Joshua R. Giddings

Joshua R. Giddings

Joshua R. Giddings (6 Oct. 1795 – 27 May 1864) abolitionist politician and attorney, was born in western Pennsylvania but grew to prominence in Ohio. He was one of the earliest practitioners of law in Ohio’s Western Reserve, passing the bar in 1821. In 1831 Giddings formed a legal partnership with Benjamin Franklin Wade, which lasted until 1836 when Giddings retired from law as a very wealthy man. His financial stability rapidly deteriorated with the Panic of 1837, which led not only to financial struggles but physical and emotional problems as well, including bouts with depression and hypochondria. In 1837 Giddings returned to law, a much more broken man, and partnered with a young, bright lawyer named Flavel Sutliff. Giddings continued to have a relationship with the Sutliff family for many years. Giddings served as the Ashtabula county prosecutor, and later in 1837 was elected to U.S. House of Representatives to fill the remaining term of Elishah Whittlesey. He served additional terms from 1838 to 1842, when he resigned after being censored by the House for his outspoken abolitionist views related to the slave mutiny aboard the Creole. He was subsequently reelected to fill his own vacant seat and served in the House until 1859. During his time in Congress, Giddings began as a member of the Whig Party, then was a member of the Free Soil Party, next as a candidate of the Opposition Party, and finally as a Republican. During his time in Congress, Giddings was one of the most vocal supporters of abolition. Abraham Lincoln appointed Giddings minister and council general to Canada in March 1861, and he died there in 1864. James Brewer Steward, Joshua R. Giddings and the Tactics of Radical Politics (Cleveland, OH: Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1970).