About James Finlay
James Findlay (October 12, 1770 – December 28, 1835) was a soldier, political official, and merchant who for decades was one of the leading citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Findlay was born in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, to Samuel Findlay and Jane Smith. He had two older brothers, John Findlay and William Findlay. After his father suffered financial setbacks, Findlay moved to the Northwest Territory in 1793 with his wife Jane Irwin (1769–1851). There, in partnership with John Smith, he soon became one of the leading merchants and most influential men in the young city of Cincinnati. He was elected to the legislature of the Northwest Territory in 1798, and in 1802 he became the United States Marshal for the Ohio Territory.
In 1800 Findlay received his most influential appointment, that of receiver of public money at the Cincinnati Public Land Office, which made him the region's most visible official of the federal government and a central figure in the business and politics of Cincinnati. In 1805 and 1806, he served as mayor of Cincinnati, a position he would return to in 1810 and 1811. Findlay also played an active role in the Ohio militia, attaining the rank of brigadier general.
In 1806 and 1807 Findlay helped to quash the Burr conspiracy, though that meant turning on his partner Smith, an alleged conspirator. In the War of 1812, Findlay was commissioned a colonel in the United States Army, and commanded the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He marched north with General William Hull, and opposed Hull's disastrous decision to surrender Detroit. Afterwards, Findlay was promoted to major general in the Ohio militia, and built Fort Findlay at the site of present-day Findlay, Ohio.
He was elected to the Nineteenth and Twentieth Congresses and elected as a Jacksonian Democrat to the Twenty-first and Twenty-second Congresses (March 4, 1825 – March 3, 1833). Findlay eventually broke with the Jackson Democrats, and was defeated for reelection in 1832, and as an Anti-Jacksonian lost a bid for Governor of Ohio in 1834.
He died in Cincinnati and was buried at Spring Grove Cemetery.
The Findlay Market, his most famous legacy, is built on land donated to Cincinnati by the estate of General Findlay and Jane Irwin Findlay.