OZIAS MATHER HATCH - The names that stand out most clearly on the pages of American history since the establishment of the republic are those of the men who were found as the supporters of the Union cause during the dark days of the Civil War, whose influence, widely felt, was exerted for the preservation of their country and who never wavered in their faith concerning that ultimate supremacy of the national government. It is true that men at other times have labored zealously and effectively for the nation's welfare, but they who stood the test of manhood and of citizenship during the long period of civil strife will ever be honored while the nation endures. As secretary of state in Illinois Ozias Mather Hatch was closely associated with the administration and his opinions were not without weight in Washington, for he was a warm personal friend, as well as ardent admirer, of President Lincoln. For eight years he served as secretary of state and was conspicuous for his practical, effective and loyal co-operation with the national policy. His name is high on the roll of the patriots of Illinois and throughout the long years of his residence in Springfield, after his retirement from public life, he was a most respected and honored citizen there.
Mr. Hatch was born in Hillsboro Center, New Hampshire, April 11, 1814, a son of Dr. Reuben and Lucy (Andrews) Hatch. His father, born in Alstead, New Hampshire, June 29, 1787, practiced medicine in that state for nearly thirty years, during the greater part of which period he resided in Hillsboro. In 1835 he removed to Griggsville, Illinois, making the journey overland by team, accompanied by his wife and children, with the exception of the subject of this sketch.
O. M. Hatch was the third in order of birth in the father's family of eight sons and three daughters, and on his father's farm he spent his early youth. His father desired him to become a physician, but thinking the profession would prove uncongenial he resolved upon a mercantile career, and when fifteen years of age he went to Boston, where for seven years he served as a salesman in a wholesale and retail grocery house. In 1836, however, he joined his parents in Griggsville, Illinois, and with the money acquired through his previous labor was enabled to begin business on his own account as a member of the firm of Isaac A. Hatch & Co., the senior partner being his brother, the other being David Hoyt. After two years this relation was discontinued and O. M. Hatch went to the east, where he purchased a stock of goods which became the property of the newly organized firm of McNeil & Hatch, of Griggsville. He continued merchandising until 1841, when he disposed of his interest in order to accept the appointment of Judge Samuel D. Lockwood to the position of clerk of the circuit court, in which capacity he served for seven years, and thereafter re-entered mercantile circles at Meredosia, Illinois, in partnership with his brother, R. B. Hatch.
Mr. Hatch was a man of marked public spirit, who realized fully the obligations of citizenship and gave earnest support to every measure which he believed would promote the general welfare, while as earnestly opposing those movements which he deemed would be detrimental. The slavery question, which was then the paramount issue before the people and concerning which much legislation had been enacted, awakened his deepest interest, and having for some years endorsed the abolition movement, it was but natural that he should become a supporter of the newly organized Republican party, formed to prevent the further extension of slavery. In 1850 he had been elected on the Whig ticket to the state legislature and served for one term, so that he was not without official experience when in 1856 he was made the nominee of the Republican party for the office of secretary of state. He was elected and with ability discharged the duties of the position, as is evidenced by the fact that four years later, in 1860, when party feeling was running still higher, he was re-elected by an increased majority, on the same ticket with Mr. Lincoln, and became a member of the cabinet of Governor Yates, the greatest war governor of the country. Mr. Hatch had been largely instrumental in securing the nomination of Abraham Lincoln for the presidency and it was in his office that the first steps were taken toward this end. His own second term covered the period of the outbreak and progress of the Civil War. It is a fact that it was at the suggestion of Mr. Hatch and of Hon. Jesse K. DuBois that Governor Yates appointed the then almost unknown U.S. Grant colonel of an Illinois regiment, thus giving a start to a man whose career was afterward so illustrious. In the work of organizing troops for the defense of the Union Mr. Hatch bore a conspicuous part. Some idea of the magnitude of this work may be gleaned from a knowledge of the fact that Illinois had sixty thousand men in the field as early as January 1, 1862 - some sixteen thousand in excess of its quota. Mr. Hatch was in a position, as secretary of state, to become almost wealthy for charging fees for the issuance of commissions, as allowed by law, but his heart was too deeply in sympathy with the Union cause and he "voluntarily resigned to the soldiers the fees to which he was entitled for such commissions." While the war was in progress he visited the soldiers at the front, notably at the great battlefields of Shiloh and Antietam, and was unwearying in his efforts to aid the wounded and sick, and to secure for all every possible comfort. After eight years spent in the office of secretary of state, Mr. Hatch refused to again become the candidate and retired to private life. A few months later the news of the awful tragedy in Washington swept over the country. It can be imagined what a blow the death of Lincoln was to Mr. Hatch, to whom he was bound in ties of the strongest friendship, while for the president he ever had the greatest admiration and the strongest faith in his power to safely guide the ship of state. He became one of the original members of the National Lincoln Monument Association, which was temporarily organized in April, 1865, while the permanent organization was effected the following January. In connection with ex-Governor Oglesby Mr. Hatch visited the east with a view to obtaining funds for the statuary on the monument and in this mission was very successful.
In 1860 Mr. Hatch was united in marriage to Miss Julia R. Enos, daughter of Pascal P. Enos, a distinguished citizen of Springfield, and they became the parents of three children who are yet living, Ozias M., Pascal E. and Frank Lockwood.
After his return to private life Mr. Hatch made his home in Springfield and became connected with various enterprises there. He was the vice-president and director of the Sangamon Loan & Trust Company from its organization until his death, and in 1870 he and his brother Isaac established a bank in Griggsville, which in 1873 was reorganized as a national bank. He was also concerned to some extent in railroad enterprises, being instrumental in securing the construction of the Wabash Railroad from Naples to Hannibal, Missouri. In his private life he was distinguished by all that marks the true gentleman. He was courteous under all circumstances, considerate and obliging, and yet he never faltered in his allegiance to the right as he understood it, and it is doubtful if he ever weighed a single act of his life in the scale of policy. The character of the man is indicated by the fact that he numbered among his warmest personal friends many of the distinguished men of state and nation - Lincoln,
Trumbull, Yates, Oglesby, Palmer, Grimshaw, Taylor, Hurlburt and Dubois. Faultless in honor, fearless in conduct and stainless in reputation - such was the life record of Ozias Mather Hatch, who passed away in Springfield, March 12, 1893, the last of the distinguished coterie of men who stood at the head of the state during the Civil war.