Mordecai Bartley

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Mordecai Bartley was the eighteenth governor of Ohio.

Bartley was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, on December 16, 1783. He grew up working on the family farm and attended school when he was not needed at home. Bartley married Elizabeth Welles in 1804. In 1809, he moved his family to Jefferson County, Ohio, where he continued to farm.

When the War of 1812 began, Bartley immediately became involved. He organized an infantry company and served as its captain. Later, General William Henry Harrison appointed Bartley adjutant of one of his regiments. Once the war ended, Bartley decided to move his family to a new farm near Mansfield, Ohio. In addition to farming, he also became involved in merchant activity in the area. Ultimately, the Bartley family moved into the community of Mansfield in 1834.

Bartley eventually became involved in politics. In 1817 and 1818, he served as a state senator, representing Licking, Knox, and Richland Counties. The state legislature appointed Bartley as register of the Virginia Military District's school lands in 1818, and he held the position until he resigned to reenter politics in 1822. In 1822, Bartley was elected as a member of the United States House of Representatives and represented his district from March 4, 1823 until March 3, 1831. Bartley did not seek reelection in 1830, and he retired from politics, returning to his agricultural and business pursuits in Mansfield.

In 1844, Bartley once again turned to politics. The Whig Party chose Bartley as their candidate for governor, and he defeated Democrat David Tod to become Ohio's eighteenth governor. He was inaugurated on December 3, 1844. Bartley succeeded his own son, Thomas Bartley, who became Ohio's seventeenth governor upon Wilson Shannon's resignation from the office.

Although Mordecai Bartley only served one term as governor, his administration was very active. The Whigs held the majority within the state legislature. As a result of this, they were able to pass the Kelley Bank Bill of 1845, which stabilized the state's banking system. They also reformed the state's taxation policy. Bartley also became known for his position on fugitive slave laws. Bartley not only opposed these laws but also advocated the repeal of Ohio laws that deprived African Americans of basic rights. Bartley was governor when the United States became involved in the U.S.-Mexican War. He personally opposed the war but felt that it was his duty as governor to provide Ohio troops for the war effort.

When his term as governor ended on December 12, 1846, Bartley declined to run for reelection. Instead, he returned to his home and his business interests in Mansfield. Bartley never again returned to politics, remaining in Mansfield until his death on October 10, 1870.

See Also


  1. Fess, Simeon D., ed. Ohio: A Four-Volume Reference Library on the History of a Great State. Chicago, IL: Lewis Publishing Company, 1937 
  2. The Governors of Ohio. Columbus: The Ohio History Connection, 1954 
  3. Graham, A.A. History of Richland County, Ohio. Mansfield, OH: A.A. Graham and Company, 1880.  
  4. Galbreath, Charles B. History of Ohio. Chicago, IL: The American Historical Society, Inc., 1925.
  5. Utter, William T. The Frontier State: 1803-1825. Columbus: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, 1942.