Hutchins, John & Rhoda Andrews

John Hutchins: Abolitionist, Attorney, Ohio State Representative, United States Representative, and Historian

Birth: July 25, 1812, Vienna, Trumbull County, Ohio
Death: November 20, 1891, Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Burial: Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
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Rhoda Andrews Hutchins

Birth: May 3, 1817, Burlington, Hartford County, Connecticut
Death: May 8, 1890, Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Burial: Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
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The Honorable John Hutchins posed for this photographic portrait at Matthew Brady's establishment sometime between 1860 and 1862. Library of Congress.

Born in the Township to Samuel Hutchins and Freelove Flower Hutchins, both of whom had migrated from Connecticut to settle in Vienna. John spent his childhood on his parents’ farm and in the Township’s schools. He attended Western Reserve College (then in Hudson), and began to study law in 1835 in the Warren office of David Tod (later Governor of Ohio). Hutchins was admitted to the bar in New Lisbon in 1838. During his studies he married Rhoda M. Andrews on October 27, 1836.

From 1839 to 1844, he served as clerk of the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas, resigning to enter into private legal practice in the firm Tod, Hoffman & Hutchins. His political career began with election to the Ohio state legislature in 1849, and he served as a member of the state’s constitutional convention in 1851.

At the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, Hutchins was in legal practice with Jacob D. Cox (who also became Ohio’s governor and later Secretary of the Interior under President Ulysses S. Grant.) Hutchins was elected twice (in 1858 and in 1860) to the United States House of Representatives. He thus represented Vienna as the Civil War began.

Hutchins had been an early abolitionist as early as 1833, the same year that the American Anti-Slavery Society was founded in Boston. He had been mobbed in Trumbull County for his outspoken position against slavery. In 1841, he rose at an anti-slavery meeting at Western Reserve College to condemn what he considered the College’s proslavery stance, to be at first hissed and then applauded for his convictions. He endorsed the right of African Americans to fight in the Civil War, and he fought to eradicate slavery in the District of Columbia.

He also promoted the postal reform, arguing for a reduced rate on letters and uniformity of rates no matter the distance. These pioneering ideas would be adopted later in the century. (Read his speech and plan here.) He lost his re-election campaign in 1862.

Hutchins returned to Warren at the end of his term in 1863 but in 1868 he moved to Cleveland, where he formed a legal partnership with J. E. and G. L. Ingersoll. By 1880 his son, John C. Hutchins, had joined him in a general law practice. His colleagues in the profession remembered him as “greatly esteemed … for the integrity and ability with which he discharged the duties devolving upon him.”

The great man was an active member of the Early Settlers’ Association of Cuyahoga County, founded in 1880. In that organization’s published volumes are found several of Hutchins’s reminiscences of his younger days in Vienna. He was the Association’s vice-president when he died in November, 1891.

Here are Hutchins' memories of the time his parents' barn burned and was rebuilt by neighbors. This incident, occurring on August 7, 1822, was noted in the journal New England Farmer (September 21, 1822).

“What Earlier Pioneers Did: Remarks by Hon. John Hutchins.” Annals of the Early Settlers Association of Cuyahoga County, Volume I (Cleveland: Mount & Carroll, 1880), pp. 34-35.

Mr. President:--

Short speeches are only in order now.—I will give a brief illustration of the character and habits of the early settlers which occurred under my own observation. In August, 1822, my father’s barn in Vienna, Trumbull County, was struck by lightning, and the barn and its contents were consumed. I was a small boy then, but I remember well the sad countenances of my father and mother, as all their hay, oats, and grain, which their hard summer’s work had stored in that barn, was being burnt up. They had reason to be sad, for they had a family of eight children to care for, and a large stock of cattle, horses and sheep to feed. The pluck of the pioneers carried them through and over misfortunes, which a majority of the present generation would stagger under. With hard work and economy my father and mother set about mitigating the evils resulting from their great loss. They had the active sympathy of their neighbors and acquaintances, more valuable than mere words, and the citizens of four townships, Vienna, Brookfield, Fowler and Hartford concluded to aid in putting up for us a new barn and to do it in double quick time, to wit in one day, and they did it, and had the barn completed and a load of hay in it, before sundown of the day on which it was commenced. The timber for that barn was growing in the woods at 12 o’clock of the night previous to commencement of the work of building it. The matrons and maidens of those four townships with their cheerful and friendly faces were on hand early that morning with stacks of provisions to feed the men during the hard work of that day. To me it was a grand pic-nic, and in my boyish freak I thought it would be a good thing to have father’s barn burnt every year, if it would result in having such a good time.

