Cleveland State Law Review:
Ohio’s Home-Rule Amendment: Why Ohio’s General Assembly Creating Regional Governments would Combat the Regional Race to the Bottom under Current Home-Rule Principles
Law review paper written by Jonathon Angarola
Cleveland State Law Review:
Ohio’s Home-Rule Amendment: Why Ohio’s General Assembly Creating Regional Governments would Combat the Regional Race to the Bottom under Current Home-Rule Principles
Law review paper written by Jonathon Angarola
Warner, Landon “Ohio’s Constitutional Convention of 1912,”
Ohio State Archaelogical and Historical Quarterly vol. 61, n. 1 (January 1952): 11-31.
|1||The 1912 Ohio Constitutional Convention Documentary|
|2||The 1912 Constitutional Convention|
|3||Ohio’s Constitutional Convention of 1912 by Landon Warner|
|4||The 1912 Constitutional Convention in Ohio: The Call-up and Nonpartisan Selection of Delegates|
|5||Ohio Constitution Website – Cleveland-Marshall Law School|
Chapter V from Ohio’s Constitutions: An Historical Perspective by Barbara Terzian. Published by Ohio University Press
V. THE 1912 CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
Having rejected a proposed new constitution in 1874, Ohioans voted against holding a convention at all when the issue came up in 1891. By 1909, the agitation for social and political reform associated with Progressivism had reached such a peak that the general assembly submitted a referendum on holding a constitutional convention to the voters a year earlier than required. The Ohio State Board of Commerce (OSBC), hoping to reform taxation, was a major supporter of a convention. Other reform groups—organized labor, woman suffragists, prohibitionists, and political reformers—wanted a convention to achieve their own goals.148
For a decade, Progressives, led by Tom Johnson, the mayor of Cleveland, had been trying to open the political system. Johnson and other Progressives, such as Cincinnati clergyman Herbert Bigelow, were strong supporters of governmental reforms such as the initiative and referendum and municipal home rule. For years, Bigelow’s Direct Legislation League had been trying to persuade the legislature to put constitutional amendments effecting such reforms on the ballot. Frustrated by their failure, they decided to generate public support for a new constitutional convention. They viewed a constitutional convention as a means to incorporate their reforms into Ohio’s fundamental law, beyond the power of political party bosses to repeal or subvert.149
For many business people, the first priority was reform of the tax system. The Ohio constitution required a uniform system of taxation whereby all property, regardless of its nature, was taxed at the same rate.150 Modern economists and tax experts decried such an old-fashioned and inefficient
system. The OSBC had tried to pass amendments changing the tax system via referenda in 1903 and 1908. Although garnering a majority of the
votes cast on the specific issue, both times the amendments failed to receive the absolute majority of all votes cast in the general election that was
required to amend the constitution.151
Willing to negotiate with reform-oriented business people, organized labor formed an important element in the Progressive coalition pressing for constitutional reform. Having secured pro-labor legislation from the state legislature, they had been frustrated by court interpretations restricting its application or ruling it unconstitutional altogether. They wanted to establish clear constitutional authority for labor legislation and to restrict the courts’ power to inhibit it.
Allied with other Progressive reformers, Ohio women’s rights activists wanted to assure the passage of a woman suffrage amendment. The Ohio Woman Suffrage Association (OWSA), reorganized in 1885, had operated continuously ever since. By 1910 it had very strong ties with the national women’s rights organization, the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Harriet Taylor Upton, the leader of the state association, was also NAWSA’s treasurer and located its headquarters in the Warren County courthouse from 1903 to 1910.152 OWSA coordinated activities for major
suffrage campaigns, although some other women’s organizations, such as the Woman’s Taxpayers League and the College Equal Suffrage League,
remained independent of it.153
Prohibitionists also linked their reform to Progressive notions of using the state to promote social well-being. Because most observers believed women to be more inclined toward prohibition than men, that particular reform was linked, at least in people’s minds, to the woman-suffrage movement. The leading state and national organization advocating prohibition was the Anti-Saloon League (ASL), founded by Ohioans in the 1880s. The ASL had been so successful in passing local-option laws that sixty-three of Ohio’s eighty-eight counties prohibited the sale of alcohol as of mid-1909. The alcohol industry had tried to counter the ASL with its own public relations campaign aimed at convincing people that regulated saloons rather than prohibition were the solution to alcohol-related problems. The Ohio Brewers Association developed a program of driving saloons connected with gambling and prostitution out of business. As part of the campaign, the association had supported legislation that defined the appropriate “character” of a person owning a saloon. By 1911, its campaign seemed to be yielding success; eighteen counties had reverted to “wet” status. The constitutional convention would provide Ohio’s liquor interests with an opportunity to build upon their success. The “drys,” in contrast, hoped to promote statewide prohibition.154
The proponents of the convention were helped significantly when the legislature decided to permit political parties to place the issue on the party ticket, so that a straight party vote meant a vote for the convention. With so many different reform groups supporting a convention and with both parties endorsing it, the proposal passed handily in the referendum 693,263 to 67,718, far surpassing the required majority of 466,132.155
Attention then turned to the election of delegates, scheduled to take place along with the municipal elections in the fall of 1911. Districting for representation at the convention would mirror the elections for the lower house of the general assembly. The election would be nonpartisan, although candidates could formally declare whether they supported submitting the liquor-license question to the voters.156
