The Old Governor and the New.
HON. WM. ALLEN took the oath of office as Governor of Ohio, on Monday last. After this, ex-Governor NOYES introduced the new Governor in the following courteous remarks:
GOVERNOR NOYES’ FAREWELL.
MY FELLOW-CITIZENS: I have the honor to introduce to you a gentleman long distinguished in the country’s history, and now called by the sovereign voice of the people to preside over the interests of our State; the Hon. William Allen, Governor of Ohio. [Great and prolonged applause.]
GOVERNOR ALLEN’S INAUGURAL.
Upon being thus introduced Governor Allen spoke as follows:
GENTLEMEN OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The events of October have made it my duty to appear before you, and in your presence to take the oath prescribed to the Chief Executive officer of the State.
I have taken the oath, and shall earnestly seek to perform the promises it exacts.
At the opening of your session my predecessor, in his annual message, submitted to you a general statement of the several Executive Departments of the Government. He likewise made such suggestions as seemed to him necessary and proper.
If at any time during your session the public interests should, in my judgment, require me to do so, I will submit to you some additional suggestions in the form of a special message.
The Constitutional Convention, now in session, will no doubt complete its important labors and submit the result for ratification by the people during the current year.
Should such ratification be obtained, your next session will be one of extraordinary labor. You will then be required to revise the whole body of the general laws of the State, and, by appropriate modifications, adjust those laws to the requirements of the new Constitution.
For these reasons you may deem it unnecessary to alter in any very material particulars the existing laws at your present session.
But there are some legislative acts which will, I believe, attract your immediate attention. These are the acts by which taxes are imposed and appropriations made. Even if you were now convened under ordinary circumstances, you would, I believe, feel it to be your duty to reduce existing taxes and appropriations; for it is evident to all men that the increase of taxes and public expenses has for some years past been much beyond the actual and rational necessities of the public service.
But, gentlemen, you are not now convened under ordinary circumstances.
A few months ago, that undefinable but tremendous power, called a money panic, imparted a violent shock to the whole industrial and property system of the country.
The well-considered plans and calculations of all men engaged in active business, or in the exertion of active labor, were suddenly and thoroughly deranged. In the universal business anarchy that ensued, the minds of men became more or less bewildered, so that few among them were able distinctly to see their way or know what to do or what to omit, even through the brief futurity of a single week. All values and all incomes were instantly and deeply depressed.
There was not a farmer, a manufacturer, a merchant, a mechanic, or a laborer, who did not feel that he was less able to meet his engagements, or pay his taxes, than he had been before. The distressful effect of this state of things was felt by all, but it was more grievously felt by the great body of the laboring people, because it touched them at the vital point of subsistence. Many of these men were unable to find that regular and remunerative employment so essential to their well-being, while some of them, especially in the large towns and cities, would have suffered for the want of the nutriment upon which the continuance of life depends, but for that prompt humanity and charity so characteristic of and so honorable to the whole American people.
It is in the midst of this condition of things that you are now convened; and it is manifestly the duty of the Legislature of the State to afford the only relief which it has the constitutional power to afford, by the reduction of the public taxes in proportion to the reduced ability of the people to pay.
Yet, this cannot be done without at the same time reducing the expenditures of the State Government down to the very last dollar compatible with the maintenance of the public credit of the State, and the efficient working of the State Government, under the ever-present sense of necessary economy. I do not mean that vague and mere verbal economy which public men are so ready to profess with regard to public expenditures — I mean that earnest and inexorable economy which proclaims its existence by accomplished facts.
In the prodigality of the past you will find abundant reason for frugality in the future.
I close these brief observations by returning my thanks to the people of the State for that expression of their good will and pleasure which brings me before you.
I thank you, gentlemen of the General Assembly, and our fellow-citizens here convened, for the respectful attention with which I have been heard; and I thank my predecessor for the courtesy and urbanity which he has extended toward me since my arrival in this city, when for the first time I had the pleasure of making his personal acquaintance.
The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Jan 17, 1874
ALLEN pays $525 per month for himself and family at the Neil House. — Democratic economy!
