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article number 691
article date 11-16-2017
copyright 2017 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
A Very Rich and Varied State History: Ohio, 1700 - 1940
by Work Projects Administration

From the 1940 Work Projects Administration book, The Ohio Guide.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is randomly decorated with pictures from the "History" section of the [same] book.

* * *

IT IS generally believed by strangers that the most interesting and significant phase of Ohio’s history lies in the part the State has played in National politics—as a ‘barometer State’ and as the home of political leaders. Ohio has produced many men of political importance, and has sent seven native Sons to the presidency—Grant, Garfield, Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, McKinley, Taft, and Harding.

However, Ohio’s industrial life overshadows its politics, and although today, as for many years past, the tenseness and sensitiveness of political life are much publicized, Ohio’s major importance—and major interest—lies in a large and varied industrialism.

Men have always wanted the Ohio lands. Indians clung to the lovely valleys of the Miamis, the Scioto, and the Muskingum for decades, in almost suicidal desperation.

The French and English battled over the Ohio country fur trade for years; moreover, both nations came to realize that this strip of land between the Ohio River and the southernmost tip of the Great Lakes was the key to the conquest of the entire Upper Mississippi Valley.

White settlers sometimes risked their scalps for a parcel of rich Ohio land that ‘needed only to be tickled with the hoe to laugh with the harvest.’

With settlement of the Far West, Ohio lands became even more coveted, for they lay along the important east-west highways and railroad lines which poured Eastern pioneers into the Western plains.

Since the coming of the Age of Steel, Ohio’s location has had fuller meaning than ever before, because iron ore comes cheaply down the lakes from Minnesota ranges, while coal comes immediately to hand from Pennsylvania and West Virginia fields; iron ore and coal mean steel, the production of which has lifted Ohio to a top place among the manufacturing States.

Into this area extended the Virginia-Pennsylvania frontier with its Scotch-Irish squatters and their characteristic indifference to legal restrictions.

Then came the New England Puritans into the valley of the Muskingum, the Western Reserve, and, by twos and threes, into practically all other parts of Ohio.

After these came all the Middle-State representatives: English Quakers, Dutch religionists of various creeds—Lutherans, Reformed, Dunkards, and United Brethren—and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians who settled the Miami Valley. Then there were the Pennsylvanians, Marylanders, Virginians, and Kentuckians, who flowed into the Virginia Military District.

From the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky came large numbers of English, Scotch-Irish, and French Huguenot descent who were dissatisfied with the institution of slavery. Some came direct from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and France.

These elements commingled, each affecting the other. And when in 1803, having the requisite population, Ohio became a State, it could be said, as of no other State at that time, that it was typically American. Throughout the nineteenth century Ohio continued to draw people from various sections of the Nation and from a variety of European countries.

Ohio is still as typically American as any State in the Union; it is neither North nor South, neither East nor West; it lies where they all meet and has characteristics and habits of all of them.

The Ohio Valley. Photograph courtesy of ’Cincinnati Enquirer.’

It is possible that the French explorer LaSalle, seeking adventure for himself and trading advantages for his countrymen, who already held a claim to Canada, penetrated the region between Lake Erie and the Ohio River as early as 1669.

Whether or not he did matters little, for his explorations were regarded as negligible by his king, Louis XIV, who, like Charles II of England, was content to think of the lands west of the Alleghenies as uncharted wilderness whose worth was problematical. Neither realized the strategic importance of the strip between the lake and the river, nor foresaw that it would become the crossroads of later French and English colonial rivalry.

However, in 1673 the French did establish nominal claims to the Ohio River an the territory north to Lake Erie, as is evidenced by maps drawn that year in Paris, which also showed Canada and the country up and down the Mississippi River.

A decade later the English, hoping to add the western fur trade to their other profitable ventures, struck a more realistic blow for possession persuading the Iroquois who occupied the region to agree to fight for the British flag. This mustering of allies was one of the preliminaries of the firs war in the series of four between Great Britain and France for possession the new colonial empire.

The first of these wars lasted from 1689 to 1697. With deference to their sovereign, the English colonists on the New York-New England frontier called the American phase of the struggle King William’s War. The scattered French and English trappers in the wilderness west of the Alleghenies were so few that the area was not mentioned in the Treaty of Ryswick (1697), by which France acknowledged defeat.

Shortly after the French had signed the treaty they established a settlement on the Gulf Coast in 1699 and another on the Detroit River in 1701, thus definitely including the Ohio Valley in their scheme of colonial aspirations. Although winning the second of the colonial wars (Queen Anne’s War, 1701-13), England permitted France to retain possession of the Mississippi Valley and the lands around the Great Lakes.

About this time various tribes of Indians, no longer afraid of the Iroquois, filtered into the area. The newcomers had hardly taken possession of the land before English traders arrived. Operating unscrupulously for the enrichment of England and the American Colonies, these men brought the potential wealth of the Ohio lands more closely to the attention of France and England.

The traders, though few in number, exerted a powerful influence over the destiny of the Ohio country. They enriched themselves and their employers and made the country a coveted territory. They stirred up trouble among the Indians. They spurred the interest of both the English and French over their respective claims; and they helped bring on a controversy among the colonies of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia over the extent of their grants in the Ohio country.

The third colonial war (1744-8) made little impression upon America. Its most important result, so far as the history of Ohio is concerned, was the creation of a working alliance between the English and the Indians.

After the third English victory was acknowledged by the Treaty of Aixla-Chapelle in 1748, the French worked hard to regain the friendship of the Indians. By now competition was sharp between the traders representing the two nations, and the outbreak of another war was imminent.

The French realized that to grasp the Ohio Valley was to hold open the door to their lands along the Mississippi. Accordingly, Celeron de Bienville journeyed about the Ohio country in 1749, burying Iead markers, shaking a warning finger under the noses of the contemptuous English traders, and trying to convince the Indians of the strength of his king, Louis XV.

In none of these purposes was Celeron successful. The formality of the interment of the lead markers has gone down in history as an empty gesture; the English traders continued to do business as usual; and Louis XV was less respected by the tribesmen than was the shrewd Pennsylvania Irishman, George Croghan, who followed in Celeron’s footsteps.

Shortly afterward the English sought to gain a tangible advantage over the French by setting up a trading post at Wills Creek (Cumberland), Maryland. With the sanction of England, a group of Virginians continued their plans to colonize some half-million acres of wilderness by means of the Ohio Land Company, organized in 1748. This entire plan accounted for the explorations of, Christopher Gist in the Ohio country in 1750 and likewise was responsible for a sharp disagreement between Virginians and Pennsylvanians.

The French seized this time of friction between the Virginians and Pennsylvanians as opportune for strengthening their position in the Ohio Valley. They regained their former prestige among the Indians by a show of force superior to that of the English, and began to construct forts up and down the Ohio River.

Robert Dinwiddie, Governor of Virginia, quickly took up this challenge to the success of the Ohio Land Company. In 1753 he dispatched young George Washington to admonish the French, but they were not impressed. Two years later, with the help of a band of Indian allies, the French almost exterminated an English and Colonial punitive expedition under Braddock.

This triumph, and others, while drawing a majority of the Indians to the side of France, eventually caused her to lose the war, for the British, aroused by the growing strength of the French west of the Alleghenies, transformed the frontier skirmishes into a major European imbroglio (the Seven Years’ War, 1756-63).

After hammering down all the French strongholds from Louisburg in Nova Scotia to Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh), they took Canada and all the French territory east of the Mississippi by the Treaty of 1763.

From the close of the war until the elimination of hostile Indians in the 1790’s, the Ohio country continued to be a battleground. Pontiac, an Ottawa chieftain with a genius for military organization, made an unsuccessful attempt in 1763 to unite the Indian tribes and slay the whites west of the Alleghenies. The English, to save the fur trade, came to his aid that same year by setting aside the territory exclusively for the Indians.

Serpent Mound.

Since the settlers were not kept back, England sought to turn the Ohio country into an inviolable part of Canada by the Quebec Act of 1774. This measure, resented intensely by the American settlers, was part of the background responsible, in the following year, for the shooting by Massachusetts farmers of British red-coats on the retreat from Concord.

The settlers felt that it was the right of any man to go out among the Indians and, at the risk of his scalp, gain a fortune or a livelihood in any manner possible.

From Charleston to Boston, the foundations of a rich man’s aristocracy were being laid by means of the profits from Ohio furs. Between the years 1778-83, George Rogers Clark assured the safety of these foundations and appeased the pangs of the land-hungry by winning the Northwest Territory for the Thirteen Colonies.

Even before Clark’s work was finished, those colonies which held no claims to the section of the territory now known as Ohio began squabbling with those in possession. The result was that all the claimant colonies except Connecticut and Virginia gave up their rights within a few years. Connecticut retained a small strip in the northeast (the Western Reserve) until 1800, while Virginia held back a parcel between the Little Miami and Scioto Rivers (the Virginia Military District) with which to pay off its war veterans.

The Land Ordinance of 1785 gave the United States possession of the land in the Ohio country, and Congress at once set about to dispose of land parcels to the highest bidder. The revenue therefrom, it was hoped, would provide funds for the new Nation and enable it to carry on its work in the hard times brought by the war.

When the United States Treasury board failed in its effort to sell an appreciable amount of the surveyed land in the Seven Ranges section, the work was turned over to the aggressive second Ohio Company. By means of the skillful salesmanship of the New England preacher-scholar-lobbyist, Manasseh Cutler, the Ohio Company and its affiliate, the Scioto Company, established the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory at Marietta in 1788.

The section of the territory between the Ohio River and Lake Erie now began its quick rise to statehood. For guidance it looked to the Ordinance of 1787, which provided for the encouragement of education, freedom of speech, press, and assembly, the prohibition of slavery, and admission to the Union as soon as the population warranted.

Cincinnati was founded in 1789 by a group of New Jersey people whom John Cleve Symmes brought to his purchase between the two Miamis. Chillicothe, founded in 1796 by Tidewater Virginians, soon became the fountainhead of Old Dominion culture west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The victims of British and Tory raids in Connecticut during the Revolution moved into the Western Reserve; Pennsylvanians came into the Seven Ranges of Iater east-central Ohio.

The Indians were appalled by the hordes of whites surging across the border, felling timber, slaughtering game, and burning villages and crops.

General Arthur St. Clair, first governor of the unorganized Northwest Territory, made an attempt to defeat the confederated tribes, but his expedition of 1791, like that of General Harman during the previous year, failed. Neither was well enough schooled in methods of frontier warfare to conduct a successful campaign against the united Indian forces.

Finally in 1794, ‘Mad Anthony’ Wayne broke the power of the confederation at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. A year later the Treaty of Greenville brought Indian warfare to a formal close in what is now Ohio.

Once the fears of Indian attacks had been set at rest and the Northwest Territory formally surrendered to the United States by England, the land filled up rapidly.

In 1799, the liberal-minded Republicans erected a governmental structure for the territory, though not without considerable opposition from the conservative Federalists who believed that the people were not yet ready for this step toward statehood.|

The feeling between the two groups ran strong, and it was over an ill-tempered legislature that Governor St. Clair, a Federalist, presided at the first meeting in Cincinnati in 1799. The 22 lawmakers, 15 of them from the territory later included in the State of Ohio, elected William Henry Harrison, a Republican, to the Congress in Washington.

Once in Congress, Harrison aided the move toward statehood and strengthened his party in the Northwest Territory by helping to secure the passage of a more democratic land law. Passed in 1800, the measure reduced by half, the minimum acreage a settler could buy, allowed four years’ credit on land payments, and set up convenient land offices at Steubenville, Marietta, Chillicothe, and Cincinnati.

Ohio Company Land Office, Marietta. The Oldest Building in the State, Erected in 1788. Photograph courtesy of State Department of Education.

The territory of Ohio became the whole of the Northwest Territory, Indiana having been cut off earlier in 1800.

Not to be outdone by the Republicans, the Federalists persuaded President Adams to reappoint St.Clair as governor. To forestall creation of a State, they introduced a bill to cut Ohio into sections so that each would be too sparsely settled for statehood. It was then that Thomas Worthington, a wealthy liberal from Chillicothe, armed himself with petitions and written expressions of public disapproval of the Federalist plan, led a group from Ohio to Washington, and succeeded in defeating the St. Clair forces.

The victorious Republicans met in convention in 1802 to adopt a constituion. Strangely out of line with frontier ideals of the rights of the common man, the document provided that all State officials (except the governor) should be appointed by the legislature, which thereby became the all-powerful instrument of State government. Edward Tiffin, a Republican from Chillicothe, in 1803 was elected first Governor of the State, an office that carried pitifully few responsibilities.

From the temporary seat of government in Chillicothe, Ohio’s first chief executive surveyed a domain about which any man of vision could be optimistic. The population, which had been 42,000 in 1800, was growing rapidly.

A college—Ohio University—had already been established (1802).

Increasing numbers of wagons filled to creaking fullness were transporting goods overland to eastern markets; 1,030 miles of crooked wagon trails had been cut by the time the State was organized in 1803.

On the river small boats carrying freight and passengers made round trips from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati in about four weeks. Flatboats bringing settlers and goods were arriving constantly at one or another of the river towns. On both sides of the stream the rich lands were already producing enough to make Cincinnati the distribution point of the Ohio Valley.

Politically Ohio was fairly evenly divided between Federalists and publicans. Chillicothe was the stronghold of the Republicans, while Marietta, which had been settled largely by New Englanders, was the center of Federalist activities. Cincinnati, fastest-growing river port, shared its loyalties.

However, as a result of a great inrush of liberal-minded pioneers during the formative years, Ohio politics soon afterward took on a liberal tinge; until 1830 the liberal-minded Republicans kept their men in the governor’s chair.

By 1810 the population of the State had increased to 230,760. Land could be bought at $2 an acre with five years to pay. Log cabins were being clapboarded over; log schools were already being replaced by the one-room red brick schoolhouses that were to be a familiar part of the Ohio scene for a hundred years.

There were a few pieces of good architecture going up:
◦ The Tupper-Ward house in Marietta, built by ship carpenters in 1803, was a splendid example of the Georgian.
◦ In the Western Reserve the New England, immigrants were reproducing in Ohio the village squares characteristic of Connecticut, and around them putting up well-designed houses similar to those they had left behind in the East.
◦ In the Virginia Military District, Southern immigrants were building red brick homes with galleries reminiscent of the South.
◦ The square courthouse with truncated hipped roof and center bell cupola, a style peculiar to Ohio’s early public buildings, was being built in the county seat towns as rapidly as the various counties were created.
◦ Church congregations in even the small communities had built simple churches where the circuit rider came to preach on the Sabbath.

The church was a social center, and it was often here that the pioneer first learned of his new neighbors, discussed the crops and the weather, and heard the latest gossip and the news. Revivals were popular, and they too were attended as often for social as for religious reasons.

Settlers given to more rollicking entertainment found it in the taverns at night, dancing the money musk and the fisher’s hornpipe, and stamping their feet to ‘Skip to My Lou’ and ‘Possum Up a Gum Stump.’

At other times the pioneer mixed work with fun in cabin- or barn-raisings which were always times of dancing, song, and merriment.

All in all, however, the life of the Ohio pioneer was a lonely one, full of hard work and little recreation.

Schoenbrunn settlement.

In 1811, just before the outbreak of the War of 1812, two important events occurred, both of them to have important effects on Ohio pioneer economy.

First came the demise of the First Bank of the United States, which was the signal for the uncontrolled issue of wildcat bank notes.

Secondly, the ’Orleans,’ first steamboat on western waters, traveled down the Ohio, bewildering the river settlers and foreshadowing a new era of commerce, an era of particular meaning to Ohio, bounded on the south by the river and on the north by the lake. The use of steam as a source of power also heralded the end of the water mills.

One of the incidental effects of the War of 1812, but one important to Ohio, was that it made presidential timber of William Henry Harrison, a Virginia-born Ohioan who drew the National spotlight to Ohio a few decades later.

Of more immediate importance was the extravagant Government spending. For the first time large sums of money circulated on the frontier. Ohio contributed more than its quota of men to help win the war (25,000), and gave $350,000 to the war fund.

In the period that followed, Ohio experienced its first boom days. Steamboating on the Ohio became a serious business; 76 steamers were launched on the Ohio-Mississippi waterway between 1815 and 1819. Immense quantities of pork, whisky, cheese, flour, and other products of the State went down the river to New Orleans and up the river to Pittsburgh.

Ohio’s population swelled from 250,000 to 500,000 in 10 years, an increase caused chiefly by the ‘Ohio fever’ (as it was called in Connecticut), which depopulated whole villages in the East and sent emigrants by the tens of thousands into Ohio.

The boom brought about road and bridge building, but not enough to satisfy the demand of the interior farmers who were producing more farm goods than they could dispose of.

While these farmers were still grumbling about lack of transportation, rumors drifted into Ohio about the Erie Canal which was being dug in New York. An Ohio system of canals was immediately conceived and proposed, and Governor Ethan Allen Brown, a Republican from Hamilton County, assumed the leadership in the canal campaign.

While enthusiasm for the canals was running high, the boom era came abruptly to an end in the crash of 1818, bringing Ohio its first stern lesson of depression; hard times lasted into the 1820’s—until the government ‘spent its way out’ by building canals, roads, and bridges.

Most spectacular of these public improvements were, of course, the canals. Through the financial genius of Alfred Kelley of Columbus, money for the first canals was raised. Brown’s dream of a system of State-owned canals began to take on the aspect of exciting reality when on July 4, 1825, Dewitt Clinton, chief sponsor of the Erie Canal, came over from Albany, New York, to Licking Summit, a point near Newark, to turn the first spadeful of dirt and thus inaugurate the construction of canals in the State.

To provide funds for canals, roads, bridges, and other public works a tax law was passed in 1825 which gathered in so much revenue that in 1831 the State auditor exulted, ‘The receipts from taxation annually exceed our calculations.’

Passed at the same time as the 1825 tax law was a bill furthering a more democratic system of education by providing that one-half mill out of every tax dollar should be set aside for school purposes. School education at the time was largely limited to the mastery of reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Pioneer life was concerned with problems of a physical world, and there was little attention given to cultural subjects.

While Mrs. Frances Trollope’s remarks on the culture of Cincinnatians (whom she observed very closely from 1829-31) are probably too harsh, they give a picture of the people that has its share of truth. The crudeness of the people she met—’the incessant remorseless spitting Americans’—was to her at times almost unbearable. She was disgusted by the smell of onions and whisky in the theater, and the ‘thumping of feet instead of clapping.’ Cincinnati was a town of butchers and brewers, river roustabouts, farmers, and new immigrants.

To Mrs. Trollope it seemed that those Cincinnatians who weren’t crude were prudish. She complained of this prudishness that made ‘the larger proportion of females deem it an offense against religion to witness the representation of a play.’

‘And Shakespeare, sir?’ she asked of a Cincinnati gentleman and scholar.

‘Shakespeare, Madam, is obscene, and, thank God, we are sufficiently advanced to have found it out! If we must have the abomination of stage plays, let them at least be marked by the refinement of the age in which we live.’

Fort Harmar, at the mouth of the Muskingum (1785. Reproduction courtesy of U.S. Army Signal Corps.

In the late 1820’s the first cleavage between labor and capital appeared in Ohio’s industry. For the pioneer there had been no classes and no workers’ problems. But the need of some sort of protective organization among employees appeared with the widespread unemployment in the early 1820’s, and in 1828 the first real labor union was organized by the printers in Cincinnati. In 1831 one of the first labor papers in the United States, the ’Working Man’s Shield,’ was published, also at Cincinnati.

There were further evidences of restlessness among the laboring class in the early 1830’s. Walk-outs occurred in Cincinnati, and there was grumbling in Columbus over the contract-labor system at Ohio penitentiary. In 1836 the first Ohio strike was recorded when the Cincinnati Harnessmakers’ Union struck for more money and a 10-hour day.

Ohio avoided the real pinch of the 1837 panic by passing in that year its famous Loan Law, by which the credit of the State could be loaned to railroad companies, and which authorized the State under certain conditions to subscribe to the stock of canal, bridge, and turnpike corporations. This brought considerable activity until it was repealed in 1840.

The 1830’s saw a wave of building construction in the Greek Revival style, much of it architecturally pleasing. Before the decade closed, ground was broken for a new statehouse in Columbus (1839), which when finished 22 years later closed the era of the Greek Revival in Ohio.

The 1830’s saw the rise and fall of one of the most interesting religious groups in the history of the State. There have been Shakers, Mennonites, and Dunkards in Ohio, but none ever gripped the fancy of the people as did Joseph Smith and the Mormons.

Smith arrived in Kirtland in 1831 with only a handful of followers. He scoured the countryside for converts, and soon several thousand men and women had turned to Mormonism. It was the hope of Smith to make Kirtland a great Mormon city, but he became involved in financial trouble after failure of his Kirtland bank in 1837.

Threatened with arrest if he stayed, Smith hastily left Ohio in 1838, many of his converts later following him to Missouri. Smith’s sojourn in Ohio was a tempestuous one, but his church had its first growth here.

In 1840 Ohio sent its first President to the White House—William Henry Harrison, a Virginia-born Ohio resident with a colorless but unclouded political record. Ohio rang with the campaign song, ‘Tippecanoe and Tyler Too.’ (Tippecanoe was the nickname given Harrison after his famous victory at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811; Tyler was Harrison’s running mate.) The log cabin and hard cider became the symbols for the rough-and-ready idealism of the pioneers who had elected him.

The year of the election saw the repeal of the Loan Law. Activity in road building and canal digging tapered off to almost nothing, and for most of the 1840’s business was in the doldrums. But slack times did not stop immigration into Ohio; conditions were worse in Europe and in the East.

In addition to those who came from New England—settling mostly in the Western Reserve—there were large numbers from Ireland and Germany and other European countries, whence they fled either from economic pressure or religious persecution.

Ohio by the mid-century had little German towns, Swiss villages, Finnish settlements along the lake, and many other nationality groups who found something to their taste in Ohio with its wide variety of activities. The influx of Irish and Germans altered somewhat the religious pattern of the State.

Until the mid-century northern Ohio had been principally Congregationalist and Presbyterian and southern Ohio predominantly Methodist and Baptist. But the Roman Catholic church was established as one of the important faiths with the immigration of the Irish, as was the Lutheran church with the coming of the Germans.

Cincinnati (1860). Photograph by courtesy of U. S. Army Signal Corps.

Few railroad tracks had been laid or were being laid in the State during the early 1840’s, but the practicability of the steam wagon had been shown to Ohioans in 1836, and before the 1840-50 decade ended, a great railroad- building boom was getting under way.

The canal carried 26 times as much freight in 1850 as the railroads, yet ten years later twice as much freight was being hauled on the railroads as on the canals. The change had come swiftly; in the 1850’s the canals were considered ‘old-fashioned.’ In fact, all ways of transportation except the railroad suddenly became out of date.

Stage lines disappeared overnight. The famous Ohio Stage Company failed in 1857. This company, which had maintained a virtual monopoly over the stage business between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi, sold its coaches to a Western stage company just before the Civil War. So far as Ohio was concerned, picturesque stagecoach days were over, although stage lines continued for many years on routes not served by railroads.

With the railroads opening up the plains of northern Ohio to development, Cincinnati’s pre-eminence was threatened. The effects were not immediately felt, however, and in the 1850’s steamboating on the Ohio was still a business of fabulous freight tonnage and passenger traffic. Cincinnati ‘Porkopolis,’ with a population of 150,000, was the biggest meatpacking center in the United States.

Hardly had the tracks of the first Ohio railroads been put down when a new mechanical wonder appeared—the magnetic telegraph. In 1847 the legislature passed an act permitting telegraph companies to erect lines along roads and streets ‘so long as they did not incommode the public.’ By the end of the year Columbus had telegraph service and its first daily newspaper.

Coincident with the spectacular progress in transportation and communication, the legislature was making important changes in government. Internal improvements were shifted from the State to local subdivisions by an act of 1846 in which counties were authorized to hold a referendum whenever the county commissioners wanted to subscribe for stock in railroad, turnpike, bridge, or similar corporations.

A State Bank of Ohio was established with 17 branch banks, and 9 so-called independent banks were chartered, giving strength to the money institutions which had been weak since the panic of 1837.

In 1846 the legislature introduced the general property tax in modern form.

A new State constitution, drawn up in 1850, included two particularly important provisions—one, the popular election of State officials, the other, the ‘general incorporation act’ which relieved the legislative body from work that till then had taken up a large share of its time.

In 1852 the legislature passed the first law in the United States for the regulation of working hours of women and children; the act, however, was loosely drawn and of little value.

While Cincinnati and other southern Ohio towns had strong commercial ties with the South, the sentiment in southern Ohio as well as in the Yankee Western Reserve was generally against slavery. An abolitionist society had been organized in Ohio as early as 1815, and in 1821 Benjamin Lundy was publishing the antislavery ’Genius of Universal Emancipation’ at Mount Pleasant.

An early center of abolitionist agitation was the Lane Seminary in Cincinnati, a training school for Presbyterian ministers. Citizens of the town—while generally sympathetic with the Negro—resented the school’s tactics of ‘fomenting trouble.’ Feeling eventually became so strong between citizens and students that the Reverend Lyman Beecher, head of the seminary and a moderate antislavery man, ordered an end to abolitionist work and discussion.

Thereupon a number of students with some of the faculty, including Professor Theodore Weld, quit the seminary in 1833 in protest. Going to Oberlin in the strongly abolitionist Western Reserve they founded Oberlin College, the first co-racial and coeducational college in America. Other students, disciples of Weld, traveled through the northwest, preaching abolition and rousing the people against slavery.

Meanwhile Cincinnati’s antislavery sentiment became stronger and stronger in spite of the city’s economic bonds with the South. It was the big Underground Railroad center along the Mason-Dixon line, and the home of its ‘president,’ Levi Coffin.

The State as a whole was so hostile to ‘slave-snatchers’ and so friendly to the fugitive Negro that Ohio was almost as much a synonym for freedom as was Canada. The State became a powerful factor in the National Struggle. Joshua R. Giddings led the abolitionist bloc in the House of Representatives during the 20 years he served there, while Senator Salmon P. Chase of Cincinnati fought in the upper house.

Levi Coffin, ’President’ of the Underground Railroad, Receiving Fugitive Slaves. Reproduction of an old print in the Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom, by Wilbur H. Sievert.

Another radical Republican was Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War and a native of Steubenville. Stanton and Giddings were converts of Weld, who had climaxed his career by going to Washington as a private citizen and organizing the great antislavery bloc in 1841-3, which repealed the gag law Southern Congressmen had used to squelch opposition.

It was from an abolitionist pamphlet written by Weld that the history- making ’Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ was conceived by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Much of the dramatic action that wrought havoc with the tender sensibilities of the age was based on actual incident. This included the crossing of Eliza and her child over the ice, said to be the crossing of Eliza Harris, a fugitive, over the Ohio River.

Except for the slavery issue, Ohio in those years just before the Civil War was happier and more prosperous than it had ever been. Industry boomed. Railroad building reached a peak it has never approached since. Money was prodigally plentiful.

The first of the railroad panics (1854) was taken in stride. The more serious 1857 panic found the money system, steadied by the strong State Bank of Ohio, able to weather the storm. It had a sobering effect on speculators, however, and a period of calm preceded the Civil War, when Government spending brought ‘good times’ again.

As soon as Lincoln called to the Nation for 75,000 volunteers, Ohio responded with 30,000—more than twice the State’s quota. Within three days the Ohio legislature, by unanimous vote, appropriated more than $1,000,000 for war purposes. By the beginning of the first summer of the war, Ohio’s revamped militia, under the guidance of General McClellan, chased Lee’s small force of Virginians out of the mountains of western Virginia and secured that section for the Union.

In the fall elections, partisan politics in Ohio were all but abolished, thus bringing about the formation of the Unionist Party.

In 1862, however, when victory looked doubtful and the Federal call for soldiers became more insistent, there was a reversal of sentiment; fault-finders inveighed against the Administration, and conscripts balked at the Prospect of Southern graves.

Clement L. Vallandigham, of Dayton, became the leader of a rival party, the Peace Democrats—better remembered as the Copperheads. When the Ohio casualties of the Shiloh slaughter were counted by the thousands, and every available man labored to save Cincinnati from the threat of capture by Generals Kirby Smith and Braxton Bragg, it was necessary to take intolerant wartime measures to silence those who showed Southern sympathies.

Ohioans resented these measures, and enthusiasm waned among the people, particularly with Lincoln’s issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. In 1862 Ohio sent an almost solid Democratic group to Congress.

With the continued failure of the Union armies to gain advantage in the field, the Peace Democrats became more articulate in their threats to civil and military solidarity in Ohio. Vallandigham grew so defiant that he was seized by military order and sentenced to imprisonment for the duration of the war, a sentence which Lincoln commuted to banishment to the Confederacy.

As an exile, Vallandigham immediately became a martyr to his partisans back home. In 1863 the Peace Democrats, having seized control of the Democratic Party in Ohio, nominated the exiled Vallandigham as their candidate for governor.

Soon after the nomination Vallandigham escaped from the South and established campaign headquarters at Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side. He was defeated in the election, but polled nearly 200,000 votes, a showing that Lincoln declared ‘a discredit to the country.’

On the whole, however, Ohio’s wartime patriotism could hardly be criticized: the State gave the Union Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan, and sent 340,000 enlisted men—more than half those in the State between the ages of 18 and 60 who were fit to serve.

The Vallandigham saga is rivaled by another exciting Civil War chapter—the famous Morgan’s Raid which has become a part of the Ohio legend. In July 1863, General John Morgan and his cavalry of 2,460 Confederates swept into the State just west of Cincinnati bent on an expedition of plunder.

Hotly pursued by Union forces, and unable to make an Ohio River crossing into friendly territory when the pace got too hot, Morgan and his men circled the entire southern border of the State and were deep into northern Ohio before they were finally captured at Salineville in Columbiana County.

The dramatic episode reached an anticlimax the following November when Morgan and six of his riders, who had been incarcerated in the Ohio Penitentiary at Columbus, tunneled their way under the prison walls and escaped to the South.

Morgan’s Raid—Entry of Morgan’s Freebooters into Washington, Ohio, July, 1863. Photograph by courtesy of Cincinnati Public Library.

Ohio experienced a rapidly changing economy after the Civil War. With the shift westward of the grain-growing centers, industries directly dependent on agriculture experienced a downward trend. The meat-packing industry, which had been centered in Cincinnati for half a century, followed the agricultural shift to Chicago, which went out in front of Cincinnati as a meat packer in 1885.

Agricultural-machinery plants—which boomed in Ohio during the Civil War and for a decade or so thereafter—eventually found new locations closer to the center of the great farming regions of the West. Before the farm-machinery plants went west, however, they had made industrial cities out of several Ohio towns, notably Springfield.

The Ohio farmer maintained an important position in the production of corn, wheat, cattle, and hogs, but lost his first-place ranking to the vast Western States which were opened up when the railroads were put through in the post-Civil War years.

As new industry to replace those that were lost was already at hand. It was an industry based on the iron mines of northern Michigan and the Lake Superior ore region, and upon the coal mines of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, rather than on Ohio’s limited farmland.

One of the most striking results of the new economy was the movement of greatest industrial activity away from the Ohio River region to the lake shore, and the vast expansion of Cleveland.

Cincinnati, which had been Ohio’s metropolis since settlement days, now found itself unable to keep pace with the city on the lake, and it was not many years before it became Ohio’s second city.

Cleveland had become the oil-refining center of the United States in 1870 when John D. Rockefeller organized the Standard Oil Company. In the 1870’s and 1880’s it began to boom with converters and furnaces; moreover, it became a shipping center of the essentials of steel making—iron ore and coal.

Cleveland was not the only town in the favorably located northeastern section of Ohio to take up the manufacture of steel and the handling of ore and coal for the manufacture of steel. Lorain, Ashtabula, and Conneaut became important lake ports, and Youngstown—50 miles south of the lake—became a center for a steel-making district that is now the second-largest producing area in the country.

The advent of steel mills into the quiet Western Reserve changed the aspect of the little New England towns, not only displacing the cheese manufacturing plants and similar local industries in many instances, but also attracting large numbers of foreigners to the mills—Italians, Hungarians, Poles, Czechs, Rumanians, and Slavs—changing the entire character of the people who till then had been almost pure Anglo-Saxon stock out of New England.

Rows of cheap company houses appeared in the towns along with the mills. There came to be a right side and a wrong side of the railroad tracks.

With the rise of big business there emerged a class of newly rich, who. Stood in awe of such cultural pursuits as painting, music, architecture, the theater, and in fact education in general. Colleges sprang up like mushrooms.

There was an orgy of bad architecture with as poor interpretation of Victorian Gothic, French Mansard, and the like, as any other State could produce, and as much overuse of unsightly jig-saw ornament as could be imagined.

The rich industrialist and merchant prince usually liked to consider himself a patron of the arts. His most spectacular contribution was in the form of opera houses, which, if not beautiful, were at least elaborate and costly and helped bring actors to Ohio.

Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio.

As the wave of industrialism surged upward and business became predominant, Ohio government and the men who led it changed. The old generation died soon after the Civil War:
◦ Congressman Giddings, abolitionist leader;
◦ Samuel Medary, hated Peace-Democrat who had opposed Lincoln;
◦ Tom C. (Wagon-Boy) Corwin, Ohio Governor and Secretary of the Treasury;
◦ David Tod, great wartime Governor, supporter of Lincoln, and founder of the steel industry at Youngstown;
◦ Thomas Ewing, Secretary of the Treasury;
◦ Clement L. Vallandigham, Peace-Democrat Congressman and Southern sympathizer; and
◦ Senator Chase, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury.

Chase, the last of them, died in 1873.

With industrialism there arose a new type of politician, whose dealings gave rise to abuse, scandal, and corruption. In the 1880’s ‘boss government’ flourished, and for a quarter of a century two men, Mark Hanna of Cleveland and George B. Cox of Cincinnati, each boss of his own city, despotically controlled the government of the State.

Hanna was an iron-master who went into politics to protect his business interests, then made it his life work. Cox was a saloonkeeper. Both were millionaires. At first they quarreled, but later compromised, Hanna taking over the northern part of the State as his domain, and Cox the southern. They named Ohio’s National representatives and officials.

Their day was one of almost unchecked abuse, not only in politics but also in all fields of business. Exploitation was ruthless. The men whom the bosses named to public office represented the bosses and the businesses behind them. Governor Joseph B. Foraker was a railroad speculator; Senator Henry B. Payne was an associate of Rockefeller; and Senator Calvin S. Price was an associate of the Chase National Bank of New York.

Hanna’s spectacular career reached a climax in 1896 when his protege, William McKinley, of Canton, was elected President of the United States over the vigorous free-silver campaign of William Jennings Bryan. At that time Hanna approached more closely than any other man in history to being ‘boss’ of the United States. The tenseness and excitement in the Ohio political arena during the heyday of the Mark Hanna regime is related in Croly’s ’Marcus Alonzo Hanna:’

‘Columbus came to resemble a mediaeval city given over to an angry feud between armed partisans. Everybody was worked up . . . Blows were exchanged in the hotels and on the streets. There were threats of assassination. Timid men feared to go out after dark.’

A United States Senator, Hanna died in 1904 while still at the height of his career; at the time he was considered a possible presidential candidate. In Cincinnati, Cox held his throne until 1914. The Spanish-American War, which came while Hanna was riding the crest, brought little more than a flutter of excitement, so far as Ohio was concerned.

While the age of Hanna and Cox was one of privilege unchecked and graft a commonplace in street railways and other utilities, the period was not without those who had the courage to strike back.

Labor, particularly, made itself felt at this time. Its answer to the corruption in government and the high-handed and autocratic attitude of employers came in the form of the violent Cincinnati riots in 1884, the bitter Hocking Valley strike of 1884 during which the disastrous New Straitsville mine fire was set, and the Knights of Labor strike for the eight-hour day in May 1886.

Not all of the many strikes of the 1880’s and 1890’s were successful, but the bonds of organization among labor were becoming stronger, and it was becoming clear that the worker was scrutinizing with more critical interest his place in the economic picture.

In the meantime movements for reform in government were also becoming stronger. As early as 1882 Senator Pendleton, an associate of the pre-war reformers of Cincinnati, wrote the Civil Service Act, the basis of civil service as we know it today. Senator John Sherman of Ohio, brother of the Civil War general, fathered the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890, the first of the antimonopoly statutes, and of major importance to Ohio as home of many industries already mushrooming into monopoly power.

Two years later the Ohio supreme court found the Standard Oil Company of Cleveland guilty of violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act; the trust, however, was not dissolved until 1899.

The reform legislation of the 1890’s eased the way for the muckrakers, Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell, who stirred up popular indignation and led the way to reform in Ohio’s big cities.

Steffens and Tarbell were working a rich vein when they started to uncover the evils of bossism in Ohio’s cities in the early 1900’s. Under the regime of Boss Cox, Cincinnati was the ‘most corrupt and worst governed City in the country.’

City government in Toledo and Cleveland was little better.

It was inconceivable that the corrupt systems could continue once the muckrakers had exposed them, and, fortunately enough, Ohio at this crucial time found itself possessed of the greatest group of municipal leaders the State had known. ‘Golden Ruie’ Jones turned the machine out at Toledo; he was succeeded by Brand Whitlock, who added to Jones’s reform administration.

At Cleveland, Tom Johnson, businessman and reformer, aided by Newton D. Baker, gave the lake city’s civic affairs a wholesome aspect in sharp contrast to the surcharged political atmosphere of the Mark Hanna era; whereupon Steffens pronounced the city the best-governed in the country.

At Cincinnati, Henry Hunt and later a coalition tore Boss Cox loose from his notorious hold on the city government.

Incidentally, it was during the Jones-Whitlock and Tom Johnson regimes that municipal utilities came to the fore.

Findlay (1885). Drawing by Charles Graham in ’Harper’s Weekly.’ Reproduced by courtesy of Smithsonian Institution.

Ohio’s progressive spirit was felt in State as well as in municipal affairs. In 1911 the Workmen’s Compensation Law was enacted, and in the following year Ohio’s fourth constitutional convention modernized the State constitution; adoption of initiative and referendum provisions is generally regarded as its most significant and far-reaching contribution. A year later a ‘blue-sky’ securities measure was passed by the State assembly.

In the spring of the following year Ohio experienced the worst floods in its history. The steady downpour of rain began on Easter Sunday 1913. Before the week was over, 20,000 homes were completely destroyed and 35,000 rendered uninhabitable, 104 municipalities were inundated, and 430 lives were lost; property damage was more than $250 million.

The greatest damage and loss of life was in the Miami Valley, particularly at Dayton. Daytonians at once set themselves to find a solution for the floods that had harassed the city since its early days. A survey revealed that the entire Miami watershed must be included in any flood-control measure.

This involved legal problems that could be solved only by State legislation. The result was the Ohio Conservancy Law of 1914, looked upon today as a model of flood-control legislation.

It was in 1914 also that the legislature passed a law permitting the consolidation of county school districts, which, together with the school centralization law of 1898, was the legal basis for gradual extinction of ‘the little red schoolhouse,’ once as familiar among the Ohio’s hills as the cornfields and the clover.

While Ohio kept one eye on reforms in the 1900-1915 period, it kept the other eye on industry. Cities kept growing and factories got bigger.
◦ Cleveland was on its way to becoming the world’s largest steel-products center, and it was handling vastly increasing amounts of iron ore and coal.
◦ Cincinnati soap was being shipped to all parts of the world;
◦ Dayton’s cash registers were ringing wherever there was merchandise to sell;
◦ the glass industry and lake and railroad commerce were building Toledo;
◦ Akron was preening itself for the war years, getting its rubber plants in shape for the boom;
◦ increasing orders for steel kept the skies red over Youngstown mills.

Ohio had a prominent part in the fevered American scene of World War days. In all, 245,000 Ohio men were in the service, nearly 7,000 of whom died in action. Ohio contributed the 4th Regiment of the Ohio National Guard to the famous Rainbow Division, which participated in combat service in France early in July 1918.

The 37th Division, however, was the most thoroughly representative of Ohio on the field of battle. The division saw action in the Baccarat sector, Alsace-Lorraine salient; captured Montfaucon in the vicinity of Verdun; and was under fire in the St. Mihiel sector.

Eddie Rickenbacker, who brought down more enemy planes than any other American flier in the war, was a Columbus boy.

At Chillicothe, Camp Sherman, one of the great American training cantonments, was erected overnight. When Spanish influenza hit the camp, 1,100 of the 50,000 recruits died of the disease.

◦ Ohio subscribed $1,333,000,000 in Liberty Bonds.
◦ Dayton made 4,000 war airplanes;
◦ Lima built army trucks;
◦ Youngstown and Cleveland supplied vast quantities of steel;
◦ Cincinnati worked day and night producing milling machines for the manufacture of war equipment;
◦ Akron supplied rubber tires and observation balloons (Akron’s industrial output jumped nearly 600 per cent between 1914 and 1920)

Every city in the State turned some of its factories to war-materials manufacture. Ohio bulged with the prosperity of war orders.

During the war decade its population increased by a million and Ohio witnessed a new kind of immigration when farm boys from Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia hills swarmed into the cities to work in the shops. On vaudeville stages a familiar gag was a reference to Akron as ‘Akron, West Virginia.’

With the heavy influx from the South came an army of Negroes, who increased from 100,000 in 1910 to 300,000 in 1930.

It was during the tension of the feverish war days that Ohioans went to the polls and abolished the saloon. From 1873, when the Women’s Temperance Crusade had its lively inception at Hillsboro, the State had been in the vanguard in the fight for local and national prohibition.

Westerville, chosen as national headquarters of the Anti-Saloon League (founded at Oberlin in 1893), became known as the capital of world prohibition activities.

In 1910, two years after the Rose Law, a local option measure, had been adopted by the Ohio legislature, local elections resulted in 58 of the State’s 88 counties voting dry.

But the whole of Ohio did not abolish the saloon until 1918, when the prohibitionists won by a majority of 25,739, after repeated failures at the polls.

President William Howard Taft and his Family. Photograph by courtesy of Senator Robert Taft.

The feminist crusade for suffrage triumphed in 1919, the year of national prohibition, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. In 1922 the first women were elected to the Ohio legislature, two to the senate and four to the lower house. Florence E. Allen, elected to the State supreme court in the same year, was the first woman in the country to sit on such a tribunal.

The immediate postwar years found Ohio repeatedly in the national spotlight. In 1919 the Cincinnati Reds won the World Series over the Chicago White Sox, only to find themselves involved in baseball’s worst scandal, members of the White Sox having been bribed by professional gamblers to lose the series to the Cincinnatians.

At Toledo that same summer Jack Dempsey, ‘the Manassa Mauler,’ battered huge Jess Willard into ringdom oblivion to take the world’s heavyweight title.

In the presidential campaign of 1920 national attention was centered on Ohio, for both Republican and Democratic candidates were from here—Warren G. Harding from Marion and James M. Cox from Dayton. President Harding kept the State in the political limelight until his death in 1923, although the State’s political glory was dimmed during his Administration by the exposure of the ‘Ohio Gang’ as betrayers of the high office to which the President had appointed them.

Ohio found its major interest in the increasingly complex pattern of technological progress. The rambling sheds of the steel mills kept spreading in the Mahoning Valley and over the ‘flats’ in Cleveland. In the automobile industry Ohio was second only to Michigan; Cleveland and Toledo were the biggest centers. Chandler, Willys-Knight, Cleveland, Westcott, Overland, Moon, Winton—all were Ohio automobiles.

Thousands of miles of dirt highways were hard-surfaced to stand up under the heavier load of traffic and to quiet the clamor of automobile clubs and such organizations as the Ohio Farm Bureau (organized in 1919) which wanted better farm-to-market roads.

The development of good roads and the gasoline engine brought bus and truck lines. The ‘singing trolleys,’ which formed a network of 3,000 miles over the State at the end of the war, gave ground steadily to the more flexible carrier, and by 1939 only 200 miles remained.

Radio broadcasting stations made their appearance in the early 1920’s, although listeners with their crystals and ‘cat-whiskers’ had been listening to the broadcasts of KDKA at nearby Pittsburgh (the Nation’s first station) as early as 1920.

While a radio license (first in the United States) had been issued to a Cincinnatian in 1911, nearly all of Ohio’s major stations today were founded in the period 1921-4. The Crosley Radio Corporation at Cincinnati started production of cheap receiving sets early in the 1920’S and greatly popularized the pastime of ‘listening in.’

Unsatisfactory as reception was in those years, there were thousands who turned to it for entertainment. It was just one more form of entertainment with which the theater had to compete for patronage. The moving picture had already drawn heavily from the legitimate theater.

Vaudeville, burlesque, and road shows were still running in the bigger cities, but it was a struggle for survival. To save the stage, little theater groups were organized—one of the most successful in the country being at Cleveland.

Other forms of art were faring better than the theater. The noted Toledo Museum of Art was augmented by new buildings and priceless additions to its collection. Dayton built a beautiful gallery and institute in 1928; Columbus did likewise in 1931. The important and well-established museums at Cincinnati and Cleveland added to their collections.

Cleveland’s new symphony orchestra (1918) under the direction of Nikolai Sokoloff took its place beside the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Nation’s other important symphonic groups. At Dayton in 1926 the famous Westminster Choir was founded.

In the most articulate of the creative arts—writing—Ohio contributed significant voices that found their fullest audience in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Among these Ohio-born writers were Sherwood Anderson, Louis Bromfield, Jim Tully, Hart Crane, James Thurber, and William R. Burnett.

Several shocking catastrophes focused fleeting moments of attention on the State during the decade, the first of which came the evening of June 28, 1924, when a tornado swept in from Lake Erie and cut a swathe through Lorain, killing 75, injuring 1,037, and damaging property to the extent of $25 million. The Cleveland Clinic explosion on May 15, 1929, resulted in the death of 124.

During the following year, there were two other catastrophes. On April 21, 1930, occurred the Ohio Penitentiary fire in which 320 convicts lost their lives. The following November 5 the State’s worst mine disaster at Millfield in Athens County took the lives of 82 men.

Ulysses S. Grant Schoolhouse, Georgetown. Photograph by Gertrude Shockey.

The prosperity of the 1920’s, which came to an end in the fall of 1929, had seen factories sprawl to immensity and skyscrapers soar to breathtaking heights. Hundreds of farms at the edge of the cities became subdivision projects; Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo, and Dayton reached far into the country.

At Cleveland the Van Sweringen brothers, who pyramided rail holdings into a vast railroad empire, left a personal symbol of high finance in the $179 million terminal group of buildings whose central tower rose to 52 stories.

At Columbus the $8 million American Insurance Union building, completed in 1927, dominated the mid-Ohio skyline with its 47 stories, while at Cincinnati the Carew Tower, completed four years later, topped the capital’s skyscraper by one story.

Other great engineering triumphs loomed upon the Ohio landscape:
◦ the huge Ohio Stadium in Columbus,
◦ the municipal stadium in Cleveland,
◦ the Cincinnati Union Terminal,
◦ mighty bridges which spanned the rivers of Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo, and
◦ the colossal airdock at Akron, where the two ill-fated dirigibles, ’Akron’ and ’Macon,’ were built.

The 1929 depression hit hardest in the northern industrial cities—Cleveland, Youngstown, Akron, and Toledo—although Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati had their breadlines.

Fires in steel converters and brick kilns died out, some of them never to be relighted. Intensely industrialized valleys, like the Mahoning, became ghastly without the outpour of smoke from the stacks. Those factories which did continue to operate often cut pay rolls to the bone and slashed wages. Miles of freight cars rusted on their sidings.

The number of wage earners dropped from 740,000 in 1929 to 472,000 in 1933. Industrial production valued at $5 billion in 1929 dropped to $3.3 billion in 1933.

Thousands of potential college youths went ‘on the bum’ or loafed on street corners. Enrollment at Ohio State, the largest university, dropped more than a thousand from 1929 to 1933.

There was hunger in the cities. Delinquent tax lists grew. Evictions of families into the street were not uncommon.

While the farmer did not suffer from hunger, his plight was as tragic as that of the city dweller. Farm prices were so low that the farmer was constantly operating at a loss. His farming machinery was heavily mortgaged and his farm ready to go under the sheriff’s hammer.

Mortgages were foreclosed and the farmer was dispossessed. If he stayed on the farm he lost his independence and became a renter. If he went to the city he faced an even more frightening prospect than the man accustomed to life there.

The alphabetical agencies that came with the inauguration of the New Deal in 1933 breathed new hope into idle industrial towns. Ohio received a liberal share of funds provided by FERA, CWA, CCC, AAA, HOLC, WPA, and PWA. Farm-to-market roads, schoolhouses, sewage disposal plants, stadiums, post offices, city halls, housing projects, and airports were products of the vast spending program.

By far the most spectacular of the public works undertaken in the troubled 1930’s was the flood-control and water-conservation project in eastern Ohio’s Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, started in 1934 and completed in 1938 at a cost of $43,500,000. The great Ohio River flood of the winter of 1937— with a flood front of 400 miles—brought to national attention the importance of the Muskingum project.

As one of the great industrial States, Ohio was in the forefront of the NRA drive and its unionization phase that saw labor organized on an unprecedented scale. Later when labor’s house became divided, the C.I.O. and A.F. of L., divergent camps of the movement, became symbols as familiar to Ohioans as those of the governmental agencies.

Ohio’s great strikes attracted national attention. Troops were sent to the bitterly contested Auto-Lite strike at Toledo in 1934, and to the even more violent ‘little steel’ strike centered at Youngstown in 1937. Akron’s sit-down strikes (1935-6), involving all three of the large rubber plants, were a part of the difficult period when both labor and employer were trying to adjust themselves to the prolonged years of hard times.

Through the troubled but brightening 1930’s the State reasserted its characteristic roles: of political activities that are intense and often transcend its bounds, and of industry of a large and unending diversity that explains the State’s many sizable cities, unequaled in number in any other State.

As usual, as a presidential election approaches, Ohio has her favorite sons who are regarded with more than ordinary esteem by party strategists.

In industry the unsettled years have little discouraged the resourcefulness and new directions of manufacture, witnessing the beginning of many potentially great industries.

New products such as Dayton’s air-conditioning equipment, Toledo’s glass building-blocks, Middletown’s and Troy’s steel houses, Newark’s glass wool, Cambridge’s plastics, Akron’s rubber mattresses, Cleveland’s and Springfield’s Diesel engines, and Toledo’s new economy automobile are some of the auguries indicating Ohio’s future place in the Nation’s economic life.

The $3,000,000 improvement program of one of Akron’s large rubber plants and the vast improvements and expansion of great steel plants speak well for the vitality of Ohio’s industry.

The time may be not so far away when the hope of Caleb Atwater, penned a hundred years ago, can be fulfilled: ‘Our position in the Nation,’ Atwater wrote in 1838, ‘is peculiarly felicitous, as to soil, climate and productions, and it will be our own fault if we are not the happiest people in the Union.’

Four cronies—left to right—Henry Ford and Thomas A. Edison with Ohioan President Warren G. Harding and Ohio tire manufacturer, Harvey B. Firestone. Photograph by courtesy of Firestone Tire And Rubber Company.
William Henry Harrison, President of the United States. Photograph by courtesy of Cincinnati Public Library.
President William McKinley on the front porch of his home in Canton Ohio. Photograph by courtesy of ’Canton Repository.’
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