“Cultural and Political Sources of Cleveland’s Great Cultural and Civic Institutions” w/Prof David Hammack 3.23.2021

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 23, 2021 AT 7 PM EDT
“Cultural and Political Sources of Cleveland’s Great Cultural and Civic Institutions”
On March 23 at 7pm, join David Hammack, CWRU Hiram C. Haydn Professor of History Emeritus, who will speak to this theme:

Why is Greater Cleveland home to so many notable private institutions? The Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Museum of Art both make persuasive claims to be among the very best in the United States. University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic give the region two nationally-notable medical systems. The city’s religious and nondenominational social welfare charities have for more than 100 years been national leaders in raising money and developing effective responses to new challenges. University Circle constitutes a university-cultural district surpassed by just a handful of cities in the United States. This lecture will explore the cultural, economic, and political sources of the region’s extraordinary private institutions.
The recording is here:
Cosponsored by CWRU Siegal Lifelong Learning, Cleveland History Center and The League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland

Florence E. Allen, Cleveland’s Most Famous Woman Almost No Clevelanders Today Have Heard Of

Florence Allen 1921 KSU

FLORENCE E. ALLEN,
CLEVELAND’S MOST FAMOUS WOMAN
ALMOST NO CLEVELANDERS TODAY HAVE HEARD OF
By Marian J. Morton

The pdf is here

When the Plain Dealer’s Andrea Simakis discovered “the unstoppable Judge Florence Allen,” she marveled over Allen’s path-breaking career, her intellect, her perseverance, her “moxie.”  And yet,  Simakis mused, “… I had never heard of her… Neither had a lot of women I know.”  [1] But for much of Allen’s lifetime (1884-1966), almost everyone in Cleveland – at least everyone who read the newspapers – had heard of her.  She was Cleveland’s most famous woman,[2] not just because she was the “first lady of the law,”[3] not just because this local girl made very, very good, but because Allen herself made it happen.  A performer by both nature and nurture, Allen loved being center stage. She gave hundreds of speeches -on soapboxes, street corners, luncheons, and lecture halls – on topics ranging from opera to woman suffrage to outlawing war; she faced down hecklers and anti-suffragists; she led and marched in parades. These set the stage for successful runs for municipal judge and the Ohio Supreme Court and less successful runs for the U.S.  House of Representatives and Senate and a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Fiercely ambitious, she cultivated political allies from local precinct captains to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; fiercely competitive, she relished the challenges of being the first woman in a male role.  Her reward: fame, although fleeting.

FIRST ACTS: AMATEUR THEATER

One of Allen’s earliest memories was of her five-year-old self on a make-shift stage, dressed in costume, like her older sisters, in a performance that celebrated her father’s birthday.  Allen recited the Greek alphabet, which he had taught her. [4]

The family was living in Utah, where her father, Clarence Emil Allen, had gone to recover from tuberculosis. He was a graduate of Western Reserve College in Hudson, then became head of Western Reserve Academy, and then taught classics at the college until his health gave out.  His wife, Corinne Tuckerman Allen, and two small daughters, Esther and Helen, followed him to Salt Lake City.

He quickly entered public life.  He studied law, was admitted to the bar (no law school necessary in those days), and became county clerk. He was elected to the territorial legislature, and when Utah became a state in 1895, he became one of its first elected representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives.  He served only one term, and after his return from Washington D.C., made his living as an assayer for one of the mines of Liberty Holden, owner of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Corinne Allen “was always immersed in some public undertaking,” her daughter recalled.[5] Corinne had been admitted to the first class at Smith College in 1875, one of a tiny handful of women who attended college in the 1870s.   Although she dropped out of college to marry Clarence, she believed that her privileged education gave her special responsibilities to her community.  Florence was born in Utah, and Elizabeth, Clarence Emil Jr., and John followed.  Utah women had been enfranchised by the Utah territorial legislature in 1870, disenfranchised by Congress in 1887 in a dispute over the legality of polygamy, but continued to play public roles. An energetic participant in the woman’s club movement of the late nineteenth century, Corinne joined local, state, and national women’s clubs and helped found the Mothers’ Congress, later the P.T.A.  She was a vocal opponent of the Mormon practice of polygamy. Corinne became an organizer in 1900 for Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan.[6]

Florence Allen attended high school in Salt Lake City, where she was most inspired by her piano teacher, and in 1900, at age 16, she entered the Women’s College of Western Reserve University. Although she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, she later recalled, “I do not seem to have been greatly interested in any special branch of learning,” except piano, which she practiced for hours.  She found time for politics, however, and was elected freshman class president.[7] She loved going to local operas, stage productions, and concerts; her college scrapbooks are full of playbills with lively comments in the margins. [8] She also greatly enjoyed “the dramatics that we produced on the campus,” proud of her role in which “I was stout, vigorous, shook my cane and swore enthusiastically.” [9]  No male actors being available, she – with a strong voice – also played the king in a Hindu play: “ I sweltered in the royal purple robe.” [10]These college theatrics were dress rehearsals for performances in her judicial robes.

Allen was tall, sturdily built (she struggled with her weight all her life), with regular features and a broad forehead.  Until the 1920s, she wore her hair long and piled on top of her head. She was handsome, not conventionally pretty.  [11] She had a commanding presence, appreciated and applauded by audiences and supporters.  By her own account – and other’s -, she had little fashion sense and recalled more than one occasion when friends at the last-minute scrambled to provide something appropriately feminine for her to wear for a public appearance. [12]

After graduation in 1904, Allen accompanied her mother to Berlin, where Corinne had been asked to speak on polygamy to the International Council of Women. Florence studied piano but decided that she lacked the talent to make her living as a musical performer. Instead, she became a music critic, which provided her with an entry into her public life in Cleveland when she returned in 1906.  She landed a job at Laurel School, a private girls’ school, where she directed the plays, played piano for chapel every morning, and taught “Greek, German, geography, grammar, and American history.”  [13]

More important, she became the music critic for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  She reviewed concerts, operas, orchestras, and solo performers weekly and sometimes more often.  To readers, the byline,  “By Florence Allen,”  became associated with social respectability and professional integrity.

But she didn’t want to teach high school girls or write music reviews forever. At the suggestion of one of her teachers at Western Reserve University, she studied for a master’s in political science and decided to go to law school.  Law was very much a male field, and the new requirement of law school made it even more difficult for women.  Western Reserve University Law School, for example, did not accept women, so Allen went first to the University of Chicago and then to New York University.  She graduated second in her class.

In New York, money was tight, and as she had in Cleveland, she supplemented her income with public lectures.  More important, she met the women who would help shape her career and her political agenda. These included the Reverend Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), 1904-1915; Carrie Chapman Catt, the brilliant NAWSA president usually credited with devising the “winning strategy” for achieving the vote; and Maude Wood Park, the organizer of the College Equal Suffrage Organization. Park gave Allen a job as the organization’s secretary. Although initially viewed as wild revolutionaries by many Americans, these suffragists led the movement into the moderate mainstream, especially after the break with the more radical National Women’s Party. This way led to victory in 1920.

Pragmatic by necessity, the NAWSA endorsed no political candidate unless he endorsed woman suffrage.  Suffragists argued for the vote on the grounds that women were equal to men and deserved equal treatment and also, often simultaneously, that women were different and would bring their special nurturing skills to politics and the larger community, especially the lives of women. These became Allen’s guiding principles.

SECOND ACTS: POLITICAL THEATER

In 1912, one of many proposed amendments to the Ohio constitution would have enfranchised Ohio women by changing the words that described a voter as a “white male” to “every citizen.”  Allen returned to Cleveland to make it happen. She was already well-known to Clevelanders, thanks to her family connections and her byline at the newspaper.

She was also a polished public speaker. Like her fellow suffragists, she was well educated and well off financially, but unlike them, she was neither shy nor modest.  Accompanied by cub reporter Louis Seltzer, she and other brave women rode from Cleveland to Medina on a rented trolley that carried a “Votes for Women” banner; when it stopped, Allen hopped off and pitched woman suffrage from a soap box. [14] Suffragists were routinely greeted by hecklers, who told them to return to their homes where they belonged.  “It can’t be did,” maintained one opponent to votes for women, “and if it can be did, it hain’t right.” [15] More frustrating was public indifference.  Allen recalled a meeting in one small town at which only two women appeared; she urged them to return the next night, and they did, bringing one friend.  On the brighter side, she was “roundly cheered” in a circus tent in Ottawa, Ohio, and in Sidney, Ohio, at a band concert,  accompanied by another suffragist, who entertained the crowd by whistling and playing the cornet. She spoke and organized women all over the state – 92 speeches in 88 counties [16] The referendum lost by 87,455 votes, but Allen’s exposure laid the groundwork for her successful runs for state-wide office in 1922 and 1928.

