Today is not Presidents Day in Ohio. It is Washington-Lincoln day. The day was official named in 2001. This was codified to clarify the days on which laws can and can not take effect.
On the final Monday in May America takes the time to honor those who died in service to its armed forces. This tradition started in 1868 when former Civil War soldiers decided to decorate the graves of fallen veterans. While the custom is a long held tradition around the world, this time was different. So many soldiers had died in the recent Civil War, and so many families effected, that having a single day to do this helped to bring larger importance to the act. It wasn’t until 1971 with the enactment of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that the day created a yearly 3 day weekend.
To honor the veterans who gave it all here are some road trip ideas that have a military background. Some can be completed in one day some might take two. A great site to learn more about Ohio historical places and come up with you own trips is http://touringohio.com
Northwest Ohio and the War of 1812:
Fallen Timbers Battlefield and Fort Miamis National Historic Site – Fallen Timbers was the site of a major battle between American Indians and the newly formed United States of America. At the treaty of Paris in 1783 Britain gave the USA all of the land east of the Mississippi River. This include the Ohio Country. The American Indian tribes living in the area felt that they had no representation in the matter and that the land was still theirs. This led to the Battle of Fallen Timbers. At this battle American Soldiers fought the natives who were supplied by British from Fort Miamis. The defeat of the American Indians led to the Treaty of Greenville (see Garst Museum Below).
Fort Meigs – This fort with stood 2 attacks from the British and defended the Ohio country during the War of 1812. This is a full standing fort with a visitors center.
Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Library and Museum: The home and Museum of The former Civil War General and 19th President. For more information see our review.
Southwest and the Civil War
William Henry Harrison Tomb – The resting place of the 9th President and Ohio Indian Wars Veteran. He was the first president to die in office and is still the short serving person to have held the office. See our review here
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – This museum is dedicated not only to the Underground Railroad and the struggle of American Slaves, but the struggle of all people for equality, even in modern times. The museum is a powerful testament to the struggles that lead to the Civil War.
William Howard Taft National Historic Site: The birthplace and boyhood home of the 27th President. Governor of the Philippines following the Spanish American war, Secretary of War, and Commander in Chief gives this site some great military background. See our review here
Land of Grant : Grant Birthplace and Grant Boyhood home and School House – The 18th President and commander of the Union armies during the civil war. Visit where he was born, grew up and learned. See our review here.
Fort Jefferson – The site where St. Clair retreated after his defeat.
Garst Museum – Dedicated to the history of Darke county this museum tells the story of the Treaty of Greenville and the role it played in shaping Ohio. A nice large museum with lots of artifacts from the area. See our review here.
Fort Recovery – The site of the two largest and most important American Indian battles, The Defeat of St. Clair and the Battle of Fort Recovery. St. Clair had 900 of his 1200 men killed, about 1/4 of the US army. It is also the site of the fort that was built after the battle. It was this fort that allowed the US to win the next battle and led to the signing of the Treaty of Greenville.
Fort Steuben – Built to protect the surveyors of the northwest Territory. The Fort has a visitor center, full wood fort and large grounds surrounding it.
Fort Laurens – Site of the only Revolutionary War battle in the state.
McCook house – Home of the “Fighting McCooks.” Major Daniel McCook and his 9 sons and 6 nephews fought before and mostly during the Civil War.
The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum – The Tomb of William McKinley, the 25th President, and commander and chief during the Spanish-American War. Next to the tomb is the Library and Museum which house exhibits on the natural world, Stark County, and the life of the president. See our review here.
Today marks the 100th birthday of our National Parks Service. The parks service started in 1916. The first park was established in Ohio in 1923. From that day forward the parks have been one of the great attractions in the state. The parks have something for everyone.
A Brief Timeline of National Parks Service in Ohio
1923 –Hopewell Culture: Started as part of the Mound City Group National Monument. It is fitting that this was the first park because it is dedicated to the history of Ohio’s earliest inhabitants
1966 – Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial: A monument to the Commander of the Battle of Lake Erie during the war of 1812. Also memorializes the war as the last conflict between the United States, Britain, and Canada.
