Oliver P. Morton (1823-1877)
Best known as War Governor of Indiana during the Civil War, he was also the first Indiana-born man to become governor. His full name was Oliver Hazard Perry Throck Morton, and he was born in Salisbury, orphaned at an early age, and raised by his grandparents and aunts. He attended school in the Wayne County Seminary. After apprenticing for four years as a hatter with his elder brother, he attended Miami University in nearby Oxford, Ohio where he distinguished himself as an excellent debater. He did not graduate, but learned enough to know that he wanted to become a lawyer and began studying law in the office of John S. Newman in Centerville. He was a very successful lawyer, and five years after he was admitted to the bar, the governor appointed him a Circuit Judge.

Morton was a Democrat as a young man, but disliked the influence of the Southern states in that party. In 1856, Wayne County selected him to attend the first convention of the new Republican party in Pittsburgh. Later that year the Republicans nominated him as their candidate for Governor, but he was defeated. In 1860, he was elected Lieutenant Governor, but Governor Henry S. Lane left to serve as a U. S. Senator, so on January 16, 1861, Morton became Governor of Indiana.

Immediately after Lincoln's call for troops, Morton pledged and raised six thousand men, and never failed to meet all subsequent calls. At one point the legislature had failed to provide for bonuses and advance pay for newly inducted troops, and Morton personally raised $500,000 in a matter of days, $100,000 of that coming from Richmond native Mark E. Reeves, then a merchant in Cincinnati. Throughout the war he was known as "The Soldiers' Friend" for his material support of Indiana's troops, and remained one of the strongest supporters of the Federal government.

He was reelected in 1864 to a second term. Soon after he was afflicted by paralysis of the legs but continued to be active in office. In 1867 he was elected to complete Henry Lane's term as U.S. Senator, and elected again in 1873, but died before his term was complete. He is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

For more information see:

Biographical and Genealogical History of Wayne, Fayette, Union and Franklin Counties, Indiana.  Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1899: 91-93.  [Adult Non-Fiction  920.0772 B61a]

Foulke, William Dudley. Life of Oliver P. Morton. Indianapolis: The Bowen-Merrill Co., 1898. [Adult Biography B M891f]

Fox, Henry Clay.  Memoirs of Wayne County and the City of Richmond Indiana.  Madison, Wis.: Western Historical Assn., 1912:  183-198.  [Adult Non-Fiction  977.263 F79a]

French, William M., ed. Life, speeches, state papers and public services of Gov. Oliver P. Morton. Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach, & Baldwin, Printers, 1866, c1863.n [Adult Biography B M891fr]

Stampp, Kenneth M. Indiana Politics During the Civil War.Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1949. [Brown Room 977.2 S78]

Walker, Charles M. Sketch of the life, character, and public services of Oliver P. Morton. Indianapolis: Indianapolis Journal, 1878. [Brown Room B M891w]

Young, Andrew W.  History of Wayne County, Indiana.  Cincinnati, Oh.:  Robert Clarke & Co., 1872: 189-190.  [Adult Non-Fiction  977.263 I61a2 ]

Back to Biography Index

Return to the Local History Home

©Morrisson-Reeves Library, Richmond, Indiana U.S.A.

E-mail our Archivist archive@mrlinfo.org