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James Middleton Cox

Gov. James Middleton Cox

  • January 13, 1913 - January 11, 1915
    January 8, 1917 - January 10, 1921
  • Democratic
  • March 31, 1870
  • June 15, 1957
  • Ohio
  • Married twice--Mary Harding (divorced 1911), three children; Margaretta Blair, two children
  • Representative


JAMES MIDDLETON COX was born near Jacksonburg, Ohio. After attending high school for two years, he passed the teachers’ examination and began teaching school. He also went into the newspaper business, eventually becoming owner and publisher of the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield Daily News. He served as secretary to U.S. Representative Paul Sorg for three years and was later elected to Congress himself, serving as a representative for two terms before winning the governorship of Ohio. Elected governor at the height of the progressive era, Cox proposed a fifty-six point program to the state legislature containing numerous reforms that he was able to engineer by the end of his first gubernatorial term. Among these reforms was a direct primary law; safeguards for the use of initiatives and referendums; reorganization of the court system; authorization of a budget commission; tax centralization; the creation of a commission to ensure unified management of industrial and agricultural policies; and conservation and roads programs. Also during his administration, a number of social programs were enacted, creating a model workers compensation act, a mothers’ pension, a children’s code, a juvenile research mechanism, and reforms of the state penal system. Cox lost his bid for reelection in 1914 but came back to win the governorship again in 1916 and 1918. Three months after his second inauguration, the United States entered World War I. Cox was an unsuccessful presidential candidate in 1920. He was Vice Chairman of the U.S. delegation to the World Monetary and Economic Conference in London in 1933, where he was chosen President of the Monetary Commission, the goal of which was to stabilize international currencies. He declined an appointment to the U.S. Senate in 1946, preferring instead to continue as a newspaper publisher and owner of several radio and television stations.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 51. New York: James T. White & Company.

Ohio Historical Society

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Recent Ohio Governors