The load of hay which was put into that barn before sundown, was drawn in on an old fashioned ox-cart, then in general use among farmers. This cart was used for farm-work and carried loads to meeting and to mill. Clean bundles of straw were the spring seats of that day. We have carts now-a-days, but they are lighter and more stylishly built, than the ox-cart. I have seen as valuable loads drawn on those old ox-carts, as the dog-carts of the city now carry. If a man’s barn is burnt now-a-days, the first inquiry among his neighbors is, was it insured—if not, they were sorry and pass him by on the other side. The kindly feelings of the early settlers would not permit this—and the incident I have given, illustrates the pluck, energy and friendly feeling of the early settlers.

Published Biographies

From History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches (Cleveland, Ohio: H. Z. Williams & Bros., 1882), Volume 1, pp. 194-195:

JOHN HUTCHINS, though now a resident of Cleveland, must be classed among the public men from Trumbull county. He was for more than twenty-five years connected with the Warren bar; was during all that time an active politician, and represented for four years the district to which the county was attached in the Congress in the United States. His father, Samuel Hutchins, and his mother, whose maiden name was Flower, were both natives of Connecticut. They removed to the Reserve in 1800, making the whole journey from Connecticut with an ox team, and settled in Vienna township. John, the fourth child, was born July 25, 1812. He worked on the farm and attended the common school until twenty years old. He subsequently attended Western Reserve college. In 1835 Mr. Hutchins began the study of law in the office of David Tod and was admitted to the bar in 1838 at New Lisbon, Columbiana county. After practicing about one year he received the appointment of clerk of the courts for Trumbull county, which position he filled five years. Upon resuming practice Mr. Hutchins was received into partnership with Tod & Hoffman. He was afterwards associated with J. D. Cox until official positions interrupted the practice of both. Mr. Hutchins had been a pronounced anti-slavery man from the beginning of his career, and became a radical Republican after the organization of that party. Hoffman, Sutliff, King, Hutchins, and a few others were avowed promoters of the “Underground Railroad” emancipation project, and when at last there was a political movement which gave hope of the triumph of freedom, these same men were found in the front ranks. Mr. Hutchins was nominated in 1858 to succeed the venerable and honored Giddings in Congress. He was active in defending the honor of the Government before secession, and when rebellion broke out bent his energies in Congress to provide for our armies and at home to recruit those armies. He was succeeded in Congress at the end of his second term by General Garfield, and again devoted himself to the practice of his profession, never, however, losing an opportunity to promote the Union cause as long as the war lasted. In 1868 he removed to Cleveland, and has since been practicing in that city. While in Warren he took an active part in educational matters, and was one of the leading advocates in 1849 of the graded school system. He married Rhoda M. Andrews and has a family of five children.

From Bench and Bar of Ohio: A Compendium of History and Biography, ed. George Irving Reed, Emilius Oviatt Randall, and Charles Theodore Greve (Chicago: The Century Publishing and Engraving Company, 1897), Volume II, pp. 103-105:

