Museum logo
Museum logo

Object Record

  • Email This Page
Accession Number 1900.001
Catalog Number 1900.001.015
Object Name Painting
Title Protrait of Wilson Shannon
Description Ohio's fourteenth and sixteenth governor Wilson Shannon (1838-1840, 1842-1844) is shown seated in a red chair. He wears a black coat, white shirt and a tied black bow. His medium-brown hair is parted on the left.
Date 1870
Artist Hollingsworth, Emma J., 1870-1927
Notes Wilson Shannon was the first governor who was born in Ohio. He was born near Mount Olivet, Ohio, in 1802. His parents had moved from Virginia to the Northwest Territory in 1800. Wilson Shannon was the youngest of nine children.

When Shannon was only one year old, his father froze to death while hunting. After his father's death, his older siblings helped to support the family. Several of his older brothers were lawyers, and they paid his tuition so that he could attend college. Shannon attended Ohio University from 1820 to 1822 and then attended Franklin College briefly before transferring to Transylvania College in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1823. He did not graduate from any of these institutions, deciding instead to study the law. He passed the Ohio bar examination in 1830 and began to practice law in St. Clairsville, Ohio.

Shannon soon became interested in politics. He unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1832, ultimately losing by only thirty-seven votes. In 1833, Shannon won his first elected office, prosecuting attorney for Belmont County. Two years later, he became prosecuting attorney for the state of Ohio. It was during this time that Shannon became a member of the Democratic Party.

Shannon ran for governor on the Democratic ticket in 1838, defeating Joseph Vance. Although not many people knew Shannon outside of his home district, problems with the state banking system and currency caused voters to elect him instead of Vance. Shannon became the state's fourteenth governor. During his administration, Shannon worked to improve the state banking system and decrease the state debt. He did not win reelection in 1840, however, because of the prominence of the Whig Party at the national level. Instead, Whig Thomas Corwin became governor. Shannon ran again in 1842 and became Ohio's sixteenth governor during his term from 1842 to 1844.

Shannon resigned from his position as governor in April 1844 when President John Tyler appointed him minister to Mexico. During his time in Mexico, relations between the United States and Mexico deteriorated. Shannon returned to the United States in March 1845 as the United States began to prepare for the Mexican War. He resumed his law practice in St. Clairsville and practiced law in Cincinnati.

Between 1849 and 1851, Shannon participated in the California gold rush, leading a group of miners west. After returning home, Shannon ran successfully for the U.S. House of Representatives and represented Ohio from 1853 to 1855.

In 1855, President Franklin Pierce appointed Shannon to be governor of the Kansas Territory. He served as governor until 1856, when voters removed him from office. Shannon's time as governor of Kansas was particularly difficult. The territory was organizing for statehood, and there was much debate over whether slavery should be allowed in the new state. The debate was contentious and even violent at times.

Although he was no longer governor, Shannon chose to remain in Kansas after 1856. He began practicing law in Lawrence, Kansas, and remained there until his death on August 30, 1877.
People Hollingsworth, Emma J., 1870-1927
Shannon, Wilson, 1802-1877
Smith, William Henry, 1833-1896
Signed Name E.J. Hollingsworth
Sig Loc Lower Right
Image size 33" x 26"
Frame size 37.25" x 30"
Frame desc Gilt frame with carved beaded liner
Material Oil Paint/Canvas/Wood
Provenance In 1867, the Ohio General Assembly passed a joint resolution relative to the governors of Ohio. The legislators resolved that "the secretary of state, on the first Monday of January next, whether the portraits of the governors of Ohio, state and territorial, can be procured, and if so, whether original portraits or copies, and the probable expense of procuring such portraits for the governor's office."

William H. Smith, secretary of state, notes at that time that Shannon is still alive and that a portrait could be made from life.

On Nov. 17, 1870 the Governor's Contingent Fund pays "J.H. Witt for painting portrait of Gov. Shannon, and furnishing frame for the same. $102.00"

However, the current painting is not the one painted by Witt. That painting was stolen in 1911 and was not recovered. Emma J. Hollingsworth, a staff member of the State Library and author of the "Capitol Guide Catalog" painted a portrait of Shannon (and three other governors) under somewhat suspicious circumstances and was paid $250.00.

The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board took over the care of the Statehouse and its collections in 1988.

Search Terms Ohio Governor
Ohio Governor's Portraits
Subjects Governors
Painting
Portrait paintings
Collection Statehouse Artwork Collection/Governors' Portraits