Moses Bledsoe Corwin died at his residence in this city,
Thursday evening, April 11th, 1872, aged 82 years and 3 months.
He was the first child of Icabod and
Sarah Corwin, and was born in Bourbon county, Kentucky, January
5th, 1799, and six years later the family removal to Lebanon, Ohio,
where he grew up to manhood.
June 4th, 1811, he was married to Margaret Fox,
of Lebanon, and in 1812 they moved to Urbana, arriving here June
18th, and here they spent the remainder of their lives.
Upon his arrival here, Mr. Corwin began the publication of
the Watchtower, the first newspaper published in the then
large county of Champaign, introducing press and types into the vast
wilderness, undismayed by the popular illiteracy of most early
settlers, and less annoyed by the competition of other presses a
hundred miles away.
Early in 1811 he had been admitted to the bar and he
began his practice here, which became very extensive, his circuit
including Cincinnati and Detroit, at which places he was an
attendant at court. In those early days the lawyer traveled
like an old style gentleman, astride the best horse in the country,
his legal acumen stored in his brain and legal authorities in his
saddle-bags. The journey of a circuit then was no trifling
trip, as it now would be, but occupied weeks always, and frequently
extending into months.
In 1838 Mr. Corwin was elected Representative
from Champaign and Union counties to the State Legislature, and was
re-elected in 1839.
He represented this District (then composed of
Champaign, Logan, Union, Delaware and Clare counties, ) in Congress,
in 1849-50, and again in 1853-54, serving, faithfully and
acceptably, the people of the Eighth District, in times when
political strategy and heightened compromise were actively engaged
in preparing evil webs for a future day to unravel. On all the
measures of those days, Mr. Corwin entertained and advocated
advanced ideas, which eventually led him to enroll himself in the
ranks of the Republican party, early in its career, in which he
lived politically until his natural death.
His social life was a thread of interesting portrayals
of the character of true friendship. The fire of love turned
brightly in his heart and the sun never set upon his anger. To
a friend he was all friend, in adversity or thrift. In the
hour of trial, of deep despair, his friend found him strong to avert
any danger and with a will to do it.
An incident occurs to us that is fruitful of the
lessons of friendship and shows the true tests. It was told by
Jonathan E. Chaplin, in the First M. E. Church, many years ago,
in an address on Temperance. And to make this incident the
more fully understood, it must be known that in his early manhood,
Mr. Corwin was an intemperate man, beyond the ordinary dram
drinking customs of the day, and Mr. Chaplin was his chosen
companion of the hour.
In the fall of 1830, in November if we mistake not, the
naturally religious faculties of Mr. Corwin assumed supremacy
over his grosser passions and led him to unite himself with the M.
E. Church. He closed his lips against liquor in all its forms
and became totally abstinent. The great change in so prominent
a man was the theme of every tongue and excitement even resulted
from so great a reformation and so prominent an example.
The example was not lost on his most valued and truly
honorable friend, Jonathan Chaplin, and he too made the
effort to abstain from the cup. For days and nights he
wrestled with the demon appetite, and fought manfully against the
love of that which he knew would drag him down to destruction.
At the morning of the eight day he succumbed to the demands of his
tottering brain and with shaking nerves, and mind racked with the
torture of an appetite freed from resistance, he arose long before
dawn, and maddened, crazed, he awaited the coming of the first gray
streaks of the day that he might go down town, awaken the
storekeeper, and appease his appetite with brandy, which he knew he
would surely obtain.
Day dawned, and throwing a blanket around him, he
started down town, the wind blowing fiercely, and soon reached North
Main street. As he turned into that street he met a strong
blast of wind that nearly carried away his hat and blanket, when he
pulled the blanket over his head and groped his way onward, not
caring what might be in his way, and seeing nothing. Out of a
little nook near where Busser's Cigar Store now stands,
stepped a manly form and seized him firmly by the shoulder, turned
him around, and in a friendly voice said, "Jonathan, come
home," And, God be praised, Jonathan went.
He who had saved his friend from
that most hopeless, uncharitable road to destruction, was Moses
B. Corwin, and for eight early mornings had he watched and
waited there; knowing the cravings of appetite that would afflict
him in whom he had the strongest interest - knowing the hour it
would come the strongest to attack him, and he put forth the strong
and resolute hand. Jonathan Chaplin became an
honored and exceedingly popular minister of the Gospel.
Such an event is worth the living of an ordinary
lifetime; but Mr. Corwin's life exhibited many such
incidents, showing his valuation of the fraternal ties of manhood,
and their correct uses.
The declining days of such a man are full of peace, and
his retrospect of a long life was fruitful of comfort and
contentment that made him happy, even when surrounded with
affliction. Seeing, he heard not, but his thoughts of the good
the world has and had were the solace of a good old. man.
* From From the Urbana, O., Citizen and Gazette