JOHN HUTCHINS, deceased, late of Cleveland. John Hutchins was born in Vienna, Trumbull county, Ohio, July 25, 1812. His father, Samuel Hutchins, and his mother, whose maiden name was Flower, were natives of Connecticut and among the earliest settlers in the Western Reserve. Samuel Hutchins came to Ohio first in 1798, and in 1800 drove an ox team from Connecticut to Vienna, where he settled and reared his family of three sons and four daughters. John, the subject of this sketch, was the fourth child. He was educated in the common schools of the county until about twenty years of age, when he continued his studies with a private tutor and subsequently entered the preparatory department of the Western Reserve College. He commenced the study of law at Warren, Ohio, in 1835, in the office of David Tod, afterwards well known as one of Ohio’s ablest governors, and was admitted to the Bar in the fall of 1838, at New Lisbon. After practicing a year he was appointed clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of Trumbull county, in which capacity he served five years. He then resigned and entered the law firm of Tod & Hoffman, which firm became Tod, Hoffman & Hutchins. Afterwards he formed a partnership with J. D. Cox, since governor of the State and member of a President’s cabinet, and was his partner at the breaking out of the rebellion. In 1868 he moved to Cleveland and formed a partnership with J.E. and G. L. Ingersoll, under the firm name of Hutchins & Ingersoll. Subsequently he became associated with his son, John C. Hutchins and O.J. Campbell, as Hutchins & Campbell. Later the firm became John & J. C. Hutchins. In 1849-50 he was a member of the State legislature. It was this legislature which provided for the Constitutional convention of 1851. In the year 1858 he was elected a representative in the Thirty-sixth Congress, as the successor of Joshua R. Giddings, and two years afterwards he was elected to the Thirty-seventh Congress from the same district. The territory of the district was then changed, and from the new district James A. Garfield was chosen to succeed him. In Congress Mr. Hutchins took an active part in the adoption of advanced measures for the prosecution of the war to suppress the rebellion and abolish slavery, and favored the employment of colored soldiers. He advocated and voted for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and indeed had espoused the anti-slavery cause as early as the year 1833, and continued an active worker until slavery was abolished. He belonged to the old Liberty party and was mobbed in Trumbull, his native county, for declaring his convictions on the subject of slavery. In an anti-slavery meeting at Hudson, Ohio, about the year 1841, in criticizing what he regarded as the pro-slavery attitude of the Western Reserve College, he used language which was distasteful to the faculty and students and was hissed by the latter. In giving the history of the anti-slavery movement in the Western Reserve and the active support of the cause by President Stover and Professors Beriah Green and G. E. Wright, Jr., when connected with the college, he said: “Then, an anti-slavery light blazed from College Hill, but where is that light now?” The hissing which greeted this utterance continued for several minutes, but was finally drowned in cheers. The following remarks of Mr. Hutchins in the Thirty-seventh Congress on the subject of employing colored troops to put down the rebellion are quoted from the American Cyclopedia: “If we can take for soldiers minor apprentices and minor sons, we have the same right to take slaves; for they are either persons or property. If they are persons we are entitled to their services to save the government, and the fact that they are not citizens does not change the right of the government to their services as subjects, unless they owe allegiance to a foreign government. If colored persons are property we can certainly use that property to put down the rebellion.” In Congress he took up the subject of postal reform, introduced a bill and made an able and carefully prepared speech in its favor, in which he advocated a reduction of postage on letters, and a uniform rate for all distances, as well as a uniformity in the rate of postage on printed matter, and in addition especially urged the advantages of the carrier delivery system. These measures, in the advocacy of which he was the pioneer, have since been substantially adopted by the government. Mr. Hutchins received special mention from the postmaster general for his able and persistent efforts to improve the service. As a lawyer Mr. Hutchins occupied a high rank. He was greatly esteemed by the members of the Bar, for the integrity and ability with which he discharged the duties devolving upon him. After the war he was elected (one of three) a member of the Loyal Legion of the third class of the Ohio Commandery, an honor conferred upon civilians for distinguished service rendered their country during the rebellion. He was a member of the Early Settlers’ Association, always taking an active interest in the work. The welfare of this association was one of his great pleasures in his declining years. At the time of his death he was vice-president of the association. He married Rhoda M. Andrews, and by this union he had five children, three sons and two daughters. It is in accordance with the fitness of things that his son, Judge John C. Hutchins, should to-day be the postmaster of Cleveland, and it is natural as well as commendable that the son should take great pride and active interest in carrying out and perfecting postal reforms inaugurated by his father. Another son, Horace A. Hutchins, of New York, is associated with Payne, Rockefeller and Flagler in the Standard Oil Company. He was one of the founders of that great enterprise. The later years of Mr. Hutchins’ life were spent in the quiet, dignified practice of his profession, always attentive to his work, and when not able, owing to increasing age, to take that active interest for which he was once noted, he would always be on hand to advise with and direct the younger heads who might be associated with him. He died in 1891, in his eightieth year, with the good opinion of honest men, and the reputation of a friend of freedom and humanity. As a statesman he looked into the future and was guided by principles that endure.

