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Professional Career of Joshua Giddings

Congressional Career

A member of the Whig Party, Giddings was elected to Ohio’s House of Representatives in 1826. In 1831 Giddings formed a partnership with Benjamin Wade. Over the next few years both men became leading figures the anti-slavery movement in Ohio.

​Famous in the history of the abolitionist movement, this office at one time served both Joshua R. Giddings and his friend and colleague, Benjamin F. Wade. Both were elected to Congress and spent their careers as outspoken opponents of slavery. Wade was elected president of the Senate during the Johnson administration and, as such, would have become president of the United States had one more senator voted for the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Giddings’ office still houses his desk, law library, and the first safe brought to Ashtabula County.

Slaves Commandeer The Creole

In November 1841 the 135 enslaved African Americans on board the ship Creole overpowered the crew, murdering one man, while sailing from Hampton Roads, Virginia, to New Orleans, Louisiana. Led by Madison Washington, they sailed the vessel to Nassau, Bahamas, where the British declared most of them free. This pamphlet’s author, William Channing, refutes the American claims that the property of U.S. slave owners should be protected in foreign ports.

​In the diplomatic controversy that followed, Ohio Congressman Joshua Giddings argued that once the ship was outside of U.S. territorial waters, the African Americans were entitled to their liberty and that any attempt to reenslave them would be unconstitutional. Censured by the House of Representatives, he resigned, but his constituents quickly reelected him and sent him back to Congress.

​Throughout his twenty years of service, Giddings used the floor of the U.S. Congress to debate the issues of slavery. The Giddings’ home in Jefferson, Ohio served as a station on the Underground Railroad before and after his election to Congress.

​In 1861 President Abraham Lincoln appointed Giddings as the U.S. consul general to Canada. Joshua Giddings died in Montreal, Canada, on 27th May, 1864.

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