Benjamin Wade (1800-1878)
Benjamin Wade was, for the most part, a self-taught man. As with many of the first pioneers who came to Ashtabula County, the land required all one's efforts just to meek out a lowly existence with little time left to achieve an education. When yet a young man, he hired out as a grover and assisted in driving a herd of cattle to Philadelphia. Instead of returning to Ohio, he journeyed to his brother Dr. James Wade's house, staying there for two years supporting himself by teaching school. (Biographical History of Northeast Ohio, pg 130.) On his return to Ohio, he studied law in the office of Elisha Whittlesey at Canfield, Ohio. (Riddle, pgs. 59-61.)
After being admitted to the bar, Wade moved to Jefferson, Ohio. In 1831, he formed a partnership with Joshua Giddings in Jefferson. (Verified, Riddle, pg. 80.) The Partnership was very successful and by 1835, Wade was elected Prosecuting Attorney for Ashtabula County. In 1837, Mr. Giddings retired and the partnership was resolved. Although Wade was "frank, abrupt and incisive", qualities which offended some people, he was also honest and unpretentious. These qualities got him elected to the Ohio Senate in 1837. (Biographical History of Ashtabula County, pg. 130.) Throughout this period, Wade was active in the Underground Railroad assisting escaping slaves whenever the occasion occurred.
In May of 1841, he married Caroline Rosekrans of Ashtabula, a relative of William Hubbard, a station master on the Underground Railroad. (Riddle, pg. 97.) Caroline would prove to be an able partner. Two children were born to the couple, James F. and Henry P.
From 1851 to 1870, Wade served in the United States Senate, being one of the most vocal voices in the defense of human and civil rights. (Lewis History, pg. 131.) When an impeachment trial was held in 1868, President Johnson was acquitted of the charges by a margin of one vote. Had one more senator voted guilty, Benjamin F. Wade would have been President of the United States. (Williams, pg.71.)
After his long public service, Wade returned to Jefferson where he died on March 2, 1878. He is buried near his former law partner, Joshua R. Giddings.