1969 – William Howard Taft National Historic Site: The boyhood home, and later family home, of the 27th president of the United States.
1980 – David Berger National Monument: A monument to one of athletes killed at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.
North Country Scenic Trail: Established as one of the longest of the 11 scenic trails. In Ohio it connects to the Buckeye Trail and runs through Hocking Hills, one of Ohio’s most hiked areas.
James A Garfield National Historical Site: The Home of 20th President James A Garfield. Considered the first Presidential Library in America.
1992 – Dayton Aviation Heritage: Celebrates the history of flight and the two Dayton Brothers who solved the problems of getting man in the air. Is spread out in 5 different locations through out Dayton.
1999 – Fallen Timbers Battlefield and Fort Miamis: The site of the battle of Fallen Timbers, the final battle in the Northwest Indian War, and the site of Fort Miamis, a British fort built to stop Gen. Wayne, which he eventually held.
2000 – Cuyahoga Valley: Originally created as a recreational area in 1974, Cuyahoga became a National park in 2000. This park celebrates the history of the people, canals, and nature of the northwestern Ohio valley.
First Ladies National Historical Site: Built in the home of Ida McKinley, this site is dedicated to the history of the wives of the Presidents of The United States.
2004 – National Heritage Area: Incorporated just after the Centennial of Flight this large area of western Ohio houses the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Armstrong Air and Space Museum, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, and Woodlawn Cemetery (with the graves of Paul Lawrence Dunbar and The Wright Brothers)
2013 – Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers: So new that it is not even finished opening yet. The Monument is dedicated to one of the most famous Buffalo Soldiers and first African-American national park Superintendent.
On April 4th 1841 William Henry Harrison became the first person to die while serving as President of the United States of America. This created problem for our nation. Was Vice-president John Taylor the new president? The constitution states “In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President”
The question had arisen, “Did Tyler gain the office of president, or just the powers of it?” Harrison’s cabinet believed that it was just the powers. Tyler said that it was the full office. He took the oath of office to end the debate. It was his choice to be strong that set a precedent that has been used over the next 175 years.
On April 4th 1841, 175 years ago this day, William Henry Harrison became the first person to die while serving as President of the United States of America. This was a tragedy. Having only served 30 days in office, the shortest of any president, Harrison had little time to do much more than create a cabinet.
William Henry Harrison’s funeral took place in the east room of the Executive Mansion (as the White House was called at the time). Being the first time a president had died in office, no procedure was in place for a ceremony. The president deserved a formal ceremony with the pomp and circumstance befitting of such a high office. The procedures would set a precedent that was to be followed for other presidents who were to die in office. The mansion was draped in black, The United States Marine Band played as the casket was placed on a large funeral car and driven to Congressional Cemetery to be placed in a public viewing vault.
In June of 1841 the time had come to move William Henry Harrison’s body to North Bend, just west of Cincinnati, Ohio. His body was transported down the Ohio River on a procession of black draped barges. On July 7 he was formally interned in a simple tomb.
William Henry Harrison’s legacy stretched far beyond just his death. His presidency , however, did not. The precedents established would go on to help a nation morn after the lose of a president, either by the hand of man or the hand of nature. As Vice President John Taylor was to show, the nation had lost a person it had not lost the office.
Ohio has given this great nation 8 of its 44 presidents. Because Ohio is “The Mother of Presidents” it has gained a large collection of presidential items and locations. From small knick knacks to house, planes, and even battlefields her is our list of places to see a bit of presidential history.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force – Planes from every president to fly
Golden Lamb – Historic Inn and restaurant that has been visited by every Ohio president and many more.
First Ladies National Historical Site – The home of First Lady Ida Saxton McKinley which celebrates the wives of all presidents
Ohio Statehouse – Houses artifacts from presidential visits
Ohio Historical Center – Houses many artifacts ( not many on display) from Ohio’s historical presidential campaigns
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center – Tells the story of slavery and the struggle to end it. Talks about Lincoln, and many other presidents, struggle with the dreaded institution of slavery.
Cleveland History Center – Talks about the history of northwest Ohio and the area that made James Garfield. Right next door to Garfield Tomb.