This may be true: but one thing is sure — the honest old man will pay it out of his own, not the people’s pocket! He recently sold $30,000 worth of cattle from his own farm, and has a lot of durhams and shorthorns left. We can assure our Republican friends that Governor Allen will never purchase a landaulet, silver-mounted harness and gold-headed whip out of the governor’s contingent fund. He was born in the “earlier and purer days of the republic. It is left to the WILLIAMES, the DELANOS and the parasites who are appointed by GRANT, the chief salary grabber, to indulge in carriages and horses at the expense of the taxpayers of the country. There is a day of reckoning coming for all public thieves.
— Plain Dealer.
The Ohio Democrat (New Philadelphia, Ohio) Jan 30, 1874
Governor Allen has returned all Railroad passes sent to him, saying that he does not think it comports with his position to accept favors of that kind.
Cambridge Jeffersonian (Cambridge, Ohio) Feb 26, 1874
One of the first official acts of Governor Allen was to pardon William Graham, a notorious rebel sympathizer of Summit county, who was serving out a life sentence for the murder of two loyal citizens during the war. This act stamps the real character and sympathies of Gov. Allen, and is alike an insult to the dead and the living — the hero in his grave and the loyal people of the State.
The Coshocton Age (Coshocton, Ohio) Mar 6, 1874
Democratic State Convention.
Everything Harmonious, and a General Good Feeling.
SPEECH OF GOVERNOR ALLEN
He said a speech now would be out of order. He stood before them as a servant of the Democracy always, when unobstructed, points to truth, honor and liberty of all men. He regarded the people as every thing and the agent as nothing except as he executes their will. He had served the people for sixteen years, and left their service with his hands as clean as when he entered their service, and when he came to die, he would rather have inscribed on his tombstone:
“Here lies and honest man, than to have millions of stolen treasures to leave to his children. He knew not that he should serve the people more than one year. A voice, “Yes, you will.” Another voice, “You will be the next President,” immense cheering. Well, I do not seek or decline any position the people may call me to fill. I again thank you. Continued cheering and three hearty cheers “for William Allen, the next President of the United States.”
Allen County Democrat (Lima, Ohio) Sep 3, 1874
LAST year the Radicals in Ohio called upon William Allen to “rise up,” and now they are sorry for it. The old gentleman refuses to take his seat, but stands up 17,000 strong.
The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Oct 31, 1874
“Rise Up” William Allen.
The Democratic organs which have been so distressed over the intemperate habits of President Grant, should give their immediate and prayerful attention to His Excellency, Roaring William Allen, Governor of Ohio. The Kenton Republican says:
Governor Allen was very sick when he left here last Saturday night, and had to be carried from the barouche into the sleeping car. His stomach was so overloaded with mean whisky that he was as helpless as a child. and yet the Democracy speak of this man as their prospective candidate for the Presidency.
A representative man of the party in every sense of the word!
This is melancholy. The people of Ohio have known for a year past that His Excellency keeps something “thirteen years old” in his cellar, but they did not suppose that he ever had to be helped to his carriage on public occasions. William will find it difficult to “rise up” with a record like this against him.
The Coshocton Age (Coshocton, Ohio) Nov 20, 1874
In his speech on the 8th inst. Governor Allen said:
‘There it is, draped in black. A State has disappeared. Louisiana as a sovereign State of this Union has no existence. This night a part of the standing army paid by your taxes has crushed it out of existence.’
That is more of the old rebel talk about a ‘Sovereign State.’ Gov. Allen is much troubled about the taxes of the people. While upon this subject we wish to call his attention to a matter in the annual report of the Auditor of State, page 228. It reads thus:
INAUGURATION OF GOV. ALLEN. — 1874.
Feb. 21, William Wall, carriage hire …$100.00
Feb. 24, Frank Hemmersbach, service of band …75.00
March 10, Charles Huston, hairbrushes, perfumery, soap, combs and shoe-blacking …24.00
April 10, James Naughton, 75 years of crash at 12 1/2 cents per yard …9.38
Total … $217.88
And it costs the tax-payers of the State two hundred and seventeen dollars and eighty-eight cents to get one old Democrat scrubbed up and perfumed so as to appear decent when presented to the public. But, is not 75 years of crash rather a long towel to only one of the unwashed Democracy? To the rescue, fellow-citizens! Our liberties are in danger! Suppose the Democratic Legislature should pass a law to buy soap, fine combs and 75 yards of crash for every unwashed Democrat in the State.
— Holmes County Republican.
The Coshocton Age (Coshocton, Ohio) Feb 5, 1875
It Makes a Difference Whose Ox is Gored.
Governor Allen and Senator Thurman were called out one night last week in Columbus, to help celebrate the election of a Democratic Mayor in that city, by three hundred less than the usual majority. The Governor was terribly severe on corruptionists, and had a good deal to say about the corruption existing at Washington, but somehow he forgot to say anything about that lately brought to light in the Ohio Legislature, and which his party friends sought diligently to cover up.
Your average Democrat is fierce on Republican scoundrels, but when it comes to exposing and punishing those of his own party, he generally declines. It strikes us that an Ohio Democrat, at this time, must have a good deal of cheek to talk about corruption in others.
Let him look at the last Ohio Legislature and then keep silent.
The Coshocton Age (Coshocton, Ohio) Apr 30, 1875
Here is a strategy! Down in Dark county there lives a man named William Allen, a long, lank, sullen, dyspeptic, tobacco-chewing man, who was once a Democrat, who served a couple of terms in Congress — one as a Democrat and another as a Republican. He is a lawyer, has been a Judge, and has boxed the political compass thoroughly. The only thing good about him is his name!
Now the Republicans think if they could only put up this William Allen against our “Old Bill,” they would make a point. We don’t think it would amount to much, though it would lead to the confusion which used to attend the fight between “Old Doctor Jacob Townsend Sarsaparilla, and that of “Young Doctor Jacob Townsend.” Ours is the original William, and having once “risen,” all the namesakes and Radicals in the State can’t keep him from being re-elected.
Hurrah for the original Bill! No counterfeit bills taken by the people of Ohio.
— Plain Dealer.
Allen County Democrat (Lima, ohio) May 13, 1875
What kind of whisky do they drink at Coshocton? Is it what is termed ‘rifled,’ ‘rot-gut’ or the kind that kills around the corner?
The intelligent editor of the Coshocton Democrat in giving a three column history of old Bill Allen, telling how he was born away back in the misty past, just before the dawn of history in the old North State, which accounts for the various reports as to his age. After discoursing like a love-sick maiden on the old ‘chap’s’ love scrapes, he launches out on his political career and says, ‘Allen accepted the challenge of the Whigs to debate with Thomas Ewing. In the very first debate, Allen, in the opinion of the audience, had much the best of it, and so firm did the conviction become, that Ewing was withdrawn after the second joint discussion.’ Great Heaven! to compare William Allen with, perhaps, the greatest man intellectually this State ever produced! It would be just as appropriate to compare the editor of the Coshocton Democrat to a jackass and so enrage the animal that he would kick the day lights out of you for it.
Again, this editor would have us believe that old ‘Uncle William’ discussed philosophy with Socrates, paraded the streets of old Athens arm in arm with Plato and Aristotle, for, he says: ‘Gov. Allen is a great historian, is deeply versed in philosophy and the sciences, and is better acquainted with rare books than almost any scholar any one ever met.’ No wonder the old man was acquainted with rare books! It is supposed those things existed before the deluge when the Governor was a boy, but the idea that the old Governor knows anything about philosophy and the sciences!
Great Jupiter! Hurl your thunder-bolts upon the devoted head of that Editor! But the poor fellow knows not what he is talking about. Too much honor had turned his head. ‘Old Uncle William,’ philosopher and scientist! Shades of the old philosophers! smite that man! Old Bill Allen a philosopher! In the next number that fellow will be claiming that the devil is a Saint, because the old thief always, and under all circumstances, marches under the Democratic banner.
Gentlemen of Coshocton take charge of that man. Don’t permit him to run at large while the people are paying so much money to make such ‘chaps’ comfortable at the Asylum for idiots.
— Zanesville Courier.
The Coshocton Age (Coshocton, Ohio) Jul 15, 1875
:[From the Plain Dealer.
We are Coming, WILLIAM ALLEN.
We are coming, William Allen,
From the meadow and the hill.
We are coming from the workshops,
From the furnace and the mill;
‘Tis the steady tramp of the thousands
That gives that steady roar,
That rolls from the Ohio
To Lake Erie’s sandy shore.
We are coming, William Allen,
O’er the river and the rill,
Over bog and over meadow,
Through the valley down the hill;
From the filed and from the forest,
From the mountain and the glen.
Blow your fog horn, William Allen,
Equal rights for equal men.
We are coming, William Allen,
From the Factory and mine;
For labor’s great tin-pail brigade
Is wheeling into line;
And massed in solid columns,
Armed with freemen’s ballots, we
Are coming, William Allen,
Lead us on to victory.
Allen County Democrat (Lima, Ohio) Sep 16, 1875
THE Democratic orators have a good deal of demagogue clap-trap to offer to the “poor man,” and a good deal to say about bloated bondholders and aristocratic land holders of great farms that the poor man ought to own a portion of, &c., &c. Governor ALLEN is one of the latter and owns a fourteen hundred acre farm, but he don’t say a word about giving or even selling a few acres for a garden spot to a poor man. His pure sympathy don’t take just that turn, although he is very much in need of more votes than he will get.
He proposes to fool them to vote for him by promising them “more money” — somebody elses money — if they can get it, after he gets their votes.
And here is Dr. BLACKBURN who his friend NICHOLAS SCHOTT says, has 400 acres, — does he propose to divide it with the “poor men” of Jackson township? NICHOLAS says “he is a little on the stingy order,” which seems to answer the question. The demagogues who have so much gushing interest for the poor man are not all fools.
The Coshocton Age (Coshocton, Ohio) Oct 7, 1875
IN a speech which Governor Allen made at Washington O.H. some time last Fall, there occurs this passage:
“The Democrats came into office last January after our political opponents had held control of the State of Ohio for nearly twenty years, but we could not find, after the most careful examination, a single case of official corruption.”
And this is more than he could have truthfully said of his own party before they had been in power as many months.
The Athens Messenger (Athens, Ohio) Oct 7, 1875
ALEXANDER DURANTY & Co., merchants of Liverpool, England, have failed for two million dollars, and the Democrat thinks it is all because BILL ALLEN and SAM CARY and the rag-baby were not elected last fall.
The Coshocton Age (Coshocton, Ohio) Apr 20, 1876
IN the midst of the terrible slaughter of Democratic candidates for the Presidency, on account of some crooked transactions in money, or Congressional lobby jobs, the Democrat favors old BILL ALLEN as the only one not tainted, or sound on the rag-baby question. Yet old BILL has not the ghost of a chance.
The Coshocton Age (Coshocton, Ohio) Apr 27, 1876
OLD Governor “Bill” Allen, the warmest-hearted, most genial, generous and yet firmest and truest of Democrats, has retired from politics and the world. He leaves no better man behind him.
— Memphis Appeal.
The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) May 19, 1877
Find-A-Grave memorial LINK
SUDDEN DEATH OF EX-GOVERNOR, WILLIAM ALLEN.
Special to the Columbus Dispatch.]
CHILLICOTHE, July 11, 1879
The community was startled this morning by the report of the sudden death of ex Governor William Allen. He had been in town on Wednesday, chatting with old acquaintances, apparently in the best of health and spirits. Yesterday he had a slight chill, after which he took medicine and a warm bath. But apparently there was nothing in that illness to cause alarm.
He sat up late on his porch last evening, but after retiring was restless and arose, requesting Dr. and Mrs. Scott — his son in-law and daughter — to assist him, and they led him to a chair, into which he
The cause of his death is ascertained to have been heart disease, although he had never suffered from any premonitory symptoms.
Governor Allen retained his intellectual vigor to the last. At the time of his death he was in the seventy-fourth year of his age. From sixteen to eighteen years of that period have been spent in public life — as a member of Congress, Senator of the United States, and Governor of Ohio. He was universally respected and beloved by all who knew him here, and his loss will be sincerely regretted by his neighbors and the poor who his hand often fed.
The date of the funeral is not yet fixed, but probably will take place Sunday; as it is feared the body cannot be preserved until Monday, when the family desire the interment to take place. A number of distinguished men and old friends of the Governor are expected to be in attendance at the obsequies.
The Marion Star (Marion, Ohio) Jul 12, 1879
DEATH OF EX-GOV. WM. ALLEN.
The Venerable Patriot and Statesman Breathed his Last Yesterday Morning.
