John M. Pattison

From Ohio History Central

Ohio governor John M. Pattison was born near Owensville, Ohio, on June 13, 1847. His parents were William Pattison, proprietor of a country store, and Mary Duckwall Pattison. As a child, Pattison worked in his father's store as well as neighboring farms. Pattison was only sixteen years old when he joined the 153d Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the American Civil War. When the war ended, Pattison enrolled at Ohio Wesleyan University, ultimately graduating in 1869. Pattison had to work to pay his way through college. He taught school and hired himself out as an agricultural laborer in order to pay his tuition.

After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan, Pattison obtained a job in Bloomington, Illinois, where he worked for the Union Central Life Insurance Company. He was not happy in this position and moved to Cincinnati to read the law with lawyer Alfred Yaple. Pattison gained admittance to the Ohio bar in 1872, and he began to provide legal counsel to the Cincinnati and Marietta Railroad.

Pattison first entered politics in 1873, when the residents of Hamilton County elected him to the state legislature. After one term, Pattison decided to return to his law practice. He spent the next ten years as a partner in the law firm of Yaple, Moos, and Pattison. He became the Union Central Life Insurance Company's vice president in 1881 and its president in 1891. Under his management, the company prospered.

Pattison reluctantly reentered the political arena in 1890, when he was appointed to fulfill a vacant seat in the state senate. In 1891, Pattison was elected to the United States House of Representatives, but he was unsuccessful in obtaining reelection. Once his term was over, Pattison returned to Cincinnati, where he concentrated on his business interests.

In 1905, Ohio Democrats chose Pattison as their candidate for governor. He successfully defeated Republican governor Myron T. Herrick's attempts to gain reelection. Pattison was a strong supporter of Prohibition, a stance that garnered him staunch supporters in the campaign. He also spoke out against city bosses during the campaign and argued for municipal ownership of public utilities. During Pattison's short time as governor, the state legislature raised taxes on saloons, and some railroad reforms were instituted. Unfortunately, by the time that Pattison was inaugurated, his health had deteriorated. He was hospitalized in Cincinnati for a brief time before dying at his home in Milford, Ohio, on June 18, 1906. Lieutenant Governor Andrew L. Harris completed the rest of Pattison's term.

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