William Henry Harrison:
Fallen Timber Battlefield
Adena Mansion and Garden – Visited many times as a Governor and General.
Tecumseh! Outdoor Drama – A loud Outdoor Drama telling the life and troubles of the great Tecumseh and his interaction with Harrison.
Tomb of William Henry Harrison
Ulysses S. Grant
Land of Grant – Birthplace, Boyhood home, and Schoolhouse
Rutherford B Hayes
The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center – Also house the Tomb of the late President
Benjamin Harrison Birthplace – A small plaque .3 miles from his grandfathers tomb denotes the site of his birth
William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft National Historical Site
Warren G. Harding was the 8th person from Ohio to become President of the United States of America, the 29th overall. Born November 2, 1865. The Civil War had just ended and the long stretch of Ohio presidents was beginning at the time. Harding was born in Blooming Grove, Ohio. His birthplace is now only marked with a sign.
Harding went to school at Ohio Central College and started the school newspaper while there. Newspapers were to play a big part in the rest of his life. While he was a senior his family moved to Marion, Ohio. After school Harding saved up money to buy a failing newspaper, The Marion Star.
Warren G. Harding used to papers train pass to visit the 1884 Republican National Convention. While there he met many famous reporters of the time. His paper, however, was taken over by the sheriff while he was away. After he got his paper back harding decided to turn it into a nonpartisan paper. This pleased the advertisers of the democratic Marion County and the republican Marion, Ohio. Harding was starting to show that he had an eye for politics.
Harding soon married Florence Kling, the daughter of his rival. This marriage was a boon for the Marion Star as Florence took over the papers financial. Mrs. Harding’s work behind the scenes would be one of the major factors leading Warren to the presidency. Some say even up until his death.
During the 1896 election Warren G. Harding made a name for himself while campaigning statewide for William McKinley. At the time the strategy for an Ohioan running for office was the Front Porch Campaign, where in the candidate would stay at home receiving visitors and send out others to do his campaigning. This was a perfect opportunity of up and coming young politicians to get a chance to meet the public. Harding used this opportunity as a stepping stone to State Senator, Lieutenant Governor, and finally in 1914, U.S. Senator. A position held until the 1920 elections.
1920 was the biggest year of the 20th century for Ohio politics.During the presidential campaign Harding floundered in the early primaries. He finally gained the republican nominate on the tenth vote of the republican convention. his opponent in the general election was fellow western Ohio newspaperman, and sitting governor, James Cox. Cox’s running mate was Franklin D Roosevelt. With little to separate the candidates, the campaign came down to the issues. Harding took to the Ohio style Front Porch Campaign. The home and porch is now a museum. Cox used a more active style. On August 18th 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified giving women the right to vote. This meant that the 1920 presidential election was the first national election that women would vote in.
March 4, 1921 Warren G. Harding was inaugurated as 29th President. While not a fan of the League of Nations, he formally ended World War I with the signing of Knox-Porter Resolution. Harding did many things during his presidency but he is most remembered for his scandals. The Teapot Dome Scandal was the worst of time. The scandal involved the lease of oilfields for low rates without competitive bidding. In the end Hardings first Secretary of the Interior Albert Falls was sent to prison for one year. Hardings Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty was thought to be in league with bootleggers. Harding also had trouble with Charles Forbes, the head of the Veterans Bureau. Forbes was found to have taken kickbacks and selling off property for personal gain.
Most of the scandals didn’t come to light during Hardings presidency however. During a trip to San Fransisco Warren G Harding began failing on July 27, 1923. On August 2, 1923 the president suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. His final resting place is in his memorial in Marion Ohio. He wife rests next to him.
While he may have been forgotten as a president Harding’s influence on an era has not. Both Boardwalk Empire and Downton Abbey have used his presidency and it’s scandals as a major story line. If it had not been for Nixon he may still be known as having one of the biggest scandals and everything would be known as “dome” instead of “gate.”
PS. The 1920 campaign saw the first widespread use of telemarketing in a presidential campaign.
William Howard Taft was the 7th person from Ohio to become president. He became the 27th President of the United States of America. The first Ohioan to become president after the Civil War to not have served. Born September 15, 1857 near Cincinnati. His birthplace is a National Park not far from the resting place of William Henry Harrison and the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison.