From Lamb's Biographical Dictionary of the United States, ed. John Howard Brown (Boston, Mass.: James H. Lamb Company, 1901), Volume 4, p. 266:

HUTCHINS, John, representative, was born in Vienna, Trumbull county, Ohio, July 25, 1812; son of Samuel and Freelove Flower Hutchins and cousin of Wells Andrews Hutchins. His father was a native of Connecticut and emigrated to the Western Reserve in 1798 settling in Trumbull county. He was educated at home. save one year's attendance at Western Reserve college; was admitted to the bar in 1837; was clerk of the court of common pleas for Trumbull county' 1838-43; a representative in the Ohio legislature 1849; a representative in the 36th and 37th congresses,1859-63; and a delegate to the Philadelphia Loyalists convention of 1866. He was married in 1836 to Rhoda, daughter of Hun Andrews. Their son. John Corydon Hutchins. became a prominent lawyer of Cleveland. John Hutchins died in Cleveland. Ohio, Nov. 19, 1891.

From Harriet Taylor Upton, A Twentieth Century History of Trumbull County, Ohio: A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People, and Its Principal Interests (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1909), Volume 1, pp. 165-166:

Hon. John Hutchins, although he lived in Cleveland in the last years of his life, was really identified with the history of Trumbull County. His ancestors came from Connecticut in 1800, making the journey with ox teams, and settling in Vienna. He had all the advantage of the men of his time in education, for, aside from common schools, he attended Western Reserve College. He studied law with David Tod, and was admitted in 1838 in New Lisbon. Later he was clerk of the Trumbull County court for five years. He had at different times as his partners David Tod, B. F. Hoffman, J. D. Cox, Milton Sutliff and others. He succeeded Joshua R. Giddings in Congress in 1858, serving two terms. He removed to Cleveland in 1868.

From Alfred Andrews, Genealogical History of John and Mary Andrews, Who Settled in Farmington, Conn., 1640: Embracing Their Descendants to 1872; With an Introduction of Miscellaneous Names of Andrews, With Their Progenitors as Far as Known; To Which Is Added A List of Some of the Authors, Clergymen, Physicians, and Soldiers of the Name (Chicago, Ill.: A. H. Andrews & Co., and Hartford, Conn.: Case, Lockwood & Brainard, 1872), p. 387:

RHODA M., youngest child of Whitely Hunn Andrews, of Burlington, Conn., and subsequently of Vienna, Ohio, and his second wife, who was the widow of Jesse Fuller when he married her, her maiden name being Woodford, daughter of John, born 3d May, 1817, at Burlington, Conn. Rhoda resided at Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio, and married 27th October, 1836, Hon. John Hutchins. They lived, in 1869, at Cleveland, Ohio. He is a lawyer, and was successor of Hon. Joshua R. Giddings in Congress, and also member of the 37th Congress.

Published Speeches of John Hutchins

Emancipation not a Failure: Speech of Hon. John Hutchins, of Ohio, in Reply to his Colleague, Mr. Cox, delivered in the House of Representatives, Saturday, July 5, 1862. Washington, DC: Scammell & Co., Printers, 1862. 13 pp.

Freedom v. Slavery: Speech of John Hutchins, of Ohio. 1860, 7 pp.

President’s Annual Message: Speech of Hon. John Hutchins, of Ohio, in the House of Representatives, December 11, 1862. Washington: Printed at the Congressional Globe Office, 1862. 7 pp.

Speech of Hon. John Hutchins, of Ohio, in the House of Representatives, May 19th, 1862, on Low and Uniform Postage. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 443 Broadway, 1862. 32 pp.

Speech of Hon. John Hutchins, of Ohio, on the bill for the Release of Certain Persons held to Service or Labor in the District of Columbia; delivered in the House of Representatives, April 11, 1862. Washington: Printed at the Congressional Globe Office, 1862. 7 pp.

State of the Union: Speech of Hon. John Hutchins, of Ohio, in the House of Representatives, February 9, 1861. Washington: McGill & Witherow, Printers, 1861. 8 pp. Speech defending the Emancipation Proclamation.

Updated 2/15/2021