville (1882) The Second Battle of Bull Run (1882) The Battle of Franklin, Tennessee (1897) and Military Reminiscences of the Civil War (1900). His books are still today cited by scholars as objective histories and, in the case of his memoirs, incisive analyses of military practice and events.

Cox died on summer vacation at Gloucester, Massachusetts. He is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati.

With the exception of dissertations and a few biographical articles, there were no 20th-century book biographies of Cox's entire life. [42] In 1901, historian William Cox Cochran authored a 35-page book titled General Jacob Dolson Cox: Early Life and Military Services published by Bibliotheca Sacra Company in Oberlin, Ohio. The Biographical Dictionary of America published in 1906 by the American Biographical Society, edited by Rossiter Johnson, had a biographical article on Cox, that included a sketch portrait of Cox. Volume 4 of Dictionary of American Biography, edited by Dumas Malone, published in 1930 by Charles Scribner's Sons, has a biographical article on Cox, authored by Homer Carey Hockett (H.C.H.). In 2014, historian Eugene D. Schmiel authored Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era book biography on Cox's entire life.

According to historian Donald K. Pickens, Cox "was a fascinating figure, very much part of his time, yet his various interests and achievements set him apart from his contemporaries." [42] Pickens said Cox was an effective Secretary of Interior, "following Grant's policy of eventual assimilation of American Indians." [45] Cox's endorsement of civil service reform was in opposition to powerful Republican Senators. [42] Historian Ron Chernow said Cox was a conservative on Grant's cabinet, preaching against black suffrage and favored racial segregation, but "he enjoyed a reputation of an efficient administrator and an energetic ally of civil service reform." [46] Historian Eugene D. Schmiel said Cox, as Grant's Secretary of Interior, "implemented one of the most far-reaching attempts to reform Indian Policy and instituted the federal government's first extensive civil service reform." [47] Schmiel said "knowledge of Cox the citizen-general is limited, and he remains a relative unknown except to specialists and buffs." [47] Concerning Cox's published military works, historian H.C.H. said that Cox, in general, was "recognized as an elegant and forceful writer, of fine critical ability and impartial judgement, one of the foremost military historians of the country." [48]

Around 1873, Cox became interested the study of microscopy and took it up as a recreational hobby. [50] Cox's first studies were on fresh water forms, including rotatoria and diatomaceae. [50] Cox displayed painstaking thoroughness and logical analysis in his microscopical studies, keeping notes of his work and observations. [50] In 1874, Cox took up the study of photo-micrography, and in 1875 he began making a series of photo-micrographs of diatomaceae, that totaled several hundred in number. [50] In 1881, Cox was elected fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society. [51] Cox gave up microscopical study in 1895, believing it damaged his eyes, but his interest in microscopy remained life long. [52]


GENERAL JACOB DOLSON COX, USA - History

A History Book Club Reading Selection

The wrenching events of the Civil War transformed not only the United States but also the men unexpectedly called on to lead their fellow citizens in this first modern example of total war. Jacob Dolson Cox, a former divinity student with no formal military training, was among those who rose to the challenge. In a conflict in which &ldquopolitical generals&rdquo often proved less than competent, Cox, the consummate citizen general, emerged as one of the best commanders in the Union army.

During his school days at Oberlin College, no one could have predicted that the intellectual, reserved, and bookish Cox possessed what he called in his writings the &ldquomilitary aptitude&rdquo to lead men effectively in war. His military career included helping secure West Virginia for the Union jointly commanding the left wing of the Union army at the critical Battle of Antietam breaking the Confederate supply line and thereby precipitating the fall of Atlanta and holding the defensive line at the Battle of Franklin, a Union victory that effectively ended the Confederate threat in the West.

At a time when there were few professional schools other than West Point, the self-made man was the standard for success true to that mode, Cox fashioned himself into a Renaissance man. In each of his vocations and avocations&mdashgeneral, governor, cabinet secretary, university president, law school dean, railroad president, historian, and scientist&mdashhe was recognized as a leader. Cox&rsquos greatest fame, however, came to him as the foremost participant historian of the Civil War. His accounts of the conflict are to this day cited by serious scholars and serve as a foundation for the interpretation of many aspects of the war.

