William Allen (governor)

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William Allen
William Allen governor - Brady-Handy.jpg
31st Governor of Ohio
In office
January 12, 1874 – January 10, 1876
Lieutenant Alphonso Hart
Preceded by Edward F. Noyes
Succeeded by Rutherford B. Hayes
United States Senator
from Ohio
In office
March 4, 1837 – March 3, 1849
Preceded by Thomas Ewing
Succeeded by Salmon P. Chase
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 7th district
In office
March 4, 1833 – March 3, 1835
Preceded by Samuel Finley Vinton
Succeeded by William K. Bond
Personal details
Born December 18 or 27, 1803 (2022-12-18)
Edenton, North Carolina
Died July 11, 1879(1879-07-11) (aged 75)
Fruit Hill, Chillicothe, Ohio
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Effie McArthur

William Allen (December 18 or 27, 1803 – July 11, 1879) was a Democratic Representative, Senator and 31st Governor of Ohio.


Allen was born in Edenton, North Carolina and moved to Chillicothe, Ohio in 1819, after his parents' death. He was of Quaker ancestry.[1]

Allen and his sister Mary Granberry Allen lived in Chillicothe together. His sister married Reverend Pleasant Thurman, and their son, Allen G. Thurman, followed in his uncle's footsteps, becoming a lawyer and politician.

Allen attended Chillicothe Academy before studying law with Colonel Edward King. He was admitted to the bar in Ohio at age 21.[1] He began his career as a politician in the Democratic Party at a young age.[2] Allen supported "popular sovereignty" and the presidential candidacy of Lewis Cass, identifying himself as a "Peace Democrat" and opposing the U.S. Civil War.[1]


Fruit Hill (home of McArthur and Allen

Allen served as United States Representative from Ohio from 1833 to 1835, losing his bid for re-election. He served as United States Senator from Ohio from 1837 to 1849, losing a bid for a third term in 1848.

While in the Senate, Allen was one of a group of Western Democrat expansionists who asserted that the U.S. had a valid claim to the entire Oregon Country, which was an issue during the 1844 U.S. presidential election. He suggested that the United States should be prepared to go to war with the United Kingdom in order to annex the entire Oregon Country up to Russian-owned Alaska at latitude 54°40′N. This position ultimately produced the slogan "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!," coined in 1846 by opponents of such a policy (not, as popularly believed, a slogan in the 1844 Presidential campaign).[3]

Allen retired to his farm, "Fruit Hill", which had belonged to his father-in-law, and fellow Ohio Governor, Duncan McArthur,[2] near Chillicothe, Ohio. Allen did not return to public service for nearly a quarter century, until he served as Governor of Ohio from 1874 to 1876. He unsuccessfully sought a second two-year term in an 1875 election.

Allen was noted for his loud voice. A friend asked Senator Benjamin Tappan if a fellow Ohioan was still in Washington. Tappan replied "No, he left yesterday and is probably by this time in Cumberland, Maryland, but if you will go to Bill Allen and tell him to raise that window and call him he will come back."[4]


At the close of his administration, he retired to private life at Fruit Hill, where he died in 1879.[5] Allen is buried at Grandview Cemetery, Chillicothe.[6]


Allen County, Kansas is named for William Allen.[7]

In 1887, Ohio donated a statue of Allen to the National Statuary Hall Collection, which was exhibited in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol. The statue was sculpted by Charles H. Niehaus.[8]

In 2010, the Ohio Historical Society held a statewide poll on the suitability of Allen as a distinguished representative of the state. The poll found that many Ohioans objected to Allen. On August 26, the Ohio National Statuary Committee voted to replace Allen's statue with a statue of Ohio-born inventor Thomas A. Edison. The Ohio General Assembly agreed to replace the statue in part because "Allen’s pro-slavery position and outspoken criticism of President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War make him a poor representative for Ohio in the U.S. Capitol."[9] However, lack of funding for the Edison statue delayed replacement of the Allen statue.[10] The Edison statue was completed in spring 2015, and was to replace the Allen statue in the fall.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "William Allen". Ohio History Central. Retrieved August 5, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ryan, Daniel J (1888). "William Allen". A History of Ohio with Biographical Sketches of her Governors and the Ordinance of 1787. Columbus, Ohio: A H Smythe. pp. 190–191.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "William Allen". Architect of the Capital. Retrieved August 5, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Hunter, W.H. (1898). "The Pathfinders of Jefferson County". Ohio Archaeological and Historical Publications. VI: 226.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Renick, L W; Fullerton, M D; Nipgen, M P (1896). Che-le-co-the, glimpses of yesterday: a souvenir of the hundredth anniversary of the founding of Chillicothe, Ohio April 1896. Chillicothe. p. 76.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Grandview Cemetery". Grandview Cemetery. Retrieved July 29, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Profile for Allen County, Kansas, KS". ePodunk. Retrieved August 5, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. The National Statuary Hall Collection
  9. Legacy for Ohio
  10. "Inventive fundraising is called for Edison's statue." Columbus Dispatch, January 13, 2013, Page 2B
  11. "Ohioans can visit statue before it heads to D.C." Columbus Dispatch, May 20, 2015, Page 9B

External links