Southeast Indiana Historical Marker - James Harrison Cravens

Southeast Indiana Historical Marker - James Harrison Cravens
Southeast Indiana Historical Marker - James Harrison Cravens

Title of Marker:

James Harrison Cravens


Cravens 1865 Home, 324 E. Fairground Avenue, Osgood. (Ripley County, Indiana)

Installed by:

2006 Indiana Historical Bureau, Ripley County Historical Society, and Rising Sun Regional Foundation

Marker ID #:


Marker Text:

Side one:

Born 1802 in Virginia; admitted to the bar 1823. Moved to Jefferson County, Indiana 1829. Established law office in Versailles, Ripley County 1833. Served four terms in Indiana General Assembly. Elected as Whig to U.S. Congress 1841. Lost as Free Soil party candidate for Indiana governor 1849 and as Republican candidate for attorney general 1856.

Side two:

A well-known debater, he opposed extension of slavery, 1850 Fugitive Slave Act requiring citizens to return escaping slaves to their owners, and Article 13 of 1851 Constitution prohibiting blacks from moving into Indiana. Served briefly in Civil War. Moved to Osgood area before 1860; built home here circa 1865. Died at Osgood December 4, 1876.

James Harrison Cravens (August 2, 1802 – December 4, 1876

A native of Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Virginia, and Cravens studied law, received admittance to the bar in 1823, and opened a practice in Harrisonburg. In 1829, he migrated to Madison, Indiana and became involved in agriculture. Cravens gained election to the Indiana House of Representatives. He served in the House from 1831 through 1833. In 1833, he moved to Ripley County, Indiana and opened a law practice in Versailles. After winning a term to the Indiana State Senate in 1841, he mounted a successful campaign for the United States House of Representatives in 1841. He ran for Indiana governor in 1852 as a Free Soil Candidate. During the Civil War, he joined the Eighty-third Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry and served as a lieutenant colonel.

Captured by Morgan
General John Hunt Morgan's troops captured his troop during their raid into Indiana and he remained a prisoner of war until the conflict ended. After mustering out of the Army, Cravens moved back to Ripley County, building a home in Osgood. He lived in that house until his death in 1876. During his time in office, he opposed Article 13 of the new Indiana Constitution.

Free Soil Party

The Free Soil Party originated in Buffalo, New York. It appealed mainly to people in upstate New York, western Massachusetts, Ohio and Indiana. The short-lived party remained active for two presidential elections, 1848 and 1852. Its two candidates, Martin Van Buren and John P. Hale were unsuccessful. the party consisted mainly of anti-slavery Whigs and Democrats. They opposed expanding slavery into the territories and tried to expunge laws in the states that discriminated against free blacks. After the 1852 support for the Free Soil Party disintegrated, however many of its former adherents established the Republican Party which successfully ran Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

Article 13 - Negroes And Mulattoes

Section 1. No negro or mulatto shall come into or settle in the State, after the adoption of this Constitution.

Section 2. All contracts made with any Negro or Mulatto coming into the State, contrary to the provisions of the foregoing section, shall be void; and any person who shall employ such Negro or Mulatto, or otherwise encourage him to remain in the State, shall be fined in any sum not less than ten dollars, nor more than five hundred dollars.

Section 3. All fines which may be collected for a violation of the provisions of this article, or of any law which ay hereafter be passed for the purpose of carrying the same into execution, shall be set apart and appropriated for the colonization of such Negroes and Mulattoes, and their descendants, as may be in the State at the adoption of this Constitution, and may be willing to emigrate.

Section 4. The General Assembly shall pass laws to carry out the provisions of this article.

The Supreme Court declared this article unconstitutional in the famous 1855 case of Freeman v. Robinson.