Praise For Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era (War and Society in North America)&hellip

“This is a comprehensive biography of … a very important figure, not only in Civil War military history but also in political and religious matters. This book makes a significant contribution by relating in a thoughtful, analytical way the life and career of one of the most important Ohioans of that era. The author has clearly done his homework, and the text is not only well researched but very polished.”
— Steven E. Woodworth, professor of history, Texas Christian University, and author of several books on the Civil War among them, This Great Struggle: America’s Civil War

“Lawyer, soldier, governor, businessman, historian, scientist, law school dean, university president, statesman, Jacob D. Cox helped win the war for the Union and shaped the nation in the decades after. I was particularly delighted with Gene Schmiel's account of Cox the Historian. He does a superb job in unraveling the tangled literary debates and personal quarrels of the veterans who fought the war. Gene Schmiel is to be applauded for this perceptive and authoritative account of an extraordinary American.”
— Donald B. Connelly, Professor, US Army Command & General Staff College

“Jacob Cox may be the most intriguing character from the Civil War era that most Americans have never heard of. In Citizen-General, Eugene D. Schmiel captures his achievements and his contradictions, allowing us to see Cox as a key figure in a convulsive moment of American history.”
— Nicholas Guyatt, University of York, author of Providence and the Invention of the United States

“Jacob Cox was not just a significant figure in the Civil War and the writing of its history, but an important player in postwar politics as well. In Citizen-General, Eugene D. Schmiel provides an account of Cox's life and career, and the forces that shaped them, that is informative, impressively researched, and consistently interesting. This is a book that will appeal to anyone with an interest in the Civil War and its aftermath.”
— Ethan S. Rafuse, author of McClellan's War

“Jacob Dolson Cox played a major role in a number of different campaigns of the Civil War, including command of the 9th Corps at the Battle of Antietam. His military service—and his career as a politician—have long cried out for a full-length biographical treatment. Dr. Eugene Schmiel has rectified that oversight with his new biography of Cox. This well-researched, fair, and balanced treatment of Cox's life deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the role played by political generals in the Civil War.”
— Eric J. Wittenberg


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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02414.050 Author/Creator: Scammon, Eliakim Parker (1816-1894) Place Written: Fayetteville, West Virginia Type: Autograph note signed Date: 6 April 1862 Pagination: 1 p. 9 x 20.2 cm.

Colonel Scammon of the 23rd Ohio regiment writes General Cox, division commander, to ask if 24 horses can be sent.

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GENERAL JACOB DOLSON COX, USA - History

[Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era by Eugene D. Schmiel (Ohio University Press, 2014). Softcover, photos, notes, select bibliography, index. Pages main/total:284/353. ISBN:978-0-8214-2083-6 $26.95]

Given Major General Jacob D. Cox's more than solid Civil War combat record and his deep influence on the historiography of the conflict through his many writings, it's surprising more hasn't been written about him. In his seven decades of life, Cox went in and out of a number of careers and avocations. In addition to being a fine soldier, he was a divinity student, lawyer, politician, cabinet secretary, amateur scientist, law school professor, university president, and historian. All of these phases of the Ohioan's life are covered in Eugene Schmiel's biography Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era but the book wisely focuses on Cox's Civil War career, his historical writings, and his political offices, the first two exemplary in scope and accomplishment and the last perhaps a great lost opportunity.

Cox and Schmiel find themselves in agreement that the general's best moments were during the battles of South Mountain and Franklin. However, one should not overlook Cox's 1861 Kanawha Campaign because of its small scale. In a largely independent role, his successful campaign, after the initial mishap at Scary Creek, was one of the ablest offensive operations conducted by any Union general during the first six months of the war. Schmiel's summaries of Cox's campaigns are solid overall, though one might wish for more detailed insight into Cox's style of generalship. Cox, a political general, was able to cultivate effective working relationships with high ranking professional army officers, an important trait absent in many high ranking officers drawn from civilian life, and earned their respect to the degree of their appointing Cox to critical positions of great authority (ex. co-leading the IX Corps during the Maryland Campaign and commanding the line at Franklin) and listening to his advice. With Schmiel accepting Cox's justifications and excuses for IX Corps's poor showing at Antietam, both subject and biographer seem equally dismayed as to why Cox was basically sidelined between Antietam and the Atlanta Campaign. They really shouldn't be. Regardless of whether Cox with good reason felt let down by McClellan for not keeping a key subordinate informed of the situation beyond the Army of the Potomac's far left or in denying IX Corps support from the army reserve, in an uncertain situation a corps commander is responsible for attending to his own flank protection. There's really no adequate excuse for getting surprised and rolled back by a vastly inferior force. Even if one considers Burnside (who was overseeing Cox on that day) more at fault, it was a bad moment to be in nominal command.

