|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
Noah Noble (January 15, 1794 – February 8, 1844)
Elizabeth Clair Sedgwick Noble presented her husband, Dr. Thomas Noble, with their new son on January 15, 1794 in Berryville, Virginia. Noah was one of fourteen children born to the couple. The family migrated to Campbell County, Kentucky in 1800, where Dr. Noble opened a medical practice. At seventeen, Noah joined his brother, James, in Brookville, Indiana. His brother had a successful law practice in Brookville and later became a Senator to the United States Senate from Indiana.
From 1811, Noah operated several businesses around Brookville. These included a hotel, a water powered weaving mill and a trading company. The trading company purchased produce from farmers in the Brookville area. They exported this produce to New Orleans for sale there. A boating accident in 1819 ended this business, in which he lost an entire shipment. The debt incurred by this disaster left him indebted for many years. He married Catherin Stull that same year. The couple had three children, two of which died young.
Following his business venture, he enlisted in the 7th Regiment of the Indiana militia unit in 1819. He became a lieutenant colonel, eventually gaining promotion to colonel in 1820.
His first foray into politics was a run for sheriff of Franklin County in 1820. He won this election handily and after his term ended, he won an easy election to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1824. He gained a position with the Indiana Land Office in Indianapolis from 1825 to 1829. In this position, he collected money from land sales in the state for the Federal Government. He helped on the Michigan Road project, a major road connecting Lake Michigan with the Ohio River. In 1830, he gained the nomination for governor of Indiana as a Whig.
The Whigs were a major political party early in the Nineteenth Century. They espoused rapid economic and industrial growth. Their philosophy advocated government support for a free market system, and encouraged business people with skill and expertise. They wanted a superior bank credit system, high tariffs, a business-oriented money supply based on a national bank. Strong supporters of internal improvements, they advocated a strong infrastructure of roads and canals. They also favored a system of public schools, private colleges, charities, and cultural institutions. They were opposed by the Democratic Party, which advocated an egalitarian agricultural society. They believed that modernization led to the development of a powerful aristocratic class that would threaten democracy. During this period, Whigs tended to be more successful on the State level, while Democrats on the national level.
Governor (Dec 07, 1831 - Dec 06, 1837)
As a Whig, Noble was a strong proponent of internal improvements in the state. His most notable achievement was passage of the Mammoth Internal Improvement Act in 1836. He recommended a tax increase to pay for the act, a recommendation the Legislature failed to enact. This failure proved unfortunate for the State of Indiana and fatal for the Whig Party in Indiana. The massive debt incurred by the expenses of the bill forced the State into bankruptcy after the Panic of 1837 and led to the demise of the Whig party in Indiana.
The failure of the Mammoth Internal Improvement Act in 1836 was a political disaster for Noble, who retired to private life at the end of his term. He died in Indianapolis in 1844 and is interred in Crown Hill Cemetery. Noble County, in northeast Indiana, is named in his honor.
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning