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Return Jonathan Meigs

Gov. Return Jonathan Meigs

  • December 8, 1810 - March 24, 1814
  • Democratic-Republican
  • November 17, 1764
  • March 29, 1825
  • Connecticut
  • Yale University
  • Married Sophia Wright; one child
  • Resigned
  • Senator


RETURN J. MEIGS, the fourth governor of Ohio, was born in Middletown, Connecticut on November 17, 1764. His education was attained at Yale University, where he graduated in 1785. He went on to study law, and then established his legal career in Marietta, Ohio. Meigs first entered politics, serving as clerk of the first court, a position he held in 1788. He served as Marietta’s first postmaster in 1794; was a territorial court judge in 1798; and served as a member of the territorial legislature in 1799. In 1803 he served as chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, however, he resigned later that same year. He then secured an appointment to serve as commandant of the U.S. troops in the St. Charles District of Louisiana, a position he held until 1806. In 1807 he returned to the bench, serving as a judge in the Louisiana Territory, as well as in the Michigan Territory court system. Meigs first won election to the governorship in 1807; however, he was ruled ineligible to serve due to his absence from the state. He then served in the U.S. Senate, an office he held from 1808 to 1810. He next secured the Democratic-Republican gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor on October 9, 1810. He went on to reelection to a second term in 1812. During his tenure, a state penitentiary was planned; the capital was moved to Columbus; and troops and arms were raised for the War of 1812. Meigs resigned from the governorship on March 24, 1814. He then served as the U.S. postmaster general, an appointment he held until 1823. Governor Return J. Meigs passed away on March 29, 1825, and was buried in the Mound Cemetery in Marietta, Ohio.


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

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