He spent a pretty uneventful youth in Cincinnati. He went to Woodward High School. He graduated 2nd in his class from Yale University. Finally, he gained a law degree from Cincinnati Law School.
After the Spanish American War Taft was named the first civilian Governor of the Philippines. After serving 1 term he was named Secretary of War, a position once held by his father under President Grant. While Secretary America was given construction rights to the Panama Canal.
In the 1908 election William Howard Taft ran against William J. Bryan, who had previously lost twice to Ohioan William McKinley. Taft beat Bryan hands down in what was one of the most uneventful campaigns of any Ohioan.
During his Presidency many things were accomplished. Taft, a Republican, was a progressive and fought cooperations his whole presidency. Taft created the United States Chamber of Commerce. In 1909 he implemented cooperate income tax and prepossessed what would become the 16th amendment, allowing the government to tax income.
Taft would run again in 1912, against not only the Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson, but also former President Roosevelt. William Howard Taft was not a great campaigner and lost to both of his competitors. This lose was not the end of his political career. On June 30th, 1921 Ohioan and President Warren G. Harding nominated Taft to Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Many important rulings were handed down under his tenure. Carroll v United States, which made searches of vehicles without a warrant legal, still resonates today.
In the end his many health problems would catch up to him. He died of cardiovascular disease on March 8, 1930. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was the first president and the first Chief Justice to be buried in the cemetery.
P.s. Taft was a huge fan of Baseball. He was the first president to throw out a ceremonial pitch. To commemorate this the Nationals have made him a mascot. Follow him on twitter @NatsBigChief27.
Did he get stuck in a bathtub? The myth is that he did, but the truth is that he probably did not. The rumor started after a comment in a book by the former White House usher.
William McKinley was the 25th President of the United States of America and the 6th from Ohio. He was born on January 29, 1843 in Niles, Ohio. His birthplace is now part of a museum and research center. He spent his schoolboy days in Poland, Ohio and went to college at Allegheny College, in Pennsylvania. He only spent a year there before returning to Ohio and going to Mount Union College. McKinley left there early too.
After the attack on Fort Sumner many men in Ohio joined the army. McKinley was one of many that became privates in the Union army. Because of the sharp rise in enlistments, supplies were short. This caused problems between the enlisted men, including McKinley, and their officers. Rutherford B. Hayes , a major at the time, convinced the men to take what was given. Hayes’ style of leadership impressed McKinley and they formed a lifelong friendship. McKinley saw much action through out the war and served under many different commanders. By the end of the conflict he had risen to the rank of Brevet Major. William McKinley was the last person that served in the Civil War to become president.
After the war McKinley returned to Ohio to study law. Eventually he partnered with George W. Belden in Canton, Ohio. His law practice made him rich enough to buy an entire block of buildings in Canton. When Rutherford B. Hayes ran for Governor of Ohio McKinley made speeches for him. This was the first time McKinley had entered in to politics, but would not be the last.
William McKinley soon met and wooed Ida Saxton and they married on January 25, 1871. on Christmas day of that year they had their first child, Katherine. Two years later they had their second child, Ida, but she died with in a few months of birth. Only two years after that Katherine too died. This lose of both daughters sent Ida into a deep depression that would effect the rest of her husbands political career.
Despite her own problems Ida encouraged William to go further into politics. In August, 1876, McKinley was nominated to the republican seat of the 17th Ohio district. At the same time fellow Ohioan, and friend, Rutherford B Hayes was running for office of President. McKinley was not only successful in winning his own seat but was a great help in Hayes win the most contentious presidential race in history.
As McKinley’s time in Congress came to an end his party asked him run for Governor of his home state. In 1891 he won the election becoming the 39th governor of Ohio. After 1 term in office McKinley decided to make his run for president. In 1896 he ran against William J. Bryan, soon to be known as the prosecutor in the Scopes Monkey Trial. As with most Ohioans who ran for president before him, McKinley used the front porch campaign style. His campaign would become the most famous use of this style.
