Jacob Brinkerhoff, a cousin or nephew of fellow Congressman Henry Roelif Brinkerhoff, became distinguished through service as a United States Congressman, serving from 1843 to 1847, through his authorship of the Wilmot Proviso, and through his service as Ohio State Supreme Court Justice from 1859 to 1871.
Jacob Brinkerhoff was born in Niles, Cayuga County, New York. He attended Plattsburgh Academy in Plattsburgh, Steuben County, New York, and then studied law in the office of Howell and Bro. Following his legal preparation, he moved to Mansfield, Ohio in 1837, where he was admitted to the Ohio bar in that same year. He then began to practice law in partnership with Thomas W. Bartley in Mansfield, Ohio.
Brinkerhoff became quickly interested in politics, and he became a prosecuting attorney for Richland County, Ohio in 1839, and served in that capacity until 1843. In 1842 he was elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-eighth Congress, and then was reelected to the subsequent Twenty-ninth Congress. Brinkerhoff thus served in the United States Congress from March 4, 1843 until March 3, 1847.
During his time in Congress, Brinkerhoff became affiliated with the Free Soils Party, and he drew up the Wilmot Proviso. The original draft of the Wilmot Proviso in Brinkerhoff’s handwriting is in the Congressional Library. The Proviso became known as the Wilmot Proviso because Congressman David Wilmot was a senior Congressman, also a member of the Free Soils Party, who had the first opportunity to introduce it in Congress. However, the Proviso was entirely authored by Jacob Brinkerhoff.
The original Wilmot Proviso, entitled the 1846 version, reads as follows.
“Provided that, as an express and fundamental condition to the acquisition of any territory from the Republic of Mexico by the United States, by virtue of any treaty which may be negotiated between them, and to the use by the Executive of the moneys herein appropriated, neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of said territory, except for crime, whereof the party shall first be duly convicted.”
The above Proviso was highly controversial because it was antislavery oriented and strongly opposed by the southern states. It did pass in the House, but failed to get enough votes in the Senate. A revised version was introduced in 1847. It reads as follows.
“There shall be neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude in any territory on the continent of America which shall hereafter be acquired by or annexed to the United States by virtue of this appropriation [the $ 3,000,000] or in any other manner whatever, except for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”.
Apparently, the text of the Wilmot Proviso was based on Jefferson’s text for the original Northwest ordinance [Ordinance of 1784]. The Proviso was later revised to become the Fourteenth Amendment.
Following his congressional career, Brinkerhoff resumed his law practice in Mansfield, Ohio. In 1856, Brinkerhoff was elected to the Ohio Supreme Court, and three years later, in 1859, Brinkerhoff became Ohio’s Supreme Court Justice. He served as the Supreme Court Justice until 1871. In 1856, in the same year Brinkerhoff became a Supreme Court Justice, the Republican Party was founded, and Brinkerhoff changed his party affiliation and became a Republican. He was an alternate delegate from Ohio to the Republican National Convention in 1868.
By the time Brinkerhoff retired from the Oho Supreme Court in 1871, he had been involved in the political area as a public servant for 32 years.
Brinkerhoff married Carolina Campbell in October 1837. In the year of his marriage he was admitted to the Ohio bar and started his law practice. The marriage would not last long. Carolina passed away in 1839. Brinkerhoff remarried Marian Titus of Detroit, Michigan. The couple had four children, two sons and two daughters. Brinkerhoff passed away in Mansfield, Ohio on July 19, 1880. He was interred in Mansfield Cemetery.
Jacob Brinkerhoff, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Brinkerhoff
Brinkerhoff, Jacob, [1810-1880], http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=B000838
Wilmot Proviso [full text], http://blueandgraytrail.com/event/Wilmot%20Proviso_%5Bfull_text%5D
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