Edward Tiffin, Governor, U.S. Senator

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Edward Tiffin

Birthdate: (63)
Birthplace: Carlisle, Cumbria, England, United Kingdom
Death: August 9, 1829 (63)
Chillicothe, Ross County, Ohio, United States
Place of Burial: Chillicothe, Ross County, Ohio
Immediate Family:

Son of Henry J. Tiffin, I and Mary Tiffin
Husband of Mary Worthington and Mary Tiffin
Father of Mary Porter Reynolds; Diathea Madison Tiffin; Rebecca Turner Comegys and Edward Parker Tiffin
Brother of Henry J. Tiffin and Mary Rector

Occupation: First Governor of Ohio, U.S. Senator
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Edward Tiffin, Governor, U.S. Senator


Edward Tiffin (June 19, 1766 – August 9, 1829) was a Democratic-Republican politician from Ohio, and first Governor of the state.

No man who has occupied the gubernatorial chair of Ohio has possessed a greater genius for the administration of public affairs than Edward Tiffin, its first governor. He appeared upon the scene of action in the Northwest Territory in its creative period, when the work of moulding the destinies of a future commonwealth was committed to the care of a very few men. Head and shoulders above them all stood Edward Tiffin. His official life displayed a better general average of statesmanship than that of any of his successors. ... His work in advancing and developing Ohio has not been equalled by any man in its history.

—Daniel J. Ryan, 1888


Sources indicate that he was born in Carlisle; however he may have been born in or near Workington — also in the then county of Cumberland, England. His family emigrated to Virginia, where, in 1789, he married Mary Worthington of Berkeley County, sister of future Governor of Ohio Thomas Worthington. She died, childless, in 1808. A year after their marriage, the Tiffins joined the Methodist church after hearing the preaching of Thomas Scott, who would be their neighbor and friend for many years. Bishop Asbury ordained Tiffin a deacon of the Methodist church November 19, 1792, authorizing him to preach. Tiffin and Worthington inherited sixteen slaves when Worthington's father died. The each decided to manumit their slaves and move to the Northwest Territory, where slavery was outlawed. Tiffin headed westward, along with Thomas Worthington, in 1798, settling in Chillicothe, Ohio.

The Northwest

Tiffin became the first, and for some time, only, doctor in Chillicothe, traveling on horseback, day and night, to treat the afflicted. He arrived with a letter addressed to the governor of the Northwest Territory, Arthur St. Clair from George Washington, recommending him for public office. Tiffin served as the Speaker of the Territorial House of Representatives from 1799–1801 and as president of the 1802 Constitutional Convention. He was a leader of the Chillicothe Junto, a group of Chillicothe Democratic-Republican politicians who brought about the admission of Ohio as a state in 1803 and largely controlled its politics for some years thereafter. Among his colleagues in the faction were Thomas Worthington and Nathaniel Massie.

Tiffin was the obvious choice for the governorship when Ohio was admitted to the Union. He was elected almost without opposition to a first term and re-elected by similarly overwhelming numbers two years later. Tiffin acted promptly to stop the Burr conspiracy in his second term.

Tiffin was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1806 and resigned the governorship in March 1807 to take his seat. He served only two years, however, resigning after the death of his wife. "He was ever faithful to the interests of the West and diligent in seeking the welfare of its inhabitants. He procured an appropriation of public money for the improvement of the Ohio River. He secured better and speedier transportation of the mails; a better and more rapid system for the surveys of western lands; and urged such modifications of the laws regarding sales of western land as would, to use his own words, 'guard the purchasers of them from unnecessary embarrassments and frequent ruin.' " He also voted for the expulsion of the other Ohio Senator, John Smith, who had been implicated in the Burr Conspiracy. He spent only a few months at home, however, before being elected to the Ohio House of Representatives, where he served as speaker from 1809–11. Tiffin re-married April 16, 1809 to Mary Porter, originally from Delaware, and then of Ross County. Tiffin became the first commissioner of the General Land Office, which managed allocations of Federal lands.

He quickly helped remove the Federal records from Washington before it was sacked during the War of 1812. In 1814, he became the Surveyor General of the Northwest Territory, exchanging positions with Josiah Meigs so that he might spend more time near his home in Chillicothe. Tiffin served in the post until a few weeks before his death.

Tiffin was buried in Grandview Cemetery, Chillicothe, Ross County, Ohio, USA.

The city of Tiffin in northwestern Ohio is named after him.

First Governor of the State of Ohio

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Edward Tiffin, Governor, U.S. Senator's Timeline

June 19, 1766
Carlisle, Cumbria, England, United Kingdom
January 28, 1810
Age 43
Ross County, Ohio, United States
March 4, 1814
Age 47
April 7, 1820
Age 53
Chillicothe, Ross County, Ohio, United States
November 9, 1822
Age 56
August 9, 1829
Age 63
Chillicothe, Ross County, Ohio, United States
Chillicothe, Ross County, Ohio