Photograph of a portrait of Charles Anderson. He became governor in 1865 after the death of John Brough and served until 1866.
Anderson was born near Louisville, Kentucky, on June 1, 1814. His father, Colonel Richard Clough Anderson, had fought in the American Revolution, serving as aide-de-camp to the Marquis de Lafayette. After the war ended, Colonel Anderson became a surveyor for the Virginia Military District and was based in Louisville. It was here that Charles Anderson was born at the family's home known as "Soldier's Retreat."
In 1829, Anderson came to Oxford, Ohio, to attend Miami University. He graduated in 1833 and returned to Louisville, where he began to study law in the office of Pirtle and Anderson. After gaining admittance to the bar in 1835, Anderson decided to move to Dayton, Ohio, to set up his own law practice. Within a short time, he met Eliza J. Brown, the daughter of a Dayton merchant. They were married in September 1835. In addition to his legal work, Anderson also was a farmer. He made a name for himself in the community and was elected to a term as Montgomery County's prosecuting attorney.
Anderson first became involved in state politics in 1844, when he was elected to the Ohio Senate as a Whig. Anderson advocated granting African Americans civil rights and argued, unsuccessfully, that Ohio should repeal its "Black Laws". In addition, he was involved in the construction of the new statehouse. He only served one term, traveling to Europe for several months after his service was over.
In 1848, Anderson moved his family to Cincinnati so that he could form a law partnership with Rufus King. Although his Cincinnati law practice was successful, around 1855 or 1856 Anderson chose to move back to Dayton. Anderson suffered from poor health at this time. Hoping that a change of climate would improve his health, Anderson moved to a farm that he had purchased in Texas near San Antonio in 1859.
By 1860, reports about the possibility of southern secession and civil war were frequent. Anderson became unpopular in Texas because of his vocal support for the Union. After the American Civil War began, Anderson feared for his family's safety. As he was attempting to make his way to Mexico with his family, he was arrested. He was taken back to San Antonio and imprisoned. He soon managed to escape to Mexico and was eventually able to return to Dayton.
President Abraham Lincoln sent Anderson to England to seek support for the Union war effort through public speaking. Anderson felt that this role did not contribute enough to the war and soon returned home to the United States. The governor of Ohio gave him a commission as a colonel in the Ninety-Third Ohio Volunteer Infantry in 1862. Anderson was severely wounded at the Battle of Stones River. He resigned his commission, believing that he would eventually die from his wounds. Instead, he eventually recovered. Rather than returning to military service, Anderson chose to enter politics once again. In 1863, he ran for lieutenant governor on the Union Party ticket. He was successful and served as lieutenant governor under Unionist governor John Brough.
When Brough died in office on August 29, 1865, Anderson became Ohio's twenty-seventh governor. Anderson's time as governor was short. He only served from August 29, 1865, until January 8, 1866, when Brough's term officially ended. Because the Civil War was over by this time, Anderson's time as governor was relatively uneventful.
Anderson chose not to run for political office after leaving his position as governor, returning instead to his law practice in Dayton. In 1870, he moved to Lyon County, Kentucky, in search of a quieter life. Charles Anderson died in Kuttawa, Kentucky, on September 2, 1895.
- Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of Rebellion, 1861-1866. Akron, OH: The Werner Company, 1893.
- Dee, Christine, ed. Ohio's War: The Civil War in Documents. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007.
- Reid, Whitelaw. Ohio in the War: Her Statesmen, Generals and Soldiers. Cincinnati, OH: Clarke, 1895.
- Roseboom, Eugene H. The Civil War Era: 1850-1873. Columbus: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, 1944.
- Smith, Dwight L. "Charles Anderson: 1865-1866." The Oh io Historical Society. Ohio Fundamental Documents Searchable Database. http://www.ohiohistory.org/onlinedoc/ohgovernment/governors/anderson.html.