Samuel Medary was a nineteenth century Ohio journalist and political leader.
Samuel Medary was born on February 25, 1801, in Pennsylvania. He had a limited formal education but still was able to find work as a schoolteacher. In 1820, he moved his parents to Maryland. In 1825, he left home and came to Batavia, Ohio. There he opened a school, reputedly with only twenty-five cents to his name.
In Batavia, Medary began a newspaper in 1828. In his newspaper, the Ohio Sun, Medary encouraged his readers to support Andrew Jackson and the Democratic Party. In 1834, Medary was elected to the Ohio legislature and then, in 1836, to the Ohio Senate. Upon completion of his senate term, Medary moved to Columbus, where he began publishing the Ohio Statesman in 1838. Medary used this newspaper to endorse the Democratic Party's candidates and to build support for its policies. Medary quickly became an important spokesperson for the Democratic Party in Ohio. He served as the editor of the Ohio Statesman until 1857.
While Medary was devoted to the Democratic Party, he never again sought an elected office in Ohio after his term in the Ohio Senate. However, he did remain active in politics. In 1844, he attended the Democratic National Convention as head of the Ohio delegation. At the convention, Medary nominated James K. Polk as the party's candidate. After winning the presidency, Polk offered to make Medary the United States ambassador to Chile. Medary refused the position. In 1856, he nominated his close friend Stephen Douglas as the Democratic Party's candidate for the presidency, but James Buchanan eventually received the party's nomination. After the election, President Buchanan appointed Medary governor of the Minnesota Territory and then governor of the Kansas Territory.
Many Democrats, especially those living in the South, believed that slavery should be legal everywhere. Medary and many of his fellow Democrats in the North believed that slavery should only expand if the people living in an area wanted the institution. It is unclear whether or not Medary believed that slavery was a moral institution. He did strongly oppose the Civil War. He firmly believed that the North could not defeat the South militarily. He used a newspaper called The Crisis to criticize President Abraham Lincoln and the war effort. During the war, Medary was a Peace Democrat and believed that the conflict should be ended immediately. He strongly supported Clement Vallandigham as the Democratic candidate for governor in 1863. Vallandigham was living in exile in the South and then in Canada. The Union military had forcibly removed him from Ohio for denouncing the war. Despite Medary's efforts, Vallandigham lost the election. Medary continued to criticize the Union war effort and to call for an end to the conflict. Many people disagreed with his views. His opponents included mob of soldiers from Camp Chase who destroyed his newspaper office in 1863. Medary died on November 7, 1864.
- Dee, Christine, ed. Ohio's War: The Civil War in Documents. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007.
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- Weber, Jennifer L. Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln's Opponents in the North. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006.