Giddings, Joshua Reed

Joshua Giddings was an anti-slavery congressman who became a hero to the abolitionist movement when he resigned his seat in Congress in 1842 following a censure for his role in the Creole case, an incident concerning a slave uprising at sea, only to win back the seat through a special election. Giddings was a Whig who befriended fellow Whig Abraham Lincoln when they served together in Congress during the late 1840s. Giddings later became a leading Republican during the 1850s and served as a minor diplomat for the Lincoln Administration during the Civil War. (By Matthew Pinsker)
Life Span
Full name
Joshua Reed Giddings
Place of Birth
Burial Place
Birth Date Certainty
Death Date Certainty
Sectional choice
Free State
Attorney or Judge
Relation to Slavery
White non-slaveholder
US military (Pre-Civil War)

Joshua Reed Giddings (Congressional Biographical Directory)

GIDDINGS, Joshua Reed, a Representative from Ohio; born in Tioga Point (later Athens), Bradford County, Pa., October 6, 1795; moved with his parents to Canandaigua, N.Y., in 1795; received a common-school education; again moved with his parents to Ashtabula County, Ohio, in 1806; completed preparatory studies; served in the War of 1812; taught school; studied law; was admitted to the bar in February 1821 and commenced practice in Jefferson, Ohio; member of the State house of representatives in 1826; elected as a Whig to the Twenty-fifth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Elisha Whittlesey; reelected to the Twenty-sixth and Twenty-seventh Congresses and served from December 3, 1838, until March 22, 1842, when he resigned, after a vote of censure had been passed upon him by the House in response to his motion in defense of the slave mutineers in the Creole case; subsequently elected to the Twenty-seventh Congress to fill the vacancy caused by his own resignation; reelected as a Whig to the Twenty-eighth through Thirtieth Congresses, as a Free-Soil candidate to the Thirty-first through Thirty-third Congresses, elected as an Opposition Party candidate to the Thirty-fourth Congress, and reelected as a Republican to the Thirty-fifth Congress; and served from December 5, 1842, until March 3, 1859; chairman, Committee on Claims (Twenty-seventh and Thirty-fourth Congresses); declined to be a candidate for reelection; appointed consul general to the British North American Provinces by President Lincoln on March 25, 1861, and served until his death; died in Montreal, Canada, May 27, 1864; interment in Oakdale Cemetery, Jefferson, Ohio.
“Giddings, Joshua Reed,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 to Present,
Date Title
Washington (DC) National Era, “The Republican Platform,” January 1, 1857
Richmond (VA) Dispatch, "A Case in Point," January 3, 1857
New York Times, “The Tariff Bill,” January 16, 1857
Theodore Parker to Charles Sumner, February 27, 1857
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, "A New Deposite [Deposit] Bill," June 17, 1858
New York Herald, “The Hon. Joshua R. Giddings vs. the Administration and the Slave Power,” June 27, 1858
New York Herald, “An Abolitionist in a Slave State,” November 15, 1858
Charleston (SC) Mercury, “The Union of the South,” March 9, 1859
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “Democratic Prospects,” April 11, 1859
New York Times, “Growing Ferocious,” May 9, 1859
Lowell (MA) Citizen & News, “The Oberlin Slave Rescue Cases,” May 18, 1859
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, “Respect for Law,” May 30, 1859
Richmond (VA) Dispatch, “The Madness of Brown,” October 25, 1859
Carlisle (PA) American Volunteer, "Bleeding Kansas," October 27, 1859
Philadelphia (PA) Christian Observer, "A Regular Abolition Conspiracy," October 27, 1859
William T. Sherman to Ellen Sherman, October 29, 1859
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, "Political Effect," October 31, 1859
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, "They Have Overdone It!," November 2, 1859
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, "A Recoil of the Gun," November 18, 1859
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, “Harper’s Ferry Items,” January 30, 1860
New York Times, “The Senatorial Inquisition,” February 11, 1860
New York Times, “Helper’s Book and the Republicans,” March 2, 1860
William Wilkins to James Watson Webb, March 26, 1860
Newark (OH) Advocate, “Abraham Lincoln,” June 1, 1860
New York Herald, “Helper and His Black Republican Endorsers,” October 28, 1860
New York Herald, “Honor to Abolitionism Pure and Simple,” March 24, 1861
Chicago Style Entry Link
Gamble, Douglas A. “Joshua Giddings and the Ohio Abolitionists: A Study in Radical Politics.” Ohio History 88 (Winter 1979): 37-56. view record
Julian, George W. The Life of Joshua R. Giddings. Chicago: A.C. McClurg, 1892. view record
Stewart, James Brewer. Joshua R. Giddings and the Tactics of Radical Politics. Cleveland: Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1970. view record
How to Cite This Page: "Giddings, Joshua Reed," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,