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William Dennison (American National Biography)

Scholarship
Phyllis F. Field, "Dennison, William," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/04/04-00311.html.
[Dennison] was an active leader in the first national Republican organizational meeting in Pittsburgh in 1856 and a prominent member of the convention that nominated John C. Frémont for president later that year. A frequent adviser on financial matters for Ohio's first Republican governor, Salmon P. Chase, Dennison was chosen in 1859 to run as his successor. Although the cool and aloof Dennison had never cultivated the common touch, he conducted a vigorous campaign, debating his opponent, Rufus Ranney, and calling in Abraham Lincoln, among others, to stump for him. He won with 51.9 percent of the popular vote.

The outbreak of the Civil War dominated Dennison's governorship. Like most northern governors, he found the task of organizing and equipping tens of thousands of volunteers an administrative nightmare. Unable to anticipate everything that might go wrong, he often had to react after disaster struck. Troops were ordered to assemble before they could be adequately quartered or fed. They suffered from disease in ill-chosen campsites. Weapons and supplies could only be found by paying exorbitant prices. Delays were inevitable but seemed intolerable to those who did not understand the difficulties. Dennison belatedly reorganized his staff, appointed George B. McClellan, who had extensive military and management experience, as major general over Ohio's volunteers, and systematized recruiting by mobilizing local elites into committees charged with organizing rallies and speakers. When he left office Ohio had met its recruitment goals and had a manpower surplus.
How to Cite This Page: "William Dennison (American National Biography)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/24933.