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Template:Infobox Governor Joseph Benson Foraker (July 5, 1846 – May 10, 1917) was a Republican politician from Ohio. He served as the 37th Governor of Ohio from 1886 to 1890.

Early life[]

Joseph B. Foraker was born on a farm near the town of Rainsboro, Highland County, Ohio on July 5, 1846 to Henry Stacey Foraker and Margaret Reece Foraker. The family emigrated to the Middle West from the Bombay Hook area on the Delware Bay. Foraker spent his childhood working on the family farm and obtained only limited schooling during those years. When Foraker was only sixteen years old, he decided to join the Union army during the American Civil War. He enlisted in Company A, 89th Ohio Infantry. During the war, Foraker participated in military actions in West Virginia and Tennessee, under the overall command first of Don Carlos Buell and later William Rosecrans, and over whose campaigns Senator Charles Sumner was a Congressional observer. Foraker also served with General William T. Sherman, Major General Carl Schurz and Brigadier General Adolph von Steinwehr, during the March to the Sea and the Tennessee and North Carolina campaigns respectively. His actions at Missionary Ridge, Bentonville and the capture of Savannah were notable. By the time that Foraker left the military in June 1865, he had he had participated in 13 principal battles and obtained the rank of brevet captain.[1] After serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, Foraker prepared for legal studies at the Salem Academy and Ohio Wesleyan University before matriculating at Cornell University. He received his B.A. in 1869 along with the seven other members of Cornell's first graduating class, including his roommate Morris Lyon Buchwalter and their friend, John Andrew Rea. There, he was a tri-founder of the New York Alpha chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, its first chapter north of the Susquehanna River and east of the Ohio river.[2][3] He was also a member of the Irving Literary Society.

Law and early politics[]

He moved to Cincinnati, gained admittance to the bar, and began practicing law. Foraker first entered politics in 1879. He was elected to be a judge of the superior court in Cincinnati. He held this position until 1882. During his years on the court, he gained a reputation for his speaking skills and became an important member of the Republican Party. In 1883, Foraker ran for Ohio governor on the Republican ticket but failed to defeat Democrat George Hoadly. Foraker was successful in the gubernatorial election of 1885 and became Ohio's thirty-seventh governor. As governor, Foraker was concerned about election fraud in Ohio. He helped institute a voter registration program and favored changes in how election boards were established. During his administration, the state legislature also passed the Dow Law, which taxed the sale of alcoholic beverages in Ohio. The governor instituted a number of reforms, including the establishment of boards to reduce corruption in city government, the creation of a state board of health, and greater oversight of the operations of the state penitentiary. A Civil War veteran, Foraker was well known for declaring that no Confederate battle flags in Ohio would be returned to southern states while he was Governor. Foraker was elected to a second term in 1887 but was unsuccessful in winning a third term in 1889.[4]

United States Senate[]

Foraker was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1896 representing Ohio, and served two terms, from 1897 to March 3, 1909. He sponsored the Organic Act of 1900, also known as the Foraker Act, which established civil government in the newly-acquired island of Puerto Rico. Foraker served as one of Ohio's two senators from 1897 to March 3, 1909. Although the senator had competed with McKinley for political influence in Ohio, he supported the president's policies as a member of Congress. Foraker voted in favor of the Spanish-American War in 1898 and served as chairman of the committee on the Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico. When Theodore Roosevelt became president, Foraker was not as supportive. He was the only Republican to vote against the Hepburn Act of 1906, which regulated railroads. He also criticized Roosevelt's actions in the Brownsville case, in which the president ordered that an African-American regiment be discharged without formal charges filed against them in 1906. Foraker was unsuccessful in obtaining a third term as senator in 1908. During his first term as senator, Foraker had taken money from the Standard Oil Company in exchange for providing some legal advice to the company. In the nineteenth century, this kind of arrangement between politicians and businesses had been acceptable. By the early twentieth century, many Americans viewed such a relationship as a conflict of interest. When news of his involvement with Standard Oil became public in 1908, Foraker was forced to retire from politics.

In the Senate, he was Chairman, Committee to Examine Branches of the Civil Service (Fifty-fifth Congress); Committee on Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico (Fifty-sixth through Sixtieth Congresses). Foraker was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election in 1908, and was a candidate for the Republican nomination in the United States presidential election, 1908, losing to William Howard Taft. After leaving the Senate, Foraker returned to private legal practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. He once again attempted to enter politics in 1914, unsuccessfully running against Warren G. Harding for the Republican senatorial nomination. He published his memoirs, Notes of a Busy Life, in 1916. Foraker died in Cincinnati on May 10, 1917. He was buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery, '69 paces away from fellow founder of New York Alpha, the Honorable Morris Lyon Buchwalter.

Reputation within the Republican Party[]

Although Foraker was an influential member of the Republican Party in Ohio, he did not get along with such prominent Republicans as John Sherman, Marcus Hanna, and William McKinley. For example, in 1892, Foraker unsuccessfully attempted to contest Sherman's appointment as a United States senator.[5] Several years later, Foraker and McKinley engaged in a power struggle for control of the Ohio Republican Party. Instead, Foraker gained the support of prominent city boss George Cox of Cincinnati.


Mount Foraker in Alaska and Governor Foraker Place, a street in the county seat of Highland County, Hillsboro, Ohio, about 10 miles west of Rainsboro, are named in his honor.


  1. Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of Rebellion, 1861-1866. Akron, OH: The Werner Company, 1893; Reid, Whitelaw. Ohio in the War: Her Statesmen, Generals and Soldiers. Cincinnati, OH: Clarke, 1895; Dee, Christine, ed. Ohio's War: The Civil War in Documents. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007.
  2. Van Cleve, Charles L. (1902). Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity From Its Foundation In 1852 To Its Fiftieth Anniversary. p. 209: Philadelphia: Franklin Printing Company.
  3. Keehn, Roy D. (1910). Grand Catalogue of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity (7th ed.) p. 57. Chicago: Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity.
  4. Foraker, Joseph Benson. Notes of a Busy Life, by Joseph Benson Foraker, with Portraits and other Illustrations. Cincinnati, OH: Stewart & Kidd Company, 1916.
  5. Walters, Everett. Joseph Benson Foraker: An Uncompromising Republican. Columbus, Ohio History Press, 1948.

External links[]

Template:Start box Template:S-off |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
George Hoadly |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Governor of Ohio
1886-1890 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
James E. Campbell |- |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States Senate Template:U.S. Senator box |} Template:Governors of Ohio Template:USSenOH Template:Phi Kappa Psi Presidents

de:Joseph B. Foraker ja:ジョセフ・ベンソン・フォラカー fi:Joseph B. Foraker sv:Joseph B. Foraker