Election Week 2020: A History of Ohio Presidents

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.


In 1920, Warren G. Harding was the last Ohioan elected to the White House, in the first election in which all American women could vote, thanks to the 19th Amendment

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.

Scanned image of a handwritten letter addressed "Dear Rawlins" and signed "Yours Truly, U.A. Grant." The letterhead reads "Headquarters Armies of the United States"; the letter is dated July 16th, 1865.
Handwritten letter by Ulysses S. Grant

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/

Scanned image of invitation to congressional memorial service for James A. Garfield. Large central black-and-white illustrations includes an oval frame decorated with leaves and stars that surrounds a portrait of Garfield. Six American flags draped with black ribbon are fanned out behind the frame; a sword and a branch sit on top of it. The Capitol Building and the White House are visible in the background on either side of the frame. The text states "Memorial Service of James Abram Garfield. President March 4th, 1881, Died September 19th, 1881 Age 49 years. Eulogy by Hon. James G. Blaine, House of Representatives Feb. 27th, 1882." Signed by John Sherman, Chairman Senate Committee, and Wm McKinley Jr, Chairman House Committee.
Copy of invitation to James A. Garfield’s memorial service

Benjamin Harrison

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.


William McKinley

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.


November 12, 2020 at 6:30pm

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.

Fall Into Literature

Although autumn doesn’t officially start until September 22nd, it certainly already feels as if the seasons have changed. The chilly, rainy weather of this past week might bring to mind thoughts of changing leaves, pumpkin pie and shorter days. Here at Ohioana, it also reminds us of the myriad of literary events that happen around the state during the autumn. Whether you’re looking to hear your favorite author speak about their work, get a book signed, or buy something new to read, there should be something to satisfy you in the coming months. Check out our list below for some literary events around Ohio this fall that you shouldn’t miss.

 

Cleveland Public Poetry: Featuring Maxwell Shell

When: September 15th, 12:00pm-1:00pm

Where: Literature Department, Main Library, 325 Superior Ave., 2nd FL

What: “Ohio Center for the Book and Cleveland Public Library invite you to celebrate the changing of the season amidst the readings of written and spoken-word poetry, with our special guest reader poet MaxWell Shell. After a brief Q&A, the mic will open for others to read an original or favorite work. Free refreshments and snacks provided. Door prizes, too!”

Admission: Free

https://ohiocenterforthebook.org/2018/08/06/cleveland-public-poetry-2018-fall-schedule/

 

Photo credit: Jeff Sabo

Tigerland by Wil Haygood book events

An Evening With Wil Haygood at East High School

When: September 20th, 7:00pm

Where: Columbus East High School,

East High School

1500 East Broad Street

Columbus , OH 43229

What: “In partnership with Columbus City Schools, Gramercy Books welcomes award-winning author and journalist, Wil Haygood, to Columbus East High School for his national book tour launch of Tigerland:1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of HealingHaygood will share the story of Columbus’ own East High School Tigers, who won baseball and basketball state championships in the midst of the racial turbulence and segregation of the late 1960s, and how they inspired a community.”

Admission: Free, but tickets must be reserved through Eventbrite

https://www.gramercybooksbexley.com/event/gramercy-salon2424-evening-wil-haygood-east-high-school

 

An Afternoon With Wil Haygood

When: September 23rd, 3:00pm

Where: Schottenstein Theatre at Bexley High School

326 South Cassingham Road

Bexley , OH 43229

What: “Join us in welcoming Columbus’ own, Wil Haygood, for a special afternoon featuring his new book, Tigerland:1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing, an emotional, inspiring story of two teams from a poor, black, segregated high school in Columbus, who, in the midst of the racial turbulence of 1968/1969, win the Ohio state baseball and basketball championships in the same year. This program, to include an author talk, reading and book signing, is presented in partnership with Bexley Public Library.”

Admission: Free

https://www.gramercybooksbexley.com/event/gramercy-salon2424-afternoon-wil-haygood

 

Wil Haygood at University of Dayton

When: September 25th, 7:00pm-8:30pm

Where: Kennedy Union Ballroom, Kennedy Union 241

300 College Park

Dayton, Ohio 45469 – 0620

What: “Wil Haygood, Pulitzer-nominated journalist and New York Times best-selling author of The Butler and Showdown will be discussing his new book, Tigerland: 1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of HealingTigerland tells the story of Columbus’ East High School Tigers, baseball and basketball teams from a poor, black, segregated high school that each won two Ohio state championships in the same year, uniting a racially-charged community in the aftermath of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Haygood is praised for connecting the civil rights movement and its iconic heroes with current events and enduring struggles. Above all, he brings the powerful perspective that this is the history of all Americans, shaping our national identity and common values. Haygood will be interviewed by his friend, Michael Carter, chief diversity officer at Sinclair Community College. Copies of Tigerland, in addition to other titles by Haygood, will be available for purchase. A book signing will follow the presentation.”

Admission: Free

https://udayton.edu/calendar/2018/09/ud-speaker-series-talk-by-wil-haygood.php

 

Lit Youngstown Fall Literary Festival

When: September 21st-22nd, 9:30am-9:00pm

Where: Kilcawley Center,

Youngstown State University,

1 University Plaza, Youngstown, OH 44505

What: “This year’s festival will feature accomplished visiting writers, a book fair, a caucus for literary arts nonprofits, panels on many aspects of the literary arts, craft talks, workshops and readings in fiction, nonfiction and poetry.”

Admission: Check website for more information

https://lityoungstown.org/fall-literary-festival/

 

 

Cartoon Crossroads Columbus

When: September 27th-30th, check website for times

Where: Varying locations, check website for more information

What: “CXC is a free, citywide arts festival hosted every year by people and places with a passion for cartoon arts. CXC connects the global family of cartoon storytellers, comic makers, and animators with the people who love and are inspired by their art. Together, they celebrate the stories that can only be told in visual media that are as diverse as the people who imagined them.”

Admission: Free

http://cartooncrossroadscolumbus.com/

 

Ohioana Awards

When: October 18th, 6:00pm-9:00pm

Where: Ohio Statehouse,

1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215

What: “The Ohioana Book Awards are the second oldest, and among the most prestigious, state literary prizes in the nation. Nearly every notable Ohio writer of the past 76 years has been honored. Tickets for the Awards go on sale on September 15th.”

Admission: $50 per ticket

http://www.ohioana.org/programs/ohioana-book-awards/

 

Books by the Banks

When: October 20th, 10am-4pm

Where: Duke Energy Convention Center,

525 Elm St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

What: “The premiere event is the Books by the Banks Cincinnati Regional Book Festival held annually in downtown Cincinnati. The day-long festival, which is free and open to the public, features national, regional, and local authors and illustrators; book signings; panel discussions; and activities for the entire family to enjoy.”

Admission: Free

http://booksbythebanks.org/

 

 

 

Pickerington Teen Book Fest

When: October 27th, 10am-5pm

Where: Pickerington Public Library,

201 Opportunity Way

Pickerington, OH 43147 United States

What: The Pickerington Teen Book Fest is free and open to the public! Add this event now to your calendars, and get ready to spend one incredible day with twelve incredible authors of teen and young adult fiction!

Admission: Free

https://pickeringtonlibrary.org/pickerington-teen-book-fest-2018/

 

Buckeye Book Fair

When: November 3rd, 9:30am-4pm

Where: Fisher Auditorium

1680 Madison Ave, Wooster, OH 44691

What: “Meet 100 Ohio authors & illustrators at the 31st annual Buckeye Book Fair.”

Admission: $2

http://www.buckeyebookfair.com/

 

Which of these literary events are you most looking forward to? Are there any we missed that you think we should know about? Leave us a comment, or send an email to ohioana@ohioana.org.

In case you missed it: the Mercantile Library

The Winter issue of the Ohioana Quarterly focused on our good friend, the Mercantile Library in Cincinnati.

This library is one of the gems in the crown of the Queen City. It was established in 1835, according to the feature story written by Ohioana board member Bryan Loar. Its founders were merchants and clerks, hence the name. These young men of the city, who could expect a prosperous future for themselves as well as Cincinnati, placed a premium on learning and so created a place and an opportunity.

Can you imagine what a haven the library must have been from the rush and press of business in 1835? Cincinnati was hardly a backwater since it was a significant river port on the Ohio, with trade and a thriving meat-packing industry sending out salted pork all over the country. And can you imagine the despair over not one but TWO fires it endured, the first in 1845 and the second in 1869? Fortunately, most of the volumes were saved in both instances. And in 1904, the Mercantile Library found a home it has stayed in ever since.

The building is, of course, lovely. It has plenty of natural light, comfortable chairs, wood book shelves and cabinets, and works of art both venerable and modern. And it has kept up with the times. There are 80,000 books in the collection and membership has grown from the original 45 to the current 2,500. There are discussion groups, literary and other events, and even e-books.

As Bryan says in the article, “The Mercantile Library continues to support personal improvement and the exploration of contemporary ideas through an adaptive and open space, a notable collection, inspiring art, and extraordinary programs.”