Election day – exciting for some, nerve wracking for most. This year, we’ve watched election day turn into election week as we wait for the results of a tight presidential race. As we’re waiting, it’s easy to get caught up in speculation and anxiety. If that is what you’re feeling this week, you’re not alone.
Thankfully, one of the best distractions in times of uncertainty is literature. The other is fun presidential facts! Today, Ohioana has some of both to tide you over as we await final results.
Did you know that seven presidents were born in Ohio, leading the state to sometimes be referred to as “The Mother of Presidents”? An eighth, William Henry Harrison, was born in Virginia but lived most of his adult life in Ohio. Many consider him an honorary Ohioan. However, in terms of birth defining one’s home state, Ohio is second in the ranking of states that has produced the most presidents, behind Virginia in which eight were born.
The last president from Ohio was Warren G. Harding, born in 1865, who served from 1921-1923. In fact, this week marks the 100-year anniversary of his election, as well as the centennial of the first woman’s vote. Even though it’s been nearly 100 years since an Ohioan was president, there is no doubt that the impact of the state has deep roots within the White House.
If you’re looking for some fun presidential facts and something good to read this election season, look no further. Below we’ve compiled some information about Ohio’s seven presidents, as well as honorary Ohioan William Henry Harrison to keep you occupied. We’ve attempted to include Presidential Recommendations, books and authors that these presidents favored, where possible – however, primary sources on this info are hard to come by, so please take those recommendations with a grain of salt! Scroll to the bottom for information on a special event with Ohio author David Giffels discussing the election, being held virtually on November 12th at 6:30pm. Registration is free.
Ulysses S. Grant
18th President of the United States of America
Born: 1822, Point Pleasant, OH
Died: 1885, Wilton, NY
Years in Office: 1869 – 1877
Favorite Author: Edward Bulwer-Lytton (https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/articles/best-read-u-s-presidents/)
Fun Fact: You can see a cigar that was partially-smoked by President Grant on display in the Grant Room at the Ohio Statehouse.
Rutherford B. Hayes
19th President of the United States of America
Born: 1822, Delaware, OH
Died: 1893, Fremont, OH
Years in Office: 1877 – 1881
Favorite Book: The Collected Speeches of Daniel Webster (https://www.buzzfeed.com/daveodegard/the-favorite-books-of-all-44-presidents-of-the-united-states)
Fun Fact: He was wounded at least 4 times during his time serving in the Civil War.
James A. Garfield
20th President of the United States of America
Born: 1831, Cuyahoga County, OH
Died: Assassinated in 1881, Elberon, Long Branch, NJ
Years in Office: 1881
Favorite Book: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (https://www.buzzfeed.com/daveodegard/the-favorite-books-of-all-44-presidents-of-the-united-states)
Fun Fact: Ohioana has several pieces of personal correspondence by Garfield, as well as commemorative items, in our Ohio Presidents collection. http://www.ohioana.org/honoring-james-garfield/
23rd President of the United States of America
Born: 1833, North Bend, OH
Died: 1901, Indianapolis, IN
Years in Office: 1889 – 1893
Favorite Author: Walter Scott (goodreads.com)
Fun Fact: He is the president least associated with Ohio, having spent much of his adult life in Indianapolis.
25th President of the United States of America
Born: 1843, Niles, OH
Died: Assassinated in 1901, Buffalo, NY
Years in Office: 1897 – 1901
Favorite Author: Lord Byron (Kevin Phillips, William McKinley: The American Presidents Series)
Fun Fact: He was the last Civil War veteran to serve as president.
William Howard Taft
27th President of the United States of America
Born: 1857, Cincinnati
Died: 1930, Washington, D.C.
Years in Office: 1909 – 1913
Favorite Book/Author: unknown
Fun Fact: President Taft was much more interested in having a seat on the Supreme Court than being president but was encouraged by his wife to run.
Warren G. Harding
29th President of the United States of America
Born: 1865, Blooming Grove, OH
Died: 1923, San Francisco, CA
Years in Office: 1921 – 1923
Favorite Book: Rules of Poker (https://www.buzzfeed.com/daveodegard/the-favorite-books-of-all-44-presidents-of-the-united-states)
Fun Fact: He was the first president to ride in a car to his inauguration, and the first to broadcast a speech over the radio.
Bonus: William Henry Harrison
9th President of the United States of America
Born: 1773, Charles City county Virginia
Died: 1841, Washington, D.C.
Years in Office: 1841
Favorite Book/Author: unknown
Fun Fact: He gave the longest inaugural speech of any president in history, at 8,445 words.
For more presidential discussion, join us next Thursday for a special online event with Ohio author David Giffels.
Barnstorming Ohio to Understand America: A Conversation with David Giffels
Please visit Eventbrite to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/barnstorming-ohio-to-understand-america-a-conversation-with-david-giffels-tickets-125620134203
About the Event:
David Giffels, author of Barnstorming Ohio to Understand America is joined in conversation with David Weaver, Executive Director of Ohioana Library. Giffels is a celebrated author and essayist, winner of a 2019 Ohioana Award and dubbed “the bard of Akron” by the New York Times. He has spent a quarter century writing about what it means to live in a state he calls “an all-American buffet, an uncannily complete everyplace.”
Barnstorming Ohio is Giffels’ account of a year on Ohio’s roads, visiting people and places that offer valuable reflections of the national questions and concerns, as well as astounding electoral clairvoyance—since 1896, Ohio has chosen the winner in twenty-nine of thirty-one presidential elections, more than any other state. The conversation during this event will focus on Giffels’ account, what he learned, and if his conclusions are accurately represented in the results of the 2020 election.
The event will be held virtually on Zoom and is free to attend, and attendees are encouraged to add a copy of Barnstorming Ohio to Understand America to their ticket order. Copies purchased in conjunction with this event are signed by Giffels and include free shipping.
About the Author:
Barnstorming Ohio author David Giffels has written six books of nonfiction, including the critically acclaimed memoir, Furnishing Eternity: A Father, a Son, a Coffin, and a Measure of Life, published by Scribner in 2018. The book has been hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “tender, witty and … painstakingly and subtly wrought,” and by Kirkus Reviews as “a heartfelt memoir about the connection between a father and son.” It was a Book of the Month pick by Amazon and Powell’s and a New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice.”
His previous books include The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches From the Rust Belt (Scribner 2014), a New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice” and nominee for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and the memoir All the Way Home (William Morrow/HarperCollins 2008), winner of the Ohioana Book Award.
Giffels is the coauthor, with Jade Dellinger, of the rock biography Are We Not Men? We Are Devo! and, with Steve Love, Wheels of Fortune: The Story of Rubber in Akron.
A former Akron Beacon Journal columnist, his writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic.com, Parade, The Wall Street Journal, Esquire.com, Grantland.com, The Iowa Review, and many other publications. He also wrote for the MTV series Beavis and Butt-Head.
His awards include the Cleveland Arts Prize for literature, the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, and a General Excellence award from National Society of Newspaper Columnists. He was selected as the Cuyahoga County Public Library Writer in Residence for 2018-2019.
Giffels is a professor of English at the University of Akron, where he teaches creative nonfiction in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Program.