Given that the state of Ohio was the cradle of presidents during the post-bellum period, why Cox was unable to use his own rank and achievements, which were superior to all but Grant's, to catapult himself into the highest office in the land is deserving of analysis. Schmiel persuasively attributes Cox's comparatively modest political ceiling (he was a one term governor and Grant's Secretary of the Interior) to several factors. While a Democrat-hating Republican (albeit of the more conservative wing), Cox consistently refused to toe the more radical national party line. Politicians possessing strong independent streaks, and who also fail to be publicly guarded in promoting unconventional opinions, frequently get into trouble with those party power brokers necessary for their advancement, and Cox's skepticism of black suffrage and support for internal colonization of ex-slaves damaged his political potential. As Interior Secretary, he was also a tireless opponent of the spoils system, instead advocating true civil service reform. He failed in the crusade after butting heads with party leaders and Grant himself and ultimately resigned. It is common for admiring biographers to present their subject as an island of selfless integrity amid an ocean of corruption and compromised principle, but in this instance exaggeration appears to be minimal, as Schmiel offers numerous comments from political friends and foes alike disdaining Cox's impractical idealism. Of course, Cox's own general officer appointment straight from civilian life was political patronage, a contradiction not commented upon by Schmiel and seemingly lost on Cox himself.

Schmiel also thoroughly details Cox's lasting contributions, through a series of books, articles, and review essays, to Civil War military historiography and remembrance. According to the author, the general's writings were better researched and less self serving (at least early on) than the typical memoirs and histories written by Civil War generals and politicians. In later works, Cox, realizing the hard learned truth that leaving the promotion of one's own achievements to others is a sure way to be relegated to historical oblivion, would directly address his personal role in the war. In publishing as with politics, Cox's outspoken desire to tell the uncompromised truth as he saw it led to the loss of previous friends and supporters like Emerson Opdyke and John Schofield. Schmiel notes the one exception in this regard being William T. Sherman, whose faults and mistakes were consistently glossed over by Cox. In general, Cox's extensive series of publications held their ground in the age's acrimonious "battle of the books." As his biographer maintains, Cox's writings are serious scholarship, their place in the footnotes and bibliographies of countless modern studies a testament to their lasting value. Citizen-General is an important biographical treatment of a man whose rather modest place in the popular imagination belies an enviable record of notable influences on 19th century America.


Jacob Dolson Cox

As Eugene Schmiel concludes in his biography of Jacob Dolson Cox, he was a Renaissance Man in the Gilded Age. Schmiel recounts his many pursuits as a Citizen-General. These include his life as a lawyer, politician, corporate executive, educator, author, and Civil War general.

Born in Montreal, Canada, Cox entered Oberlin College in 1847 and married the daughter of its president two years later. He then dropped out of its Theological Seminary to first become superintendent of Warren’s public schools and then a lawyer. He became a founder of Ohio’s Republican party. In his life he would interact with many of those notable Ohioans prominent in the Civil War – among them Chase, Garfield, Grant, Hayes, McClellan, Rosecrans, Sherman, and Stanton and Ohio’s wartime governors. In 1859 he was elected to the Ohio legislature.

With the outbreak of the Civil War George McClellan put Cox in charge of training volunteers at Camp Dennison. Cox soon followed McClellan to West Virginia in the successful campaign to secure its secession from Confederate Virginia. Cox enjoyed his first military successes there. In September, 1862. he would rise to Union military prominence when at South Mountain he succeeded a mortally wounded Jessie Reno as commander of the Ninth Corps of McClellan’s Army of the Potomac. He then played an important role at Antietam commanding that corps at the battle for Burnside Bridge and the failed attempt to destroy Lee’s army. After the battle, he became the target of criticism by General Hugh Ewing of the prominent Ohio Republican Ewing clan for his actions at Antietam.

He then was sent back to West Virginia and then to Ohio with Burnside after the latter’s disastrous defeat at Fredericksburg. He briefly was made commander of the 23rd Corps, only to be replaced by John Schofield under whom he would serve as a division commander in Sherman’s 1864 Atlanta Campaign. Cox distinguished himself by taking the Macon railroad, forcing John Bell Hood to abandon the city.

He then fought his most well-known battle as Schofield’s appointed defender of Franklin against Hood’s unexpected assault on November 30, 1864. While successful, he became embroiled in a long lasting dispute with fellow Ohioan Emerson Opdycke over the primary credit for repelling the bloody attack. Following the Battle of Nashville, Cox was sent to North Carolina to join Sherman’s war-ending Carolina Campaign.

Cox’s postwar life included several different phases. In 1865 he was elected governor of Ohio after publishing his controversial Oberlin letter advocating internal colonization of the freed slaves but opposing their being granted suffrage. After a short stint as a lawyer in Cincinnati, Grant appointed Cox Secretary of the Interior but Cox soon resigned, largely because of his conflict over civil service reform with Grant’s administration. His return to Cincinnati was short lived as he moved to Toledo to become head of a railroad. In 1877, he left that post for a seat in Congress after Hayes’ disputed election as President. Again disillusioned with Republican opposition to civil service reform, he served only one term. He returned to Cincinnati to become dean of the University of Cincinnati’s Law School (and to later also serve as its President). He left the university in 1897 and he and his wife returned to Oberlin to retire.

Over this post-political period Cox became a prolific historian, writing several books, his version of the Battle of Franklin, articles and reviews of many of the memoirs of other Civil War generals. He finished his own wartime memoir but died in 1900 before it was published.

From the publisher: The wrenching events of the Civil War transformed not only the United States but also the men unexpectedly called on to lead their fellow citizens in this first modern example of total war. Jacob Dolson Cox, a former divinity student with no formal military training, was among those who rose to the challenge. In a conflict in which “political generals” often proved less than competent, Cox, the consummate citizen general, emerged as one of the best commanders in the Union army.

During his school days at Oberlin College, no one could have predicted that the intellectual, reserved, and bookish Cox possessed what he called in his writings the “military aptitude” to lead men effectively in war. His military career included helping secure West Virginia for the Union jointly commanding the left wing of the Union army at the critical Battle of Antietam breaking the Confederate supply line and thereby precipitating the fall of Atlanta and holding the defensive line at the Battle of Franklin, a Union victory that effectively ended the Confederate threat in the West.

At a time when there were few professional schools other than West Point, the self-made man was the standard for success true to that mode, Cox fashioned himself into a Renaissance man. In each of his vocations and avocations—general, governor, cabinet secretary, university president, law school dean, railroad president, historian, and scientist—he was recognized as a leader. Cox’s greatest fame, however, came to him as the foremost participant historian of the Civil War. His accounts of the conflict are to this day cited by serious scholars and serve as a foundation for the interpretation of many aspects of the war.

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Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era

The wrenching events of the Civil War transformed not only the United States but also the men unexpectedly called on to lead their fellow citizens in this first modern example of total war. Jacob Dolson Cox, a former divinity student with no formal military training, was among those who rose to the challenge. In a conflict in which “political generals” often proved less than competent, Cox, the consummate citizen general, emerged as one of the best commanders in the Union army.

During his school days at Oberlin College, no one could have predicted that the intellectual, reserved, and bookish Cox possessed what he called in his writings the “military aptitude” to lead men effectively in war. His military career included helping secure West Virginia for the Union jointly commanding the left wing of the Union army at the critical Battle of Antietam breaking the Confederate supply line and thereby helping to precipitate the fall of Atlanta and holding the defensive line at the Battle of Franklin, a Union victory that effectively ended the Confederate threat in the West.

At a time when there were few professional schools other than West Point, the self-made man was the standard for success true to that mode, Cox fashioned himself into a Renaissance man. In each of his vocations and avocations—general, governor, cabinet secretary, university president, law school dean, railroad president, historian, and scientist—he was recognized as a leader. Cox’s greatest fame, however, came to him as the foremost participant historian of the Civil War. His accounts of the conflict are to this day cited by serious scholars and serve as a foundation for the interpretation of many aspects of the war.


High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02414.077 Author/Creator: Scammon, Eliakim Parker (1816-1894) Place Written: Fayetteville, West Virginia Type: Autograph note signed Date: 4 April 1862 Pagination: 1 p. 4 x 19.8 cm.

Colonel Scammon of the 23rd Ohio writes to General Cox commanding the division at Charleston to ask when the artillery horses would be coming. States they can move with the four Mountain Howitzers as far as Princeton without the horses. Asks where Colonel Ewing is. Year inferred from Scammon's rank as Colonel.

Copyright Notice The copyright law of the United States (title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specific conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

(646) 366-9666

Headquarters: 49 W. 45th Street 2nd Floor New York, NY 10036

Our Collection: 170 Central Park West New York, NY 10024 Located on the lower level of the New-York Historical Society


Watch the video: Jacob Coxs Descriptive Speech


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