Ohio women organized a second effort to amend the Ohio constitution in 1914, using the  initiative. Allen again took to the lecture circuit; she shared a platform with fellow supporter, Cleveland Mayor Newton D. Baker in March, 1914. [17] As Baker watched from the grandstand, a great parade of 10,000 women and men, including Allen, marched through Cleveland streets on October 4.  [18] Allen predicted a win: “I have visited more than forty Ohio counties in this campaign … [M]any women opposed to suffrage two years ago now are heartily in favor of it…. [M]en are changing from a position of direct opposition or indifference to open espousal.” [19]  Her colleagues chose her to debate the prominent anti-suffragist Lucy Price in Gray’s Armory. Anti-suffragists, often wealthy and well-educated women like the suffragists themselves, argued that women’s place was in the home, not the polling place, and moreover, most women didn’t want to vote.  Allen took the opposite position.  Both arguments would have been difficult to prove.  Although no official winner was announced, Allen felt that she had won and accused her opponent of calling her “a short and ugly name.” [20] The initiative failed by an even greater margin than had the 1912 amendment.

Temporarily thwarted at the state level, suffragists switched tactics.  Persuaded by Allen and other suffragists, the authors of East Cleveland’s new charter in 1916 included a provision that allowed women to vote in municipal elections. The provision was challenged by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. The Cleveland Woman Suffrage League filed a taxpayers’ suit against the board.  Allen was their attorney and won the case before the Ohio Supreme Court.

This victory, plus her name recognition, won her the attention of the local Democratic Party, which appointed her an assistant county prosecutor.  This became the beginning of her judicial career.

Even before the suffrage amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920, Allen launched her campaign for municipal judge.  Because it was too late to enter a party primary, she quickly organized a petition campaign to get her name on the ballot.  Her fellow suffragists, many now members of the new League of Women Voters, came to her aid, as she had to theirs.  Allen herself spoke often, now on her own behalf.  Once in the race, she was endorsed by the league, by the Business and Professional Women and a host of other women’s organizations, and by all four Cleveland newspapers.  She led the field of ten judicial candidates.[21]

Allen ran as a non-partisan. She believed that judges should not be closely identified with one party or the other.  Moreover, she had broken with Democratic leader Baker over his endorsement of universal military training when he was Secretary of War during World War I.  She also hoped to get votes from both Democrats and Republicans, which she did. [22]

During these years in Cleveland, Allen met the leaders of the local suffrage movement like Harriet Taylor Upton, Elizabeth Hauser, Belle Sherwin, Zara DuPont, Lucia McBride, Mary B. Grossman, and dozens of others.  “Society women, professional women, rich women, poor women – a noble band of good workers.”[23]  She made personal friends and political alliances that would stand her in good stead for the rest of her career. She never forgot them; they never forgot her. “I was the beneficiary of the entire woman movement,” she acknowledged. [24]

ON THE MAIN STAGE: FIRST LADY OF THE LAW

Within months of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment and with these women’s help, Allen took her seat as Cleveland’s first female judge of the Common Pleas court.  She prided herself on her efficiency in the dispatch of justice. On the grounds that she was single, she refused to be sidelined to divorce court, choosing criminal law.  “[25] This was where the action was: Cleveland was then under siege by “organized and unorganized criminals” who robbed and murdered citizens, including policemen, almost with impunity.  [26] In her first term, 1921-1922, she disposed of 892 cases.[27]

Two of those cases made headlines.  The first involved a 1921 payroll robbery in which two men were murdered by a gang implicated in several other robberies. Their leader, Frank Motto, fled to California but was returned to Cleveland and Allen’s court.  In May 1921, during the jury trial, she had to clear the courtroom of suspicious looking men, who were carrying weapons.  She herself received a death threat: “On the day Motto dies, you die.” [28] The Cleveland Plain Dealershouted: “JUDGE ALLEN SENTENCES SLAYER …. In a calm, even tone, Judge Florence E. Allen pronounced the death penalty.” [29]  Motto died in the electric chair in August. Allen got police protection, became the “first woman judge to impose the death sentence,” and created a reputation as a fearless enforcer of law and order. [30]

She enhanced that reputation by sentencing a fellow jurist, former chief justice of the Common Pleas Court, William Henry McGannon, to jail for perjury. He had twice been acquitted of murder.  The Cleveland Bar Association, however, prosecuted him, and others, for false statements made during the trials.  Despite Allen’s efforts, bribes and witness-tampering took place before McGannon’s trial.  The jury found McGannon guilty, and Allen sentenced him to one to ten years in the penitentiary.  “[A] court has never been faced with a more disagreeable duty than that of sentencing a man before whom the court has practiced as a lawyer,” she reproached him. [31]

It was a spectacular first act, but Allen had set her sights higher.  In the summer of 1922, she briefly contemplated running for the U.S. Senate against the incumbent, Atlee Pomerene.  Instead, encouraged by Baker, she ran for a vacant seat on the Ohio Supreme Court. [32] The Cleveland Plain Dealer applauded: “her election was one of the best things that ever happened to this [Common Pleas] court …. [H]er service on the lower bench fully entitles her to aspire to the higher office.” [33]Her usual allies, former suffragists and women’s organizations, again organized her campaign.  She again ran a non-partisan campaign and won handily, the first woman to be elected to a state supreme court.  Six years later, as her term drew to a close, she again contemplated the Senate. Without the endorsement of the Democratic party but encouraged by women’s groups offended by Pomerene’s lamentable record on woman suffrage, she ran in the primary against him.  She lost but by a small margin. [34]

Allen won re-election to the Ohio Supreme Court in 1928, but in 1932, hoping to add to a Democratic landslide, she made a run for the U.S. House. She lost to Republican Chester C. Bolton, but she received her reward in March 1934, when she was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the first woman to sit on the federal bench.  Clevelanders honored her with a banquet, “an expression of esteem from the Cleveland Bar Association and the women of the city for Judge Allen’s achievements in her profession.”  Organizers included women who had fought for suffrage with Allen two decades earlier. [35] She was appointed the court’s chief justice in 1958, the first woman to hold this appointment.

Allen also became the first to be seriously considered for a Supreme Court position by Roosevelt and subsequent presidents.  Although she had strong support from local and national women’s organizations and political connections in Washington, she never received the appointment.   She claimed that she did not “expect such an appointment,” [36] but many of her supporters wanted it for her, and certainly so did she.

Perhaps her academic and professional credentials, both limited by her gender, were not strong enough.  Perhaps she was too closely identified as a Democrat; perhaps not closely enough.  Perhaps Americans just weren’t ready for a woman on the highest court of the land. [37] Not until 1981 did Sandra Day O’Connor get appointed to the Supreme Court.

Allen was a pioneer judge but not a pioneer jurist. The decisions she was proudest of supported the familiar agenda of the suffragists and the women’s organizations who had always backed her (the death penalty being the exception). In Reutner v. City of Cleveland(1923) she ruled that Cleveland had the right to adopt a city manager plan and proportional representation.  The League of Women Voters advocated both and continued to support the city manager plan long after Cleveland voters rejected it in 1931.  The league also favored laws that protected women in the workplace. Although the decision was not gender-specific, in Ohio Automatic Sprinkler Co. v. Fender(1923) Allen voted with the majority of her colleagues to over-rule lower courts and hold the company responsible for the woman employee’s injury. Women’s organizations continued to support special legislation for women in the workplace until the  1970s.

Her most significant decision – in January 1938 on the appeals court – ruled in favor of the New Deal’s Tennessee Valley Authority. The issue was whether the federal government had the authority to build the dams and waterways that would control flooding in the region and also market electric power.  Private power companies argued that this was unfair competition. The League of Women Voters had endorsed an earlier version of the plan in the late 1920s. [38] Clevelanders were familiar with  publicly owned utilities because of the municipal power plant established in 1914 when Baker was mayor of Cleveland.  In 1937, however, Baker was, initially, the lead attorney for the private power companies.  His side lost. Allen’s decision held that the TVA did not unfairly compete with private enterprise and more importantly, it upheld the federal government’s broad use of its powers.  Allen herself, in full judicial regalia, read aloud for an hour her decision before an excited, expectant audience in a jam-packed courtroom. [39] She was upheld by the Supreme Court.

This was probably her last bravura performance although she served on the appeals court until 1959. After retirement, Allen continued to make news, traveling and lecturing. In 1965, she published her memoir, To Do Justly.

During her long career on the bench, she had no opportunity to rule on women’s rights cases; those would emerge with second-wave feminism after her retirement.  In any case, despite her own unconventional life, she had conventional ideas about women’s responsibilities: family, home, work if necessary, and service to the community. Perhaps reflecting on the political challenges she herself had faced, she predicted, “No woman, no matter how qualified, will be nominated, much less elected, President of the United States.” [40]  Allen was more like Sandra Day O’Connor –  better known for her ability to get along with male judges [41]– than like the trail-blazing feminist, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

When Allen died in September 1966, the Cleveland Plain Dealerlamented the passing of this “distinguished, well-loved citizen.” [42]

ENCORE, ENCORE   

Distinguished and well-loved, but soon forgotten.  Why?

Maybe because she was from Cleveland, and most famous people are from somewhere else.

Maybe even Clevelanders don’t think Cleveland history is interesting enough to remember. Dr. Jeannette Tuve’s is the only definitive biography of Allen. The Cleveland Public Library system owns three copies; only one circulates.  Allen’s contemporary, sometime friend and sometime foe but always more famous, Newton D. Baker, doesn’t do much better. The Cleveland Public Library system owns four copies of Clarence C.H. Cramer, Newton D. Baker: A Biography (Cleveland: World Publishing, 1961) and three copies of Douglas B. Craig, Progressives at War: William G. McAdoo and Newton D. Baker, 1863-1941(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).

Maybe it’s just easier to forget women, even women like Allen who lived very public lives.

Of course, periodically we do “remember the ladies,” as Abigail Adams advised her husband John as he contemplated the American Revolution and she contemplated what freedom from the British might mean for those who were not male. John and his colleagues didn’t heed his wife’s advice.

In the 1910s and 1920s, when it looked as though the suffrage movement might, like the American Revolution, turn the world upside down, politicians remembered women – Allen, for example.  But in the following decades, attention turned to other things – the Great Depression and World War II, for example.

And then in the 1970s in the heady days of second-wave feminism, born of the civil rights movement, we re-discovered women in the American past.  Like Simakis, we were astonished – and exhilarated. We knew about the men, of course, – the presidents, the generals, the industrialists.  No one had ever mentioned that there were women back then. You’d think we could have figured it out.  And we did, and then forgot.

And today, in 2019, in the context of Hillary Clinton almost becoming President in 2016 and a record number of women elected to Congress in 2018 and because it is almost a hundred years since Allen and others fought for the vote – and Americans like centennials -, we are re-discovering women one more time.

But this story of Cleveland’s most famous woman reminds us that fame is fleeting. Simakis suggested – as Plain Dealer reporter Tom Suddes had earlier[43]– a remedy for our faulty public memory: a courthouse named for Allen, a more substantial memorial than existing portraits and plaques.  Simakis’s readers were enthusiastic.  Howard M. Metzenbaum and Carl B. Stokes have their names on courthouses:  why not “the gutsy, unstoppable FEA”?  One reader suggested that Allen’s life would make a good play.  Simakis concluded, “I can see the actress in Allen’s robes now, sitting in her chambers, opening that smudgy death threat [during the Motta trial] … [F]or sheer drama, her tenure as a judge in Cleveland is hard to beat.”  [44]

Allen was that actress; her whole life was that drama – from her five-year-old recitation of the Greek alphabet to her hour-long reading of her decision in the TVA case and all the lectures and stump speeches and marches and headlines in between. These made her Cleveland’s most famous woman.  For a while.

[1]  Plain Dealer, June 30, 2019: B3.

[2]   Don’t take my word for it. Reporter Grace Goulder described Allen as “Ohio’s most famous woman”, “Ohio’s first lady,” and the “world’s best known woman lawyer”: Cleveland Plain Dealer (CPD), October 6, 1935: 67. By my count, from 1900 to 2019, she got 1,466 mentions in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and for almost all those years, there was more than one Cleveland newspaper.

[3]   Allen had the good sense and sturdy ego to leave her papers to the Western Reserve Historical Society.  These became the basis for her definitive biography: Jeannette E. Tuve,  First Lady of the Law: Florence Ellinwood Allen(Boston and London, University Press of America , 1984).

[4]  Florence Ellinwood Allen, To Do Justly(Cleveland: The Press of Western Reserve University, 1965), 1.

[5]  Allen, 9-10.

[6]  Tuve, 10.

[7]  Allen, 19.

[8]  Tuve, 11.

[9]Allen, 19

[10]  Allen, 20.

[11]  Tuve, 12.

[12]  Allen, 26;28; 31. Virginia Clark Abbott, The History of Woman Suffrage and the League of Women Voters in Cuyahoga  County, 1911-1945(Cleveland: n.p. c. 1949), 52.

[13]  Tuve, 18.

[14]  Cleveland Plain Dealer (CPD),June 25, 1912: 12.

[15]  Abbott, 54.

[16]   Allen, 32.

[17]  CPD, March 3, 1914: 14.

[18]   Abbott, 38.

[19]   CPD, October 10, 1914: 5.

[20]   Allen, 34. What name can this have been?

[21]  Allen, 43-44.

[22]  Tuve, 54.

[23]Florence E. Allen and Mary Welles, The Ohio Woman Suffrage Movement(Committee for the Preservation of Ohio Woman Suffrage Records, 1952), 41.

[24]  Allen, 43.

[25]  Allen, 46.

[26]  John Stark Bellamy, The Maniac in the Bushes and More Tales of Cleveland Woe(Cleveland: Gray and Company Publishers, 1997), 219.

[27]  Allen, 51.

[28]  Allen, 28.

[29]  CPD, May 15, 1921: 1.

[30]   Allen, 56.

[31]   Allen, 62. McGannon was released after 19 months because he had diabetes.

[32]  Tuve, 63.

[33]  CPD, June 14, 1922: 6.

[34]   Allen, 75-77.

[35]   CPD,  March 25, 1934:16.

[36]  Allen, 110.

[37]  Tuve, 124-126.

[38]  Tuve, 117.

[39]  Tuve, 116-122.

[40]  Quoted in Tuve, 141.

[41]  Evan Thomas. First: Sandra Day O’Connor(New York: Random House, 2019).

[42]  CPD, September 17, 1966: 14.

[43]  Plain Dealer, June 7, 2000: B9; January 9, 2002: 9B.

[44]  Plain Dealer, July 21, 2019: B 1, B 3.  I can’t resist pointing out that the Newton D. Baker Building on the Case Western Reserve University campus has been demolished. Brick and mortar are no guarantee that you’ll be remembered.

Elizabeth J.  Hauser: The Woman Who Wrote Tom L. Johnson’s Autobiography by Marian J. Morton

 

Florence Allen, Elizabeth J. Hauser and Greta Coleman 1914 wiki

Elizabeth J.  Hauser: The Woman Who Wrote
Tom L. Johnson’s Autobiography
by Marian J. Morton

The pdf is here
The book is called My Story.  Its cover shows Tom L. Johnson, Cleveland’s most famous, most beloved mayor, writing something – presumably this book, his autobiography. But it’s a good bet that he didn’t write much of it.  The woman who did – and who helped to create this enduring self-portrait of Johnson – was Elizabeth J. Hauser.  If he is Cleveland’s most famous, most beloved mayor, she should get some of the credit.  This is her story. Or part of it.

VOTES FOR WOMEN

Hauser became a suffragist at age 16 when she joined the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association (OWSA).  She was born in 1873 in Girard, Ohio.  Her parents, David and Mary Bixler Hauser, were German immigrants. [1] Her father was a butcher.

After high school, Hauser began her career as a journalist at local newspapers, including the Warren Tribune Chronicle.  She also worked closely with OWSA president, Harriet Upton Taylor, in the association’s headquarters in Warren, Ohio. In 1895, Hauser became press secretary for both the OWSA and the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).[2]  She considered herself a writer and journalist all her life.

When the NAWSA moved its headquarters to Warren in 1903, Hauser ran the office. She had already become a force in the Ohio suffrage movement. The Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1899 described her as “probably the youngest active worker in the cause for equal rights.”[3] The newspaper also carried her call to the seventeenth annual convention of the OWSA in Cleveland in 1902: she declared,  “Ohio, a great progressive commonwealth, … still holds its intelligent women, politically, in the same class as minors, lunatics and criminals.” [4]

Hauser had certainly met Johnson before she arrived in Cleveland in fall 1910. He had been converted to the cause of woman suffrage by Marie Jenney Howe, at least according to her husband Frederick C. Howe, a close friend and political ally of Johnson. [5] Johnson and Hauser both spoke at the annual convention of the OWSA in Youngstown in October 1907: “Friends and enemies alike [were] invited to attend.”[6] In 1909, after the NAWSA and Hauser moved to New York City, Johnson visited its new headquarters.

While she was working in New York, Hauser met Joseph Fels, a wealthy soap-manufacturer (Fels Naptha), who, like Johnson, had become a single taxer.  Fels established a foundation to further the single tax cause, and in August 1909, he hired Hauser to work for the foundation for $2,000 a year. [7] Fels, a close friend and supporter of Johnson, probably paid her to edit My Story.

Hauser’s primary assignment when she came to Cleveland was to organize Cleveland suffragists into the Cuyahoga County Woman’s Suffrage Party.  She brought “new life and hope” to the Cleveland movement, [8] quickly opening an office and calling a meeting of interested women. She also found time to help out her friend Johnson, who needed a sympathetic editor for his autobiography.

EDITING MY STORY

When Johnson served as mayor of Cleveland, 1901-1909, he joined the ranks of nationally known mayors, including Hazen Pingree of Detroit and Samuel “Golden Rule” Jones and Brand Whitlock of Toledo, who represented Progressive reform at the local level.  In this context, Johnson embarked on My Story to explain how an extraordinarily successful man like himself could have been defeated by the very Cleveland voters who had made him mayor in three earlier elections. His answer: I have been beaten by “Privilege.”

During the last five months of his life, in failing health, he dictated most of the book’s contents to Hauser.  She transcribed the material and organized into coherent chapters the words of a man skilled at public debate but not at writing narrative.  [9]  For this, he generously gave her credit in the book, and she is acknowledged also on the book’s cover.  But she did far more.  As she listened, wrote down, organized, and edited his words, she realized that Johnson was not telling the story of himself, or at least, not the story that Clevelanders and his fellow Progressive reformers wanted to read.  Her job was to tell that story.

Johnson describes in the first chapter of My Story his youth in Kentucky –  his father “a slave owner and cotton planter” [10] and reluctant supporter of the Confederacy, was left penniless by the Civil War.  Johnson at age eleven went to work selling newspapers on the train, where he learned that creating a monopoly – in this case of newspapers – was the easiest way to get rich.  His parents continued to move around as his father tried to figure out how to earn a living.  During this time, Johnson received his “one and only full year of schooling.”[11]   From there, he rose rapidly from inventing a streetcar farebox to owning streetcar lines in several cities in his early thirties and then to a mansion on Euclid Avenue. This rags to riches story is the stuff of much American autobiography.  Johnson probably included it only because Hauser urged him to: “It was with extreme difficulty that he was induced to include the few delightful personal anecdotes which lend such charm to the early chapters,” she confesses. [12] And indeed, Johnson’s own introduction to the book describes not himself, but “Privilege”  – “Big Business, corrupt bosses, subservient courts, pliant legislatures and an Interest-controlled press,” [13] with which he did battle and which not only defeated him but turned the book into a political treatise, instead of a story about its author.

My Story does paint lively portraits of some of Johnson’s personal heroes and political collleagues.   First among them, of course, was Henry George, whose book, Social Problems, converted Johnson to the single tax that would become his primary weapon in his fight against Privilege. His conversion from businessman to reformer – although not immediate – became a turning point in his life.    Johnson also admired George’s courage – his “willingness to ‘raise hell’ for the sake of a cause or to give one’s life for it.” [14] Another hero: Harrison Cooley, pastor of the Disciples of Christ congregation of which Johnson was a member, who reformed the city’s public facilities for the indigent, ill, and aged, which were named Cooley Farm in his honor.  And a brilliant young lawyer, Newton D. Baker, who became Johnson’s city solicitor and later mayor and still later Secretary of War under President Woodrow Wilson.  And also Peter Witt, who came to heckle Johnson and stayed to join his ranks. He became Johnson’s city clerk in 1903 and remained in Cleveland politics for decades.  Witt sometimes ran interference for Johnson. At one Cleveland City Council meetings, Witt – brushing aside the reasoned arguments of lawyer Baker – went after the directors of the Cleveland Electric Street Railway Company for insulting Johnson and members of council: “Witt not only denounced the policy and methods of the railway company, charging that in the past it had bribed councilmen, corrupted legislators, used dishonest judges …. But one by one he called the men present by name and shaking his finger at them declared the responsibility of each for the particular things of which he held that man to be guilty.” [15]

Johnson describes a few of his own dramatic moments. In 1897, when he was the political manager for George’s campaign for mayor of New York, he was hissed at a public meeting in Brooklyn.  He challenged “the group of hissers …. “’Well, what is it? What don’t you like…. ‘Well come on, give us some more of it.  I like it, it makes me feel good’ … But I got no response,” and the men slunk away.[16]  It became Johnson’s habit to publicly challenge his opponents to a debate; few men took him up on it.  As mayor, he urged a councilman to pretend to take a two thousand dollar bribe so that the briber might be revealed at the next council meeting. As the councilman publicly threw the bribe on the table, the briber was arrested as he ran for the door. [17]

These were skirmishes in his long battle against Privilege, the theme of his story.  “The city government belonged to the business interests generally …. The campaign funds came largely from business men who believed in a ‘business man’s government ,’ and who couldn’t or wouldn’t see that there was anything radically wrong with it.” [18] In 1907, Johnson ran for re-election against Senator Theodore Burton.  Here is Johnson’s version: “Privilege was fighting with its back to the wall now and stopped at nothing in the way of abuse or persecution, not of me only but of the men associated with me.  At their clubs, our boys were treated with … obvious insult…. Everywhere the campaign was the town talk.  In banks and factories, in offices and stores, on the [street]cars, in the home, in the schools … Even little children in the public schools engaged in the controversy.” [19] If there is a villain in the story, it is Mark Hanna, Johnson’s long-time political and business rival.  Hanna, the Republican kingmaker, denounced Johnson as a “the national leader of the Socialist party …. A vote for Johnson is a vote for chaos in this country …. Socialists like thieves steal up behind to stab.”  Johnson describes Hanna as “the representative and defender of Privilege.” [20]

But Johnson writes more about his political philosophy than about political drama. Chapters are devoted to teaching “the Lessons [the 1889 flood at] Johnstown Taught” (the flood was caused by “Special Privilege”) ;  “The Lessons of Monopoly” ( “law-made privilege” creates poverty, which in turn creates crime, corruption, and vice); “More Lessons of Monopoly” (the necessary corruption of private ownership of streetcars persuaded Johnson to get out of the streetcar business); “The Way Out” (Privilege blocks just taxation).  Many more pages teach about his other political platform than describe his actions: the single tax, municipally owned utilities, and municipal home rule. These “lessons” overwhelm not only the narrative, but Johnson, the narrator and the supposed topic of the book.

Only in formal portraits and in some of the fine photos by Louis Van Oeyen does Johnson appear front and center: addressing a tent meeting; surveying the line for the three-cent fare streetcar; driving the first 3-cent fare streetcar; receiving victorious election returns; chatting with a young citizen; entering the voting booth; signing bonds (this is the portrait that appears on the front of the autobiography).

Johnson ends the book optimistically: “The defeats of the movement loom large …. But it is a forward movement and this is the word of cheer I would send to those taking part in it. It is in the nature of Truth never to fail.” [21]   Days later, he died.  And to his contemporaries, the defeats still loomed large.

Hauser then had to edit an autobiography that was not – in its original form – very much about its subject; she had to focus on Johnson, and not on the defeated Johnson but on the victorious one.  It was an enormous challenge. She transcribed his materials as he lay dying, and she had to complete the book in the days shortly after his death so that it could be re-published as soon as possible in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. 

Her editing, and especially her Foreword and her concluding chapter, she explains, are intended to “capture the human quality in him.” Johnson was a reluctant autobiographer, focused on the present, not his own past; he bowed to public pressure to write about himself only “after he became so ill that the slightest physical or mental effort was a severe strain.” [22]

Hauser makes no pretense of journalistic objectivity.   Johnson was a “Big, brave, dauntless, resourceful soul.” [23]  So self-effacing that only at her urging, did he include the details of his early life.   So modest that he understated “the overwhelming odds against which he fought and conquered” and the “persecutions and cruelties of the street railway company and the business interests allied with it” that included the Chamber of Commerce, the retailers, the lawyers, doctors, and ministers. [24] He had great moral courage, championing causes before they became popular: municipal home rule, just taxation, initiative, referendum, and recall.  And “After he became convinced of the justice of woman suffrage, he made several speeches for it.” [25] (Johnson apparently did not mention woman suffrage in the dictated materials, and Hauser did not add it.)  Hauser lists the accomplishment he had omitted: an efficient city government, a building code, a forestry department, street-paving, bath-houses, parks and recreation facilities, all achieved without graft or scandal. [26] She repeats Lincoln Steffens “estimate of Mr. Johnson as ‘best mayor’ and of Cleveland as ‘the best governed city in the United States.’” [27]

Johnson also did not mention his wife, daughter, and son. Nor did Hauser.

Autobiographers don’t get to write about their own deaths, but Hauser finishes My Story for him. Hauser’s concluding chapter, “Blessed the Land That Knoweth Its Prophets Before They Die,” likens Johnson to the towering Biblical figures who spoke truth but were too often ignored.  Hauser describes Johnson’s last painful months, his last public speeches to cheering audiences, his brave death on April 10, 1911, the weeping crowds who watched his passing hearse.  She quotes the Cleveland Leader: “’The heart of the city stopped for two hours while the simple cortege passed through the lines of silent, grief-stricken men and women.’”[28]

Hauser had written Johnson’s eulogy.   She started out to humanize him; instead she had turned him into a saint.

Newspaper headlines informed readers about Johnson’s last days: “ JOHNSON’S DEATH MATTER OF HOURS”;  “TIRED OUT, JOHNSON AWAITS HIS DEATH.”[29]  Barely two months after his death, the Cleveland Plain Dealer announced that it would serialize the book: “Tom L. Johnson’s own story – written by himself.” [30] Well, not exactly.

But My Story  – and Hauser’s version of this heroic reformer pitted against the powerful status quo  –  became “the single most important surviving primary source concerning Tom L. Johnson’s role in the American reform movement and Cleveland’s reaction to his mayoral administration.”[31] She had begun his canonization.  Historians, sculptors, painters, journalists, and students would follow her lead. [32]

KEEPING THE FAITH

As the book was being prepared for publication, Hauser threw herself back into her suffrage work. In June 1911, she organized a rally at Cedar Point, where she shared the speakers’ platform with her old boss, Harriet Taylor Upton, and Johnson’s colleague, Newton D. Baker.  She enlisted the support of some of Cleveland’s “fashionable” women from its “first families. [33] In the 1911 Cleveland mayoral race – run without Johnson for the first time in a decade -, Hauser publicly challenged the six candidates to answer this question: “’Are you in favor of the political enfranchisement of the women of Cleveland and of Ohio?’”  All but one answered in the affirmative.[34]

Anti-suffragists, however, remained opposed.  In an effort to win them over, the suffragists interviewed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer in April 1912 assured its readers that women would not lose their femininity if they voted: “Why Bless Your Hearts, We’ll Be Just the Same,” read the headline. “Even the leader of the movement in Cleveland, Elizabeth Hauser, to whom has been accorded the credit of securing for the suffrage cause the official public recognition it has received, is of the womanly feminine type.” [35]

The suffragists’ immediate goal was to reform the Ohio constitution by putting on the ballot in 1912 an amendment that would have enfranchised women by changing the words that described a voter from a “white male” to “every citizen.” When enough signatures had been collected, Hauser traveled to Columbus to present the petitions to the state legislature.  She opened a headquarters for the Ohio suffrage movement there and registered as its lobbyist.  On the eve of the election, Hauser invoked the suffragist heroine Sojourner Truth’s dramatic testimony in Akron in 1851: “If the first woman God ever made [Eve] was strong enough to turn de world upside down all alone, dese women togedder ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again.  And now dey is asking to do it, de men better let them.’” [36] Truth’s speech won great applause. But the suffrage amendment lost by 87,000 votes. In August, Hauser had predicted the suffragists’ response to possible defeat: “The forces of evil may prevail to the extent of defeating amendment 23 …, but the righteousness of the measure is not thereby defeated.  Its operation is only deferred.”[37]

So Ohio suffragists tried again in 1914, this time using the referendum to amend the Ohio constitution.  Hauser continued as a field organizer for the OWSA, acting as its press agent and lobbyist, and then its chairman.  She spoke often and forcefully.  She told her audience in Salem, Ohio, “All just government is by the consent of the governed, and you cannot deny to woman the right to vote without repudiating the Declaration of Independence.”  Targeting the anti-suffragists, she argued, “There is no reason why a few sheltered, protected women, who realize nothing of the sufferings and wrongs and abuses of others of their sex, should be used as an excuse for defeating the cherished purpose of those who are awake, who would make of this a better land in which to live.”[38]  A month later she went after the “liquor forces” who opposed votes for women: “The liquor interests of Ohio are out to defeat woman suffrage…. [W]e believe the time has come when we must drive our most bitter enemy from seclusion and force a fight in the open.”[39]

Another defeat in 1914 inspired suffragists to pursue a narrower goal: a state bill that would allow women to vote only in presidential elections.  On its behalf, Hauser invoked Johnson: “if Tom Johnson were here, he’d be with us in this fight.” [40]This bill passed the legislature but was repealed by a referendum although the suffragists’ leading lawyer Florence Allen challenged its legality.

Ohio women – and all American women – did get the vote on August 18, 1920 after Congress and three-fourths of the states had passed the Nineteenth Amendment.

Months before, the NAWSA, led by Carrie Chapman Catt, anticipating this victory and its challenges, formally established the League of Women Voters (LWV) in February 1920.  In May, Hauser returned to Cleveland to help re-organize the Cleveland Woman Suffrage Party of Greater Cleveland into the new Cleveland LWV.  Suffragist leader Belle Sherwin was elected president of the local group; Hauser became a regional director.  Both would soon assume leadership positions in the national LWV. Sherwin was its president, 1924-1934.  Hauser served on the national board and executive council through the 1930s. In 1931, Hauser, Sherwin, Upton, and Allen, Hauser’s long-time friends and allies, were named to the national LWV Roll of Honor for their role in winning the vote.

Although the league had a broad-ranging reform agenda including minimum wage and protective legislation for women and more stringent child labor laws, its primary goal was to educate newly enfranchised women to vote and run for office to ensure that the long suffrage battle had not fought in vain.  The league also championed other political reforms that Johnson might have found congenial, such as the city manager form of government, initially supported, then opposed by Baker, and proportional representational voting, supported by Witt. [41]

The LWV was non-partisan, endorsing issues, not candidates.  This was a pragmatic decision since members and officers belonged to different political parties. For example, Upton was a Republican; Allen, a Democrat.

Hauser joined the Progressive Party as did Witt and Howe.  She returned to Cleveland in July 1924 for the party convention, which nominated Senator Robert LaFollette for President.   Identified as the president of the Ohio LWV, she was photographed with other “Progressive Bosses,” including labor leaders, trade unionists, Socialist Morris Hillquit, and Harriet Stanton Blatch, suffragist and daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. [42] LaFollette had supported woman suffrage early in his political career. The party platform endorsed familiar reform issues such as the public ownership of railways and water sources and just taxation.  Hauser and Witt served on the party’s Ohio Conference for Political Action. Her connections to women voters made her valuable to Lafollette; he added political breadth to the league.

Hauser served simultaneously the League of Women Voters and the Progressive Party, seeing both as logical expressions of her hope to reform American life.  Just weeks before the 1924 party convention in Cleveland, she addressed a league meeting in Buffalo on “Political Housekeeping.”  “It will be a great day for this country when the women voters, conscious of their might, undertake a political clean-up with the same vigor which characterizes their housecleaning…. Dare we suggest that it may even be necessary … to get a new house if the old one cannot be made healthfully habitable.[43]”  Johnson and LaFollette would have agreed about the need for a new house.

MY STORY,  OUR STORY, HER STORY

Thanks to Hauser, My Story became our story.   As Hauser well knew, the book was what Johnson’s devoted contemporaries wanted to read.  Her version of Johnson’s story also shaped all later conversations about Johnson and inspired historians, teachers, journalists, painters, poets, film-makers, and two fine statues, one in our Public Square. The story set the bar so high for later mayors that no one – except maybe Baker – has come even close to measuring up although Dennis Kucinich deliberately cast himself as Johnson’s heir.  Cleveland history buffs still like to read My Story.  We love Tom Johnson, the champion of Progressive reform, “the best mayor” of our “best governed city.”  And we read Hauser’s words about our “big, brave, dauntless, resourceful” leader and sigh wistfully, contrasting Cleveland’s golden years under Johnson with its decline under all the lesser mayors who followed.

Hauser’s own story, on the other hand, remains pretty much untold although she is less anonymous than the tens of thousands of her fellow suffragists.  No statues, no paintings, no books celebrate her.  But her name does appear on the bronze League of Women Voters National Roll of Honor.  And she did become a professional writer, an applauded speaker, a seasoned organizer, an activist who hobnobbed with the important women and men of her day. Not bad for the daughter of a butcher, from a tiny Ohio town, who had only a high school education. She never became mayor of a major American city.  But she helped to create one for us.

[1] https://documents.alexanderstreet.com/d/1009638274

[2] https://documents.alexanderstreet.com/d/1009638274

[3] Cleveland Plain Dealer (CPD), October 1, 1899: 24.

[4]  CPD, September 7, 1902: 6.

[5] Frederic C. Howe, Confessions of a Reformer (Kent, OH, 1988), 137.

[6]   CPD, October 6, 1907: 46.

 Morning News, August 7, 1909: 6.

[8]  Virginia Clark Abbott, The History of Woman Suffrage and the League of Women Voters in Cuyahoga County, 1911-1945 (Cleveland, 1949), 12, 15.  This is the best source on the local movement in this period.  See also http://teachingcleveland.org/how-cleveland-women-got-the-vote-by-marian-morton/

[9]  Tom L. Johnson, My Story (My Story), edited by Elizabeth J. Hauser, second edition  IKent, OHio, 1993),  xxvii-xxix.

[10]  My Story, 2.

[11]  My Story, 7.

[12]  My Story, xxviii.

[13]  My Story, vi.

[14]  My Story, 58.

[15]  My Story, 258.

[16]  My Story, 56.

[17]  My Story, 214-215.

[18]  My Story, 114.

[19]  My Story, 270.

[20]   My Story, 202-203.

[21] My Story, 294.

[22] My Story, xxviii.

[23]  My Story, xxxviii.

[24]  My Story, xxxviii.

[25]   My Story, xxxii.

[26]   My Story, xxxv.

[27]   My Story, xxxvi.

[28]  My Story, 313.

[29]  CPD, April 8, 1911: 1; CPD, April 9: 1.

[30]  CPD, June 15, 1911:12.

[31]  John G. Grabowski, Forward to Second Edition, My Story, xxiii.

[32]   Johnson has never lacked for hagiographers.  Here are only a few.

“America’s Best Mayor,” (2012) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v39bCf509BQ;

Robert H Bremner,   “Tom L. Johnson,” Ohio Historical Journal. Volume 59, January 1950, 1-13.

George Condon,  Cleveland: The Best Kept Secret (Cleveland, 1981).

Edmund Vance Cooke, “A Man Is Passing” (1910).

Brent Larkin, Plain Dealer, August 4, 2019: E 1.

Carl Lorenz, Tom L. Johnson  (New York, 1911).

Eugene E. Murdock,  “Cleveland’s Johnson: Elected Mayor.”  Ohio Historical Journal,  Volume 62, October 1953, 323-333.

“Progressive Reform for the Common Man,” (2009)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW8sJS6UPPw.

Hoyt Landon Warner, Progressivism in Ohio 1897-1917 (Columbus: 1964.

See also these: http://teachingcleveland.org/tom-l-johnson-aggegation/

Grabowski’s Foreword to the second edition of My Story makes a more cautious assessment xi-xxv.

[33] Abbot, 12-17.

[34] CPD, August 19, 1911: 3.

[35] CPD, April 7, 1912: 8.

[36]  Topeka Plain Dealer, Sept. 6, 1912: 2.

[37]  CPD, August 31, 1912: 9.

[38]  Salem News, June 11, 1914: 8.

[39]  Akron Beacon Journal, July 13, 1914: 2.

[40] CPD, December 10, 1016: 15.

[41] Abbott, 16, 18.

[42] Casper Star Tribune, July 5, 1924: 1.

[43] Zanesville Times Signal, July 13, 1924: 15.

Marian J. Morton is professor emeritus of history at John Carroll University and the author of many articles and books on Cleveland history, including three other Arcadia titles: Cleveland Heights, Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery, and Cleveland Heights: The Making of an Urban Suburb. She has written many essays for Teaching Cleveland Digital and for that we will be eternally grateful.

Sprawl vs. Smart Growth: Building an Equitable and Thriving Region at City Club of Cleveland 2/3/2021 at Noon


WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2021 AT 12 PM EST

Sprawl vs. Smart Growth: Building an Equitable and Thriving Region

  • Annette Blackwell
    Mayor, City of Maple Heights
  • Grace Gallucci
    Executive Director & CEO, NOACA
  • Edward H. Kraus
    Mayor, City of Solon
  • Moderator
  • Steven Litt
    Art and Architecture Critic, The Plain Dealer

On December 11, 2020, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) adopted a new policy prioritizing racial and economic equity when making regional decisions about highway interchanges. NOACA is the first metropolitan planning organization (MPO) in the state to require this level of analysis for proposed highway interchange projects. Previously, decisions were made primarily focused on the impact of traffic flow and safety; with the new policy, consideration will be given to economic development, environmental justice, quality of life, transit and bike use, and racial equity.

This new policy follows decades of highway additions and expansions that encouraged suburban and exurban sprawl at the expense of the urban core – a practice that is often cited as a contributing factor to the region’s racial segregation, persistent economic inequality, generational urban poverty, and struggling school systems.

Many supporters of the policy believe it is long overdue – and hope it will lead to greater cooperation to strengthen the region as a whole, rather than pitting communities against each other in competition for jobs and new development. Others question the practicality of any continued suburban expansion given the region’s flat population growth.

Join us as three regional leaders discuss the policy and its short- and long-term implications for the future of Northeast Ohio.

The livestream will be available beginning at 12 p.m. here:
www.cityclub.org/forums/2021/02/03/sprawl-vs-smart-growth-building-an-equitable-and-thriving-region?fbclid=IwAR2GQ2U4uYR3mYhumaAoeeIUDSqfuAqID7u2O-wHAYcdYHsbrOJjB3WWmRQ

Produced and hosted by The City Club of Cleveland. Community partner: League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland

Cleveland and Aviation History. What Could Have Been and Why It Didn’t By Michael D. Roberts

   
1) Fred Crawford (right) presents Thompson Trophy to aviator Roscoe Turner at Cleveland  National Air Races 1934(?) (WRHS)
2) National Air Race poster 1947
3) Lewis Research Center sign at entrance Brookpark Road 1962  (CSU)
The pdf is here

Cleveland and Aviation History.
What Could Have Been and Why It Didn’t
By Michael D. Roberts

           Billowy clouds,  majestically back-lite by the sun’s glow, is the sky above a Cleveland Labor Day. It  heralds the coming of fall, the best and most compelling season here.   Its arrival is accompanied by a fury of sound as demonstrating  air craft roar and roll in the heavens.

            The sky holds an important history for Cleveland which for a time was the citadel of the world’s aviation achievement and adventure.   And then, in later years, it played a key role in America’s race to the moon.

            However, the fame, glamor and prosperity  of aviation eluded  Cleveland over the years as the city lost its edge in innovation, partially because of bad politics, a loss of vision,  a crippling Depression  and  the government’s  dispersion of industry in World War II.  Some say the town never  fully recovered from these adversities.

            But as World War I drew to a close in 1918, Cleveland’s industries thrived and its development of technology continued  to be dynamic, an economy driven by steel, electrical machinery, chemicals, paints, machine tools, and automobiles. In 1920, Cuyahoga County ranked as the fourth most productive manufacturing region in the country.

            To support this diverse economic base was a financial infrastructure of 38 banks that encouraged the expansion of existing businesses and the development of new ventures.  Equally important, was the psychological dynamic that existed in that era’s political and business leadership. It embraced the future with a progressive pride that focused on achievement and wealth.

            This environment generated  opportunity and the greatest source of that ingredient was skyward.  World War I was the coming  of the airplane and the promise of a whole new industry beckoned  irresistibly  to visionary entrepreneurs.

            Ironically, the development of  American aviation had been hindered by the very inventors of the airplane.  The Wright brothers, who first few in 1903, claimed they owned patents to virtually every feature that constituted an aircraft.  The brothers were litigious in protecting their interests and succeeded in stalling the efforts of others to develop an aviation industry in the United States.

            While the air plane’s success in World War I foretold its future, not one American- made aircraft flew  in that conflict.   As a nation, the U.S. was far behind  the European countries in flight.

             When the United States declared war on Germany April 6, 1917,  Cleveland businessman Alva T. Bradley sought a way to take advantage of his avuncular  contacts in Washington.  The  U.S. Secretary of  War was Newton D. Baker, a former Cleveland mayor and a friend.   Procuring military equipment for the war was in the hands of another Cleveland businessman.

            Bradley, through  contacts in the sports world— he  was the managing partner of the Cleveland Indians— met Glenn L. Martin one day in California.

             Martin was 31 that fall in 1917, but  already was recognized as an aviation pioneer, pilot and inventor.  He had just endured an unpleasant business defeat  when he met  Bradley and was looking for a way to reconstitute his aircraft company.  Bradley was searching for ways to take advantage of the war effort and bring a new industry to Cleveland.

            Bradley convened Cleveland businessmen Charles Thompson, S. Livingston Mather,  A.S. Mather and W.G Mather to raise enough money to lure the  young aviator and his ideas to the city.  The company was originally located on 9th Street near Chester Avenue.

             The five investors raised $2.5 million for a  new factory which was relocated at East 162nd Street and St. Clair Avenue, eight miles from downtown. It employed nearly 400.  A small landing strip called Martin Field was constructed and used by the postal service as the city had yet to build an airport.  When Martin obtained a contract from the army to build bombers for the war, many of his workers from California joined him in Cleveland. The new Martin company was incorporated on September 10, 1917.

            Among those joining Martin would be Donald Douglas, Larry Bell, and Dutch Kindleberg who would go on to create such companies as McDonnell Douglas, Bell Helicopter, and Rockwell International. Martin’s company would  eventually merge into Martin Marietta.  Cleveland was poised at the cutting edge of aviation technology, but its political and business  leaders failed to realize it.

            By most accounts Martin was an odd character, and clearly one that would not fit in with Cleveland’s  Union Club crowd.   He had worked in the circus, flew in early movies,  raced automobiles, set  flight records and possessed   a quirky personality.  Even though The Cleveland Press cast him as one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, he  did not date.  He preferred the company of his mother, Mina, who was constantly at his side.

            A tall, thin man with thick black hair, circular eye glasses,  and a bit flamboyant in dress,  Martin possessed a strangely aesthetic appearance. One writer noted that he had “prissy” mannerisms and was often critical of the smallest things.  One business associate said of him that he was not the kind of man with whom you would want to spend a vacation.

            But Martin had a zest for the good life.  He drove around town with his mother in an ostentatious Stuz Biarritz automobile with snakeskin trim.  They lived in a 19-room, 2.-acre mansion on Lake Shore Boulevard in Bratenahl.

            The 61,000 square  factory at 16800 St. Clair was completed in April and the first prototype bomber flew on August 17.  In October, the  army flying service accepted the plane and ordered 50 MB-1s.

            The company built 20 bombers before the war ended in November of 1918 and with it the cancellation of the contract for  planes.  In 1919, the government continued to order a few MB-1s but the costs of production continued to rise while profits dropped and  the Cleveland investors soon lost interest.

            Only the intercession of Brigadier General Billy Mitchell, head of army aviation, saved the Martin company from failure.  Mitchell was an aviation visionary who sought to prepare the nation for the next war by investing heavily in air power.  At risk to his career, he funded Martin toward those ends.

            The Martin bomber did not see action in World War I, but it did find its place in aviation history when it sunk an obsolete German battleship in a highly publicized and controversial demonstration of air power promoted by Mitchell.

             Through out his Cleveland years Martin had been active promoting the need for a sizable airport that could meet the future needs of  a major city.  Martin Field had become a liability of sorts. People complained of crashes in the neighborhood.  The bombers could not be flown from the site and had to be transported by rail to the east coast at a cost of $800 per plane at which the government balked.

            In January of 1925, William R. Hopkins, the city manager of Cleveland submitted a document to city council that proposed a study of the possibility of constructing a municipal airport. There were no such facilities  in existence in the country.

            Hopkins assembled a panel of experts with unmatched experience  in aviation including Martin along with Billy Mitchell, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, of World War I fame, and other members of the army and navy air services.  They were assembled to select a site for an airport.  Martin had hopes that the city would provide land on the site for him to build  an aircraft factory. The city dashed those hopes just as the Baltimore Industrial Bureau contacted Martin, urging he move his company to that city. In the meantime, the Navy was advising that Martin  move his plant to the East Coast where seaplanes could easily be produced.

            An account in the The Cleveland Press at the time quoted a business man as saying it was the banks that drove Martin from the town.

            “They thought he was a screwball,” quoted one businessman.

            The refusal to aid Martin was a terrible mistake, one that  proved  harmful to the future of the city’s industrial base.  Years later Frederick C. Crawford, a contemporary and himself a significant figure in aviation here , would tell the writer that it was the plain stupidity of public officials here that  resulted in Martin’s departure.

            “To think that at  one time we had  five aviation pioneers here that would go on to create the biggest aircraft companies in the world and that we lost them is stunning,” Crawford said.

            Martin would go on to flourish in Baltimore, developing remarkable technology that went into some of the best aircraft in the world.  The advancements in aviation created by World II enabled the business  to prosper in peacetime.  The company eventually grew to be known as Martin-Marietta and employed as many as 50,000 at one point.

            Meanwhile, public interest in aviation was stimulated by the airplane’s role in World War I which was coming to a close.  Surplus planes and trained pilots suddenly became  available for commercial enterprise. At first, army pilots flew six-cent air mail on scheduled flights. What is considered to be the first official commercial use of air mail  in the U.S. occurred on August 12, 1918 when the Post Office Department initiated the service.

            Cleveland was an important way point on those early air mail runs.  Located between the busy postal hubs of New York and Chicago, the city was a key link in the emerging system. Cleveland’s first flights began in December of 1918 even though the city had no real airport.

            At first a crude landing strip was established at Woodland Hills Park at East 93rd and Kinsman Avenue.  The pilots complained of  the location because of the many trees surrounding it.  Landing was particular dangerous at night.

            When the weather made the park location inoperable, Glen Martin offered  the use of his facilities at St. Clair and East 162rd Street.  Postal officials informed the city that even Martin Field was inadequate and if the city wished to remain a principle stop in the mail system it needed a real airport. The  message was a wake up call for government and business officials.

            For those who find government’s grind indecisive and slow, the history of Cleveland’s airport is refreshing and remarkable. Hopkins presented a plan to city council in January of 1925. The site committee which included Glenn Martin had identified a location on Cleveland’s west side that was deemed perfect.  The city then promoted a $1,250,000 bond issue to purchase 1,014 acres of land from the city of Brook Park. It  was located 1.6 miles from Riverside Drive to the bank of Rocky River and 1.4 miles from Brookpark Road.  The original airport used only 100 acres of land and in all some 30,000 trees were cleared for its runways.

            The early days at the airport  consisted of a cement block building and a hastily cleared field with a 1,400 foot runway in what was then a remote part of town.  On May 1, 1925 a east bound flight landed with mail destined for New York.  It marked the first takeoff from the field. The airport was officially dedicated on July 1, attracting some 100,000 persons, a testimony to the era’s romance with aviation.

            The airport was the first municipally owned anywhere and within two years it was deemed the busiest  in the world with the traffic of eight planes every 24 hours.

            In retrospect the purchase of the land with the anticipation of the growth of aviation was one of the best decisions by a Cleveland government.  By 1935 the landing space had been expanded to over a thousand acres making it by far the largest airport in the world.  The four largest airports in Europe—Croyden in England, LeBourget in France, and Templehof in Germany could all be placed within the perimeter of Cleveland Municipal Airport with room  for yet air field similar in size.

            It was not just the size of the airport that drew admiration from the aviation community, it was the technology that Cleveland Municipal  Airport brought with it.  Claude F. King, who would go on to be the manager of the airport, invented the first lighted night landing system, a blessing for all the aviators who flew the mail.  And when then airport commissioner Major Jack Berry returned from a trip to England and witnessed the use of radio in the controlling of aircraft, he found  the ubiquitous and ingenious King had already installed a  radio which was  the first  voice two-way radio communication in the world. Now pilots could be advised of weather, field conditions and nearby air traffic.

            It was King’s conception of a control  tower featuring radio communication that was the principle on which every airport in the world would henceforth adopt and adapt to give aviation the global reach we know today.  In 1927, plans for a lakefront airport east of the 9th Street pier were first introduced. It took 20 years, and considerable land fill until it was completed as Burke Lakefront Airport.

            The world war had glamorized the airplane and the American public could not get enough of it as veteran pilots with surplus planes barnstormed across the county offering rides and entertaining crowds with aerobatics.  Youths built models and the movies heightened the interest with films flavored with romance, stunts and dog fighting.

            Aviation industries  blossomed and developed technology that leap-forged flying forward at a tremendous rate.  To test and heighten this technology air races were held and the first official national event took place on Long Island and was sponsored by The New York World in 1920.

            In Cleveland two men took special interest in the idea of national air races which were circulating through various cities for nine years.  Why not host an aviation extravaganza at the biggest airport in the world every year? They reasoned.

            Louis W. Greve and Frederick C. Crawford both lead companies that manufactured aircraft parts and had a decided interest in promoting their products while at the same time doing the same for aviation in general.   Greve was the president of the Cleveland Pneumatic Tool Company which made hydraulic landing gears.   Crawford at that time was general manager of Thompson Products which later would  become TRW.  Crawford would preside over that company in later years.

            Thompson Products had developed a sodium valve for aircraft engines that was used by Charles Lindbergh on his famous 1927  trans Atlantic flight to Paris.  Years later at his 100th birthday party, Crawford told me that the night before the flight he changed the valves in the aviator’s plane, the Spirit of Saint Louis, without the Lindbergh’s knowledge.

            “Lindbergh knew about flying, but not much about engineering,” Crawford said.  “If I hadn’t changed those valves chances are he would never have made it.” The later publicity that the company received from those valves in that plane proved to be  invaluable.

            Thanks to Crawford and Greve, Cleveland was selected for the 1929 national air races.  The town was beside itself as the opening ceremonies were held downtown with a parade comprised of 200 floats, 21 bands and hundreds of marchers attended by an estimated 300,000 spectators. The spectacle  shut down Euclid Avenue on a hot day late in August.  Three Goodyear blimps patrolled the skies above the celebrants.

            The next day more than 100,000 persons attended the first flying events in a sensational display of aviation that was reported world-wide.  There were demonstrations of techniques like dead stick landings, parachuting, acrobatics and a Navy  team that flew tied together with rope.   Charles Lindbergh piloted an open cockpit plane, banking over a standing crowd. Other aviation luminaries like Amelia Earhart appeared and each day there was a set of air races including an all woman’s contest known as the “Powder Puff Derby.”

            But what seemed to seize the crowd’s attention the most was the close -course racing which would become a hallmark of the event.  The first race was a flight of five laps around a 10-mile circuit marked by pylons with the finish line ending in front of the grandstands.  The winner averaged 194.9 miles per hour.

            That first race was sponsored by the Thompson Company and its trophy would later become emblematic of aviation’s highest achievement.  Air racing proved a dangerous pursuit as  six pilots lost their lives seeking  glory that weekend.

            In many ways that August air race  was the last good time that the city would experience for years. In two months the stock market would crash and pitch America into the Great Depression followed by World War II.

            In 1930 the races were held in Chicago, but because Cleveland had produced a $90,000 profit the year before the city was awarded the races for the next five years.  The races were canceled during World War II, but resumed in 1946. (As a child, the writer witnessed the races that year. It left him with an indelible  interest in aviation.) It was a spectacle of flight featuring powerful planes developed during the war along with the first jets.  The thousands who witnessed the demonstrations and races were awe struck by the noise, beauty and force of the event.

            But it was just that—the speed and power of the whole thing—that would ultimately cause the demise of the aerial extravaganza. Tragedy struck in 1949 when one of the racers missed a pylon and crashed into a house in Berea, killing a mother and child.  That effectively ended high-power air racing at the Cleveland airport.

            The races were important beyond the entertainment they provided.  In the 1930’s, suffering from the Depression, the government had little money to spend on research and development of aircraft. The races offered an alternative with its competitive spirit and pilots willing to push the envelope in developing engines and experimenting with fuels.

            This also translated to emergence of a substantial aviation industry in and around Cleveland.  While there was no company that built an aircraft from the sum of its parts, there were, over the years, ancillary businesses that played a big role in developing those parts that went into flight.  For instance, there was the Standard Oil salesman who accidentally discovered the Wright brothers at work in Dayton and recommended the oil that went into the first flight at Kitty Hawk.  Standard Oil of Ohio would later become a major sponsor of the air races.

            When Lindbergh made his famous flight to Paris, his plane was fueled with Standard Oil gas that ran  through tubing made the Parker Appliance Company on Cleveland’s west side. Later, after the war, the company bought the Hannifin Manufacturing Company and it exists today as Parker Hannifin a manufacture of aircraft values,  hydraulic supply systems, flight controls and other aviation products.

            The company had equipment on NASA’s moon landings.

            In the late 1930s the federal government, spurred by the dark events in Europe, realized that American aviation  was lagging behind that of the major world powers. German, Japan and England were producing the best aircraft based on advanced technology.  There was alarm and a sudden need to unlimber the nation’s celestial ingenuity.

            The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) announced a national  competition for an aircraft-engine research laboratory, a  venture that would cost an estimated $40,000,000 and be the largest such facility in the world. Some 40 cities applied for the project and the search was reduced to just five finalists, Cleveland being among them.  There was plenty of land adjacent to the airport which gave the city somewhat of an edge in the matter.

            Fred Crawford, not only  a capable  engineer, but an astute politician as well, seized on the idea like a man possessed.  The laboratory  would be a perfect companion for his company which  ultimately became TRW. It would also raise Cleveland’s profile in the aviation community.

            Crawford slyly pointed out to the search committee during hearings that Cleveland was beyond the range of German bombers and the Nazis undoubtedly would soon have aircraft that could threaten any East Coast sites that were proposed for the laboratory.

            The big obstacle facing the city was electrical power.  The Cleveland Electrical Illuminating Company did not have the capacity to produce the needed power to run the gigantic wind tunnel which was the  soul of the laboratory.  But at the last minute Crawford hit on a plan that would solve the problem.

            The wind tunnel would only be employed at night when the city’s electrical grids were in moderate use and with that ingenious stroke the huge laboratory found its home.

            The laboratory was dedicated on May 20, 1943 and consisted if 12 buildings and  wind tunnels able to produce winds of five hundred miles per hour. The facility was able to test aircraft engines at 67 degrees below zero.

            It should be noted how prescient the city’s leadership was in those days.  The acquisition of an immense acreage of land in the anticipation of the future of aviation lead to the development of an aircraft industry that then attracted the NACA laboratory which would later become NASA Lewis and play an important role in the Apollo program and the landing of a man on the moon.

            In many ways the work at the laboratory was vital, but esoteric in that it did not yield itself  to interesting publicity, leaving the public uninformed as to what took place within its sprawling confines. Added to that, much of the work was cloaked in secrecy. It played a major role in developing the engines and fuel that enabled B-29 bombers to fly at heights that Japanese defenders could not reach resulting in an end to that terrible conflict.

            With the end of World War II,  aviation entered a new era with the introduction of jet engines and research on fuels that would produce  supersonic speeds.   In 1950 the Lewis laboratory began to experiment with liquid hydrogen, a light explosive fuel that was difficult to manage but offered the ingredients that would propel heavy loads at high speeds.

            As the cold war began to grip the world, a lonely black B-57 could be seen by fishermen on Lake Erie  as it scooted  across summer skies, a curious sight that was shrugged off as an aerial oddity.  What few knew was that the jet was was equipped with one engine that was fueled by liquid hydrogen.   The engineers at Lewis were in the process of taming the volatile gas.

            On October 4, 1957, the American public awoke to the stunning news that the Russians had sent a satellite into space.  A sense of palatable panic seized the nation which prompted President Dwight Eisenhower to create a civilian organization that would shepherd all projects related to space into a single entity known as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  It would initially be organized and lead by the leadership of the Lewis Laboratory which was converted into a NASA installation.

            On  May 25, 1961,  President John F. Kennedy made a dramatic speech to  a joint session of Congress announcing a  plan to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade.  The mission was to became known as the Apollo project and its embryonic beginnings would be found  in the Cleveland scientific community.

            T. Keith Glennan, president of Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western Reserve University) was NASA’s first administrator and the first leader of the Apollo program was Abe Silverstein, the director of the Lewis Research Center.

            The real story of the moon landing on July 20, 1969 was liquid hydrogen.  The Russians were never able to develop a powerful enough  fuel to duplicate the feat, a crowning achievement for the

scientific team at the laboratory which is now known  as NASA  Glenn after astronaut John Glenn, the  first American to orbit the earth.

            But the sad addendum to this story rested in the  politics  connected to the establishment of NASA.  Despite all of  Cleveland’s contributions to the success of space flight, it was overlooked when it came to the creation of the agency headquarters.

            President Kennedy had put the space program in the hands of then Vice President Lyndon Johnson of Texas who was the masterful politician of his time.  Glennan learned this early in the project.

            According to his diary, Glennan received a call from Congressman Albert Thomas, a Texas Democrat, who headed the appropriations committee reviewing the NASA budget. The call dealt with where the headquarters of the Manned  Space Center  would be established.

            “Now look here, Doctor, let’s cut the bull, Thomas says. “Your budget calls for $14 million and I am telling you that you won’t get a god-damned  cent unless that laboratory is moved to Houston.”

            Later Lyndon Johnson would quip that Houston was closer to the moon than Cleveland.  It was a cruel demonstration of the lack of political clout that Ohio possessed in Washington.

BE IT RESOLVED… State Resolutions & Practice: Infusing Anti-Racism and Equity Into Ohio Schools 7pm ET, Wed, Feb 17 & Feb 24

BE IT RESOLVED… State Resolutions & Practice: Infusing Anti-Racism and Equity Into Ohio Schools

7pm ET, Wed, Feb 17 & Feb 24
Register: bit.ly/RealTalk_BeItResolved
FMI: www.RealTalkLWV.org

Join us for a 2-part series examining how to infuse Anti-Racism and Equity into Ohio’s Public Schools. Hear from the State Board of Education and the practitioners in Northeast Ohio who drive systemic and student programming.

PART 1: Wednesday, Feb 17 at 7pm

Members, past and present, of the Ohio State Board of Education will walk through the recently adopted ‘Resolution to Condemn Racism and Advance Equity and Opportunity for Black Students, Indigenous Students and Students of Color’.

Why the resolution was needed and how it will be implemented across more than 600 public school districts in Ohio.

PANEL: Ohio State Board of Education
Laura Kohler, President
Meryl Johnson, Dist. 11
​Linda Haycock, Dist. 1, Past
Stephanie Dodd, Dist. 9, Past

PART 2: Wednesday, Feb 24 at 7pm
Meet the educators and administrators who are successfully driving innovative student programming, instituting systemic policy changes, and combatting dangerous biases in education. Learn how their proven approaches have impacted student learning, addressed social-emotional health, and bridged opportunity gaps for thousands of students in Northeast Ohio.​​

Opening Speaker: Paolo DeMaria, Superintendent of Public Instruction
Ohio Department of Education

Moderated By: Rick Jackson, Senior Host and Producer, ​ideastream, WVIZ PBS, and WCPN NPR

Produced by League of Women Voters of Akron, Canton, Greater Cleveland, Hudson and Kent

 

Battle for the Ballot: Cleveland’s Suffragist Movement A talk by Dr. Mary Manning Feb 23, 2021 at 7pm


Tuesday February 23, 2021 at 7pm
Battle for the Ballot: Cleveland’s Suffragist Movement
A talk by Dr. Mary Manning
Zoom RSVP here:
https://cwru.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_BERUkSx2S9a5uvwFWrPpCQ

There is no complete record of the brave, often unnamed women who fought for their right to vote and finally triumphed in 1920. In conjunction with the Women & Politics exhibition at the Cleveland History Center, learn about a band of Northeast Ohio women who dedicated themselves to the public interest and grew into an organization that won the respect and confidence of the nation through the photographs, fashions, newspaper reports, and pamphlets they and their opponents left behind. This program will tell the story behind the local women who advocated for suffrage and went on to help establish the League of Women Voters.

Presented by Dr. Mary Manning, Western Reserve Historical Society

Cosponsored by Cleveland History Center, League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland and CWRU Siegal Lifelong Learning

 

Gerrymandering and Ohio video forum Thursday May 28 at 7pm

Gerrymandering and Ohio video forum
Thursday May 28 at 7pm
w/Michael Li, Brennan Center For Justice
Kathay Feng, National Redistricting Director, Common Cause US
Jen Miller, Exec Director LWV-Ohio
Catherine Turcer, Exec Director, Common Cause Ohio will moderate
Here is the video from the forum:

Here are the slides from the forum
In 2021, district lines will be redrawn. What can we expect in Ohio and nationally from the census delay and results, and their impact on #FairMaps. Watch national and local experts share their concerns and perspectives.
Cosponsored by Common Cause Ohio, Fair Districts Fair Elections Ohio and LWV-Greater Cleveland