THE telegraph brought the painful intelligence to this city yesterday forenoon of the death, at his home in Ross county, at an early hour yesterday morning, of Hon. WM. ALLEN, ex-Congressman, ex-Senator and ex-Governor of Ohio, in his 73d year. Gov. ALLEN was born in North Carolina. In his boyhood days he walked from his native State, to Chillicothe, Ross county, where he studied law. In 1830 he was elected to Congress. In 1836 he was elected to the United States Senate, and re-elected in 1842, serving with CLAY, WESBSTER and BENTON with equal prominence, as one of the intellectual giants of that day. In 1873, after a voluntary retirement of 25 years, he was elected Governor of Ohio, but was defeated in 1875, after one of the most memorable campaigns ever known in the State.
Governor ALLEN was a man of the most undisputed honesty, broad and comprehensive in his views and fearless and able in defending them. He was the choice of the Ohio delegation in the St. Louis Convention in 1876 for President. Through a long and eventful public life, no suspicion of wrong doing was ever charged by his political adversaries, and no other man was held in such high esteem by his party friends.
He was a man of vast information upon all questions of a scientific, literary and political nature. He was never an idler, but in his rural home on Fruit Hill he prosecuted his researches as zealously in his latter years as he did when a student at law.
He was a friend of the oppressed, and his speeches in the campaign of 1875, were full of the spirit of Democracy which stood for the “man against the dollar.”
His Democracy partook of the fervor of religious zeal. He was eloquent in paying it the highest tribute which has ever been paid. In accepting the nomination for Governor in 1873 he said of the Democracy “upon its success and that alone rests the prosperity, liberty and happiness of the American people.”
In a speech delivered at Lancaster, Ohio, on the 19th of August, 1837, Senator Allen then rising rapidly to fame, spoke these memorable words:
“Democracy is a sentiment not to be appalled, corrupted or compromised. It knows no baseness; it cowers to no danger; it oppresses no weakness. Fearless, generous and humane, it rebukes the arrogant, cherishes honor and sympathises with the humble. It asks nothing but what it commands. Destructive only of depotism, it is the sole conservator of liberty, labor and property. It is the sentiment of freedom, of equal rights, of equal obligations. It is the law of nature pervading the law of the land.”
We have this speech before us in a copy of the Chillicothe Advertiser, of September 9th, 1837, making eleven columns of that paper. It was a masterly effort and devoted principally to the perils which menaced the rights of the people from the United States Banks and delineated the baleful influence of an organized banking monopoly.
Gov. ALLEN leave but one child, Mrs. Dr. SCOTT, who resides at the old homestead. The particulars of his death did not accompany the meagre announcement by telegraph, and we reserve until next week a more extended notice of this great and good man, who in the public and private station was a man of unimpeachable probity, enlarged patriotism, an intellectual giant, a warm hearted citizen and a noble man. Ohio has lamented the death of many of her statesmen, but the death of none that have gone before will be more keenly regretted than the death of the philosopher, patriot, and statesman, WILLIAM ALLEN.
The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Jul 12, 1879
Sketches of His Life and Public Services.
HON. WM. ALLEN was born in Edenton, Chowan county, North Carolina, on the 5th of January, 1807. He was, by the death of both father and mother, left an orphan in his infancy. His parents were poor. In his boyhood days there were no common schools in North Carolina, nor in Virginia, whither he early removed, and he never attended any school of any kind, except a private infant school for a short time, until he came, at the age of sixteen, to Chillicothe, Ohio. He, however, early manage to acquire the rudiments of learning; and that was the golden age of public speaking, and the era of oratory and orators in this country. He was enthused and carried away with a passion for listening to public addresses, upon every occasion and upon any subject, marking the manner and treasuring up the words of the various speakers he listened to — and he would go far to get the opportunity to hear. He soon secured a prize to him more precious than silver and gold — a pocket copy of Walker’s Dictionary, which he consulted for the pronunciation and meaning of every word that he heard and did not understand. This companion always accompanied him to public meetings, all of which he sought and attended as a deeply interested hearer.
Several of the years of his boyhood life were spent at Lynchburg, Virginia, where he supported himself working as a saddler’s apprentice. When he was sixteen years old, he collected together his worldly goods, tied them in a handkerchief, and set out on foot, walking every step of the way from Lynchburg, Virginia, to Chillicothe, where he found his sister, Mrs. Pleasant Thurman, the mother of Hon. Allen G. Thurman, who was then a small boy, whom he had never seen before.
After taking up his residence at Chillicothe, where he has ever since resided, (except when absent in the public services) young Allen was, by his sister, placed in the Old Chillicothe Academy, where he received his only instruction from a teacher. She herself selected and supervised his general reading. In this he derived the greatest advantage. The books she placed in his hands were the works of the best and most advanced writers and thinkers, by the aid of which his thoughts were impelled in the right direction, and his mental development became true and comprehensive.
Struggling on, and maintaining himself as best as he could, Allen entered, as law student, the office of Edward King, father of Hon. Rufus King, President of the late Ohio Constitutional Convention, and the most gifted son of the great Rufus King of Revolutionary memory and fame. When he came to the bar and while he continued to practice, forensic power, the ability and art of addressing a jury successfully, was indispensable to the lawyer’s success. This Allen possessed and assiduously cultivated, rather than the learning of cases, and technical rules, and pure legal habits of thought and statement, which made a counselor influential with the court.
While it is true that William Allen will be chiefly remembered for his services in the Legislature and executive departments of the government, it is certain that he was a learned and able lawyer. His name appears frequently in the earlier volumes of the Ohio Reports, and in some instances his arguments were abstracted by the reporter, Mr. Charles Hammond. They show conclusively that he was not only thoroughly familiar with the principles of the common law, but clearly understood the limitations on governmental power, State and Federal.
Political activity, a widespread reputation as a legal power in the judicial forum before a jury, and a fine military figure and bearing, joined to a voice of command, fixed him in the public eye as one deserving of political promotion. He had not long to wait. His Congressional district was strongly Whig. Wm. Key, Bond? and Richard Douglass so hotly contested for the place in that party that a “split” was produced, to heal which Governor Duncan McArthur was induced to decline a gubernatorial re-election, and to become a candidate, they both withdrew in his favor. Against him Wm. Allen was put in nomination by the Democracy, to make what was deemed a hopeless race. With a determination to succeed, he spoke everywhere, ably and effectively, mapped out every path and by road in the district, and visited nearly every voter at home, thus insuring the full vote of his party at the polls, and the accession of many converts.
During this campaign he met and overcame in debate William Sumpter Murphy, the grandson of the Revolutionary General Sumpter, and at that time recognized as the first orator in Ohio, who had been put forward as another Democratic candidate to divide with Allen the Democratic vote. The power he displayed in this canvass was fully exemplified in Allen at a later period, when he accepted the challenge of the Whigs to debate with Thomas Ewing.
At the end of that memorable contest for a seat in Congress, William Allen was declared elected by one vote, when he had scarce attained the Constitutional age to occupy it. Five hundred men are yet living who claim the honor of having, by lucky accident, cast that vote. Although the youngest member, he at once took rank among the foremost men in the House of the 23d Congress, and took a leading part in its most important discussions.
An election for United States Senator was soon to occur, and the two parties struggled for a majority in the General Assembly. Ross county was Whig; but the Democrats nominated a strong candidate for Representative. Allen labored for his election, and he was elected by one vote, which gave the Democrats a small majority in the Legislature. There were a number of candidates for Senator. An Eighth of January supper, with speeches, came off, at which all the candidates were present and delivered addresses. That of William Allen took the Assembly by storm, and he was nominated and elected over Thos. Ewing, who was then in the Senate. He reached Washington on the evening of March 3, 1837, to witness the inauguration of Presidnet Van Buren, and to take his seat in the Senate the next day. Late at night he went to the White House, where he was cordially welcomed and agreeably entertained by Andrew Jackson, the retiring President, who was his fast friend and ardent admirer. Before the end of his first term, he was re-elected by a very handsome majority; and he remained in the United States Senate until the 4th of March, 1849, being then, at his retirement, one of the youngest members of that body.
During the twelve eventful years that he represented the State of Ohio in Senate of the United States, he took a prominent part in all the discussions upon the great questions that Congress had to deal with. Most of the time, and until he voluntarily retired, he was Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, being entitled to that elevated position on account of his eminent ability. He had just reached the meridian of his splendid powers. Tall, of a majestic and commanding figure, with a magnificent voice, an opulence of diction seldom equalled, a vigorous and bold imagination, with much fervor of feeling and graceful and dignified action withal, he combined all the qualities of a great orator in that memorable era when the Senate was full of great orators — in the day of its greatest intellectual magnificence. And in all the years he was there he never uttered a word nor gave a vote that he had occasion to recall or change.
While Governor Allen was a member of the United States Senate he married Mrs. Effie McArthur Coons, the beautiful and accomplished daughter of General Duncan McArthur — his early, true and only love. She chose him from among a host of distinguished suitors from several States. She inherited the old homestead and farm, where Allen, having added many acres to the latter, with his daughter, Mrs. Scott, her husband and their children and his grandchildren resided, until the summons came.
Mrs. Allen died shortly after the birth of their daughter and only child, Mrs. Scott. In health and sickness, William Allen was a most devoted and affectionate husband; and, after the death of his wife, he rode on horseback with the remains from Washington City to Chillicothe. He never thought of marrying afterward; and it is almost certain that if he had not married her, his only love, he never would have married at all.
Governor Allen always possessed unyielding integrity, and ever strongly set his face against corruption and extravagance in every form. When he entered public life, he had the Postmaster General certify in miles the shortest mail route between Chillicothe and Washington City, and always drew pay for mileage according to that certificate. He refused constructive mileage, and after his retirement from the Senate, the Whig Congressman from his district offered to procure and forward to him $6,000 due him on that score; but he would receive none of it. William Allen and John A. Dix alone refused it.
No man was ever more true and faithful in his friendships than William Allen; and few public men have gone as far as he to maintain a straightforward consistency in this respect. He virtually declined the Presidency of the United States, rather than seem to be unfaithful to an illustrious statesman whom he loved and supported.
After he retirement from public life at Washington, Governor Allen greatly improved by study. He has since been a more profound man than he was at any time during his career in the Senate. He was a great historian, was deeply versed in philosophy and the sciences, and was better acquainted with rare books than almost any scholar one can meet. His home was the home of hospitality, and to visit him there was to receive a hearty welcome and a rare intellectual treat. His farm is not surpassed in any respect by any other farm in the magnificent valley of the Scioto; and, as a thrifty and successful farmer, no man in the State was his superior.
In August, 1873, William Allen consented to take the Democratic nomination for Governor of Ohio. He became satisfied that it was a duty he owed his party, and the people without distinction of party; and when it became a public duty, he promptly accepted the situation, and came forth from his retirement to make what nearly everybody, but himself and the writer and compiler of this sketch, deemed a hopeless race. He made an able and effective canvass, and was elected by nearly one thousand majority, being the only candidate on his ticket who was successful.
He was inaugurated Governor on the 12th of January, 1874, in the presence of the largest assemblage of people that was ever before at the capital of Ohio. His inaugural address was everywhere regarded as a magnificent State paper. The New York Tribune said it “was a very model of a public document for compactness and brevity, devoted to a single topic — the necessity of reducing taxes and enforcing the most rigid economy in all matters of State expenditure.” Upon this point the Governor said:
“I do not mean that vague and mere verbal economy which public men are so ready to profess with regard to public expenditures — I mean that earnest and inexorable economy which proclaims its existence by accomplished facts.”
“In the prodigality of the past, you will find abundant reason for frugality in the future.”
His appointments, and all other acts of his administration gave general satisfaction, and were commended by the people without distinction of party. His inauguration was the herald of a new era — “the era of good feeling” in Ohio. Colonel Forney, in his Philadelphia Press, but stated a universally recognized truth, when he said: “Governor Allen, of Ohio, is winning golden opinions from all parties by the excellence of his administration of the affairs of the State.”
At the close of his administration he again returned to private life and to “Fruit Hill,” his beautiful home, with the firm determination that he would never give them up again for public position.
The Democratic State Convention that was held the following summer (1876) in the city of Cincinnati, endorsed William Allen as the choice of the Democracy of Ohio for the Presidency, and instructed the delegation from this State to support him in the then approaching Democratic National Convention. He esteemed that endorsement, by that grand Convention, as the highest compliment he had ever received. When the writer hereof informed him what the Convention had done, he replied: “I am content. I can receive no higher honor than that.”
William Allen was the last survivor of an illustrious line of statesmen. He, too, is gone. It is hard to realize it “His sun of light is set forever. No twilight obscured its setting.” A great man is dead, and the people of a great State and a great Nation will manifest in a thousand ways their sorrowing sympathy. His memory and the memory of his deeds “will outlive eulogies and survive monuments.”
The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Jul 19, 1879
Ohio History Central has a biographical sketch HERE.