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Cox, Jacob Dolson

COX, JACOB DOLSON (1828-1900), American general, political leader and educationalist, was born on the 27th of October 1828 in Montreal, Canada. His father, a shipbuilder of German descent (Koch), and his mother, a descendant of William Brewster, were natives of New York City, where the boy grew up, studying law in an office in 1842-1844, and working in a broker's office in 1844-1846, and where, under the influence of Charles G. Finney (1792-1875), whose daughter he afterwards married, he prepared himself for the ministry. He graduated at Oberlin College in 1851, having in the meantime given up his theological studies in rebellion at Finney's dogmatism. In 1851-1853 he was superintendent of schools at Warren, Ohio; in 1853 was admitted to the Ohio bar, being at that time an anti-slavery Whig; and in 1859 was elected to the state senate, in which with Garfield and James Monroe (1821-1898) he formed the "Radical Triumvirate," Cox himself presenting a petition for a personal liberty law and urging woman's rights, especially larger property rights to married women. Appointed by Governor Dennison one of three brigadiers-general of militia in 1860, he eagerly undertook the study of tactics, strategy and military history. He rendered great assistance in raising troops for the Union service in 1861, enlisted himself in spite of poor health and a family of six small children, and in April was commissioned a brigadier-general, U.S.V. He took part in the West Virginia campaign of 1861, served in the Kanawha region, in supreme command after Rosecrans's relief in the spring, until August 1862, when his troops were ordered to join Burnside's 9th Corps in Virginia. After the death at his side of General Reno in the battle of South Mountain, and during Antietam, Cox commanded the corps, and at the close of the campaign (6th Oct. 1862) he was appointed major-general, U.S.V., but the appointment was not confirmed. In April-December 1863 he was head of the department of Ohio. In 1864 he took part in the Atlanta campaign under Sherman, as a divisional and subsequently corps-commander: at the battle of Franklin he commanded the 23rd Corps, and he served at Nashville also. He led an expedition following Sherman into the Carolinas and fought two successful actions with Bragg at Kinston, N.C. He was governor of Ohio in 1866-1867, and as such advocated the colonization of the freedmen in a restricted area, and sympathized with President Johnson's programme of Reconstruction and worked for a compromise between Johnson and his opponents, although he finally deserted Johnson. In 1868 he was chairman of the Republican national convention which nominated Grant. He was secretary of the interior in 1869-1870; opposed the confirmation of the treaty for the annexation of Santo Domingo, negotiated by O. E. Babcock and urged by President Grant; introduced the merit system in his department, and resigned in October 1870 because of pressure put on him by politicians piqued at his prohibition of campaign levies on his clerks, and because of the interference of Grant in favour of William McGarrahan's attempt by legal proceedings to obtain from Cox a patent to certain California mining lands. He took up legal practice in Cincinnati, became president in 1873, and until 1877 was receiver, of the Toledo & Wabash & Western. In 1877-1879 he was a representative in Congress. From 1881 to 1897 he was dean of the Cincinnati law school, and from 1885 to 1889 president of the University of Cincinnati. He died at Magnolia, Massachusetts, on the 4th of August 1900. A successful lawyer, and in his later years a prominent microscopist, who won a gold medal of honour for microphotography at the Antwerp Exposition of 1891, he is best known as one of the greatest "civilian" generals of the Civil War, and, with the possible exception of J. C. Ropes, the highest American authority of his time on military history, particularly the history of the American Civil War. He wrote Atlanta (New York, 1882) and The March to the Sea, Franklin and Nashville (New York, 1882), both in the series Campaigns of the Civil War; The Second Battle of Bull Run, as Connected with the Fitz-John Porter Case (Cincinnati, 1882); and the valuable Military Reminiscences of the Civil War (2 vols., New York, 1900) published posthumously.

See J. R. Ewing, Public Services of Jacob Dolson Cox (Washington, 1902), a Johns Hopkins University dissertation; and W. C. Cochran, "Early Life and Military Services of General Jacob Dolson Cox," in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 58 (Oberlin, Ohio, 1901).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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