Reference Blog Entries

Ohio in Past Presidential Campaigns

Laura's picture

Black and white presidential campaign button for William McKinleyOhio has seen its share of political campaigns eight of which resulted in the election of favorite sons. Before there were television ads and mass mailings, robocalls and other high tech tactics there were buttons, badges, flags and banners that presidential hopefuls used to spread the word.

The Ohio History Connection, the official museum and library for the State of Ohio, is located on the Ohio State Fairgrounds and publishes a quarterly magazine called Timeline. The current issue features examples of Ohio campaign memorabilia from the museum collection. You can find the magazine on the shelves in the Reference Department of the Upper Arlington Public Library.

There are two more interesting articles about Ohio’s political past in the current issue. One is Moment of Decision; Joshua R. Giddings and the 1860 Republican Convention by John Patterson. Ohio native Giddings, an ardent anti-slavery advocate and Congressman from Jefferson, Ohio had a dramatic impact on the Republican National Convention of 1860.

The other is William McKinley: A Sense of Duty by Republican campaign strategist and historian Karl Rove. Rove expounds on the campaign of 1896 when McKinley ran against William Jennings Bryan. He states that McKinley was “uniquely suited for the moment” to guide the country’s growth and modernization. In the article he draws from his recent book The Triumph of William McKinley, Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters

As we await the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland July 18 - 21, we can read fascinating accounts of campaigns of earlier eras and compare them to our own.

Cover of Karl Rove's Book titled The Triumph of William McKinley.  Red letters with McKinley campaign button.

Community fireworks evolved as a way to avoid mayhem and injury

Ann's picture

fireworks display over the U.S. Capitol buildingWe have yet another thing to thank the Founding Fathers for. Always full of ideas, John Adams envisioned fireworks as an important part of the Independence Day celebration in a 1776 letter to his wife Abigail suggesting, “It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” Well said, Mr. Adams.

Early pyrotechnics were part of the “Glorious Fourth” in the largest cities such as Philadelphia and Boston as early as 1777, however, it seems that community-wide fireworks evolved not only as a way to share collective pride in our independence, but also as a practical way to control fires and general mayhem. In 1908, the American Medical Association reported that there were 5,600 injuries and “agonizing” deaths caused by fireworks that year–more than endured at the Battle of Bunker Hill.  In the July 5, 1854 review of the Independence Day’s celebrations from New York Daily Times (from our Historical Newspapers database), editors gave more column inch to “accidents and incidents” than to the ‘fire works’ and festivities!

Upper Arlington’s 4th of July fireworks go back to its very first community-wide celebration in 1923 at Miller Park. “Community News,” the local paper, reported that 1500 people enjoyed “wheels, giant skyrockets, aerial bombs, stars that parachuted downward, huge firecrackers, whizzers and sparklers filled the atmosphere with colors of every hue—and with no fatalities. You can read the full article on microfilm! This year’s show will surely be the best yet, and is set to begin on the 4th around 10pm in Northam Park.

Read more about early fireworks, and the history of Glorious Fourth celebrations in the Reference resources below:

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