William McKinley’s presidency is best known for The Spanish-American War. Cuba had been fighting for independence from Spain for many years. McKinley thought that the conflict could be settled peacefully, but sent in the USS Maine to protect American
interests in the area. While in harbor the ship blew up. At the time many newspapers advocated war but McKinley wanted to wait for the outcome of the investigation into the indecent. In the end war was inevitable. The war soon expanded to the Pacific with the involvement of Spanish controlled Philippines. Lasting only 3 months, the war would have a huge impact on the politics of both Cuba and the United States up until the present day.
The victory in Cuba and the popularity of his first term made for an easy run for reelection. This time, however, McKinley would need a new running mate, as his vice president had died the year before. He choose Teddy Roosevelt, a leader of the “Easy Riders” during the Spanish American War.
As popular as he was , McKinley’s second term was not to last long. On September 5th, while on a trip to the Pan-American Expo in Buffalo, he was shot by Leon Czolgosz. On September 14th, William McKinley died. He was the 5th president to die in office. His death lead to much grief through out the nation. The president was put to rest in the receiving vault of West Lawn Cemetery until his final resting place was completed. On September 30th, 1907 the William McKinley Memorial was dedicated in Canton, Ohio. One can still visit the impressive marble building and pay respects to one of Ohio’s Great Eight.
P.s. The Mountain was named after him during his first presidential campaign. A gold miner who supported his stance to keep the dollar tied to gold gave it the name. Later when the park was created around it the name stuck.
Ulysses S. Grant, born Hiram Ulysses Grant on April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio. Grant spent a good portion of his early life in southern around the Ohio River. Today his birthplace, boyhood home, and school house are all museums dedicated to his life. Together they make up the area know as the Land of Grant. At the age of 17 Grant entered West Point, where due to a clerical error he was given the nickname Ulysses S. Grant. At West Point he earned his reputation as an expert Horseman, and few friends. One of the friends he made was his roommate Fredrick Dent, a friendship that would change his life. Grant was not fond of military life and planned on resigning 4 years after graduating. in 1844, while on a visit to his former roommates farm White Haven, U.S. Grant meet Julia Dent. It is later that year that he proposed to her. They are unable to be together however, because of Grant’s commission in the Army.
During his four year commission, tensions with Mexico rose to the level of war and Grant was finally given a chance to lead. It was during this war that he was assigned to future president Zachary Taylor. However because of Taylor’s rising popularity, his unit was split in half with a portion, including Grant, forming a new unit under Gen. Winfield Scott. While under the command of Scott, Grant, and future adversary Robert Lee, participated in the march from Vera Cruz to Mexico City. Although his commission expired during the war, Grant decided to stay in the Army. August 22, 1848, Ulysses and Julia finally marry. It is during this time of his life that he is given many different assignments and moves from the Midwest to the East Coast to the Pacific Northwest. Julia is unable to follow him and stays at her family home in Missouri. This farm, called White Haven, is now the Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site. 1854 Grant resigns his army to position to move back to White Haven to be with his family. April 12th, 1861, Confederate soldiers fire upon Fort Sumter. This act causes the start of the Civil War and the return of U.S. Grant to the United States Army. It is during this war that Grant makes a name for himself, eventually becoming the commander of all Union Armies. April 9th, 1865, almost 5 years to the day the war started, the Confederate army surrenders at Appomattox Court House (Now a National Park). Less than four years after winning the war Grant is nominated by the Republican Party to be the President of The United States of America. He is the 17th person and the second from Ohio to hold this position. During his presidency many of the things modern Americans take for granted are established. The 8 hour workday, the 15th amendment, establishment of the Department of Justice, Yellowstone is established as the first national park. After leaving office Ulysses S. Grant and his wife embark on a two year around the world tour. In the years that follow Grant and family take it easy. Only a few days after finishing his memoirs, The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, he dies. His body is temporarily buried in a tomb in Riverside Park in New York City. Over a decade later Grant’s Tomb is finished and he is buried with his wife. Grant is one of the few men from Ohio who served as president who has not returned to the state. Although the he has not returned to Ohio, the state has not forgotten its son who helped ended a war, free the oppressed, and made it to the most famous house in the land. Grant will always be remembered as one of Ohio’s Great 8.