Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Benjamin Ogle (1749-1809)
MA SC 3520-946
Governor of Maryland, 1798-1801

The following essay is taken from Frank F. White, Jr., The Governors of Maryland 1777-1970 (Annapolis:  The Hall of
Records Commission, 1970), 43-44.

"BENJAMIN OGLE'S administration reflected the growing chasm between the Federalists and the Democrats. When he took office, he did so with his party firmly entrenched on the national scene. By the time his term ended, the Democrats had come to power because of growing clamor for reform 'reflected in the rise of political partisanship, and in part the revival in the state of the traditional duel between conservatism and liberalism.'1 This discontent grew out of criticism over Federalist party policies especially with regard to the passage of the Alien and Sedition Act, local sympathy for France or England, the extension of the franchise and the growing movement for reform.

"Benjamin Ogle was born in 'Ogle Hall' in Annapolis on January 27, 1749, the son of Samuel and Anne (Tasker) Ogle.2 His father had been the proprietary governor serving approximately fourteen years in that office. When Benjamin was only three years of age his father died, so he was raised by his grandfather, Benjamin Tasker, who succeeded to the governor ship upon Samuel Ogles death in 1752. Under the terms of his fathers will, young Benjamin acquired 'Belair,' the Ogle family estate in Prince George's County. He was sent to England for his education.3

"Following his return from England, he made his home in Annapolis. His mother, in the meantime, had moved from 'Belair' and had purchased 'Ogle Hall,' which the Ogle family owned until 1815. In the years immediately preceding the Revolution, he entered public life as a member of the Upper House between October 1773 and April 1774. It had been rumored around Annapolis that he had been chosen to the Upper House for the sole purpose of breaking a tie over a proposed inspection bill, but he denied this allegation. During this period, too, he had married Henry Margaret Hill, the granddaughter of Joseph Hill of Anne Arundel County, and to them were born a son and two daughters.4

[p. 44] "During the Revolution, Ogle served in several military capacities. He was an officer in the militia, and served as Third Lieutenant of Captain Samuel Harvey Howard’s Independent Company of Militia in Annapolis. There are frequent references to his receiving payment from the Auditor General for interest due on certificates issued agreeable to the 'Act to adjust the Debts due from this State.' At the very close of the war, Benjamin Ogle served as a member of the Governor’s Council in 1781 and 1782, was re-elected in November 1783, but resigned on January 5, 1784, apparently because of differences with his colleagues. He seems not to have held any elective office between that time and his election as Governor.

"Ogle succeeded John Henry on November 14, 1798, and occupied the gubernatorial office until November 10, 1801. He was re-elected in 1799 and 1800. Buchholz inferred that Benjamin Ogle was an inferior candidate, because in 1798 the Legislature’s first choice was Thomas Sim Lee who declined. Because of his refusal, 'the legislature had several times been forced to accept a declination from one who had been chosen to the high office of governor, and invariably after one of these humiliating experiences it sought out a less conspicuous citizen upon whom to bestow the honor,'5 but Ogle had neither Lee’s popularity nor his ability.

"Ogle’s administrations witnessed the preparation for possible war with France. The General Assembly sent a message to President John Adams in which it expressed to him its approval of his manner of handling the crisis. Adams replied that he had received the approval of many, but 'nothing of the kind has excited my gratitude more sincerely than this magnanimous address from the General Assembly.'6

"The death of George Washington on December 14, 1799, seemed to affect him deeply. In response to the request of the General Assembly, Ogle issued a proclamation suggesting that “the eleventh day of February next be observed throughout this state as a day of mourning, humiliation and prayer for the deceased.' Citizens were to abstain 'from their secular occupations, devote the time to the sacred duties of religion'; and 'that they implore the Most High God [to] grant to the people of this and the United States, that the wisdom and virtues of a Washington may never cease to influence and direct our public councils.'7

"Ogle retired from public life until 1806, dividing his time between his town house in Annapolis and his country estate in Prince George’s County. Except for a brief interlude in 1806 when Annapolis chose him as a Senatorial elector, he lived a quiet life. He died in Annapolis on July 6, 1809 after a long and painful illness, leaving to his wife all his real and personal estate. Agreeable to his request, his remains 'were privately interred the same evening on his farm near this city.'''8

Notes on sources

Return to Benjamin Ogle's introductory page

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