Clark County, Ohio

History and Genealogy



County and Township Organization


From 20th Century History of Springfield and Clark County, Ohio by Hon. William A. Rockel
Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1908


In the older states there were two kinds of local organization, one which prevailed in New England, which was known as the town system, and the other prevailing in Virginia, known as the county system, which have been very well described by Hinsdale.

"The mingling of elements from all parts of the Atlantic slope in the new population, and particularly the appointment of New England and Middle State men in about equal numbers to Territorial offices, decided the character of the local institutions now found in Ohio. Two radically different types of local government are found in the old States—the town system and the county system. As the names indicate, the first assigns the major part of political power to town or township officers, the second to county officers. These systems are traceable to England. The founders of New England came from towns and cities, and they naturally set up municipal institutions; the founders of Virginia came from the English counties, and as naturally set up county institutions. That the one would be more congenial to a civic democracy, the other to a landed gentry, goes without the saying. As is well known, Mr. Jefferson strove to introduce the New England system into Virginia, and made it the subject of frequent eulogy. 'These wards, called townships in New England,' he said, in 1816, 'are the vital principle of their governments, and have proved themselves the wisest invention ever devised by the wit of man for the perfect exercise of self-government and for its preservation.' Again, in 1810, he speaks of 'the large, lubberly divisions into counties,' of the Middle, Southern and Western States, 'which can never be assembled.' Local government in the Middle States is a compromise of the town and county systems; the county is more than in New England, and the town more than in the South. Governor St. Clair was from Pennsylvania, Judge Symmes from New Jersey, General Putnam from Massachusetts; and the three established in the Territory local institutions that are a sort of cross on the compromise and town systems.







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