Charles Reemelin was an important figure in Ohio politics during the middle part of the nineteenth century. Born in Germany in 1814, he had come to America in 1832. Reemelin lived in Dent, Ohio, near Cincinnati, and spent part of his life as a dry goods merchant. Politically, Reemelin was a member of the Democratic Party and fought for political and economic opportunity for his working-class neighbors. He served in the Ohio General Assembly from 1844 to 1846.
Reemelin is best remembered for his role in the Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1850-1851. He served as a delegate from Hamilton County. He opposed the convention's attempts to allow voters the right to approve legislative actions. Reemelin believed that the legislators should know their constituents' desires, and the voters did not need to have this check on the lawmakers' power. If necessary, the voters could choose not to reelect officials that did not fulfill their desires. Reemelin also argued that ordinary citizens had neither the time nor the money to watch their legislators dutifully.
In 1858, Governor Salmon P. Chase appointed Reemelin director of the Ohio Reform School. Created in 1856 and 1857, this institution provided the courts an alternative to sentencing juvenile offenders to the Ohio Penitentiary. Reemelin created a program based upon moral instruction and physical labor. He hoped to make the children productive members of society. The children lived in barracks that housed up to forty students.
During the American Civil War, Reemelin helped plan the state's defenses against a Southern invasion. Living next to Kentucky, he and his neighbors were fearful of a Southern attack. In 1861, Reemelin wrote a letter to the Ohio attorney general. He encouraged him to draft all Ohio men between the ages of eighteen and fifty to serve as a home guard. These men were to receive military training so that they would be ready to repel a Confederate attack. Reemelin estimated that his plan would create an armed force of 240,000 men. The State of Ohio did not enact Reemelin's plan.
After the war, Charles Reemelin continued to be involved in state and local affairs and wrote several books about politics and government. He died in 1891.
- Dee, Christine, ed. Ohio's War: The Civil War in Documents. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007.
- Reemelin, Charles. Life of Charles Reemelin: in German, Carl Gustav Rümelin, from 1814-1892. Cincinnati, OH: Weier & Daiker, 1892.
- 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.