Political reformers formed the Ohio Progressive Constitutional League to advocate on behalf of candidates who would support the initiative, referendum, recall, and municipal home rule. In Cincinnati, representatives from businesses, clubs, trade associations, and trade unions joined to organize a slate of reform candidates. In Columbus, the Franklin County Progressive League sponsored a slate composed of representatives of farmers, business, and labor. In Cleveland, organized labor played a major role, throwing its support to the Cuyahoga branch of the Progressive Constitutional League rather than the business-oriented Municipal Association. In the less urban areas, some Granger-labor alliances formed; in other areas, local Progressive Constitutional leagues led the effort to elect pro-reform candidates.157
The Ohio Woman Suffrage Association voted to petition the convention to submit a woman suffrage proposition separately from the rest of the new
constitution. It formed a campaign committee, opened campaign headquarters in Toledo, conducted field work, and tried to encourage the election of sympathetic delegates.158
With such an array of Progressive forces enlisted in the campaign to elect delegates, the resulting convention had a distinctively Progressive character. There were 119 delegates: fifty-nine from rural areas, thirty-two from towns, and twenty- eight from urban areas. Sixty-two of the delegates were affiliated with the Democratic Party, fifty-two were Republicans, three were Independents, and two were Socialists. According to historian Lloyd Sponholtz, the typical delegate was a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, college-educated professional from a small town. Once again, law and farming were the most common occupations among delegates, with a smaller number of laborers, bankers, and teachers. Most delegates could be identified as Republicans or Democrats, but, in a rebuke to political “bossism,” fewer than a third had previously held office.159 The Ohio Woman Suffrage
Association estimated that fifty-six of the 119 elected delegates supported submitting a woman- suffrage amendment to the electorate.160
Progressive leader Herbert Bigelow was elected president of the convention on the eleventh ballot, receiving more support from Democrats than from Republicans, an indication that the former were more sympathetic to reform than the latter. The convention created twenty-five committees to which proposals and petitions were sent for consideration. The delegates adopted rules similar to those of the Ohio House of Representatives, except that debate occurred on the second rather than the third reading of a proposal and that the author of any proposal could force it to the floor if it languished in committee for more than two weeks. Those committees deemed most important received twenty-one members, each representing a congressional district. The delegates worked in committees on Mondays and Fridays; the full convention met during the rest of the week.161 Early in the
proceedings, the delegates decided to amend the Constitution of 1851 rather than to write a completely new one—perhaps with the fiasco of 1873-1874 in mind.162
As one of the leading advocates of the initiative and referendum, Bigelow naturally created a committee that was strongly sympathetic to it. Robert Crosser, who had submitted a home rule bill in the legislature in 1911, chaired the committee that had charge of it. Bigelow also caucused with sixty Progressive delegates to assure a favorable response once a proposal came to the convention floor. This process produced a recommendation for what the sponsoring committee called direct and indirect initiatives for legislation and constitutional amendments, each with different technical requirements. An indirect initiative was a proposal that first went to the legislature for action; a direct initiative went straight to the voters. The committee proposal made it more difficult to initiate directly a law or an amendment than to initiate them indirectly. A petition for direct initiation of legislation had to contain a number of signatures of electors equaling eight percent of the votes cast for the office of governor in the preceding election. Direct initiation of a constitutional amendment required a number of signatures equaling twelve per cent of the votes cast in the preceding gubernatorial election. An indirect initiative for legislation or a constitutional amendment required only half as many signatures. In all cases, the signatures had to come from at least one half of the counties in the state. The committee also proposed a referendum process by which voters could challenge a law passed by the general assembly and have the electorate vote whether to approve or reject the law. Those petitions required a number of signatures equaling six percent of the votes cast in the preceding gubernatorial election.163
The debate in convention centered on the number of signatures required to initiate the process and on whether to eliminate direct initiatives and to permit only the indirect method. The debates manifested a concern that the initiative would be used to pass taxation measures. The final proposal permitted direct initiation of constitutional amendments only, and required a number of signatures equal to ten per cent of the votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election to place the amendment on the ballot.164
Indirect initiation of laws would require a number of signatures equaling only three percent of the number of votes cast in the previous gubernatorial
election. If the general assembly rejected the proposal, amended it, or failed toact on it within four months, its proponents could force a vote by the
electorate by filing a supplementary petition with a number of signatures equaling an additional three percent of the votes cast at the previous
gubernatorial election.165 Electors could also force a referendum on an ordinary bill initiated and passed by the general assembly by obtaining a
number of signatures equaling six percent of the votes cast in the previous election.166 All petitions had to include signatures from at least one-half
of Ohio’s counties.167 The provision explicitly prohibited using the initiative process to secure either a single tax or tax classification.168
Sponholtz’s roll-call analysis indicates that opposition to the initiative and referendum came from rural and small-town Republicans. Democrats uniformly supported the initiative and referendum, with the greatest support coming from urban Democrats. Unable to prevent the proposal of an amendment to institute the initiative and referendum, conservatives still achieved a number of their goals by restricting the initiative process to the indirect method for legislation and by securing the concession that it could not be used to institute the single-tax idea.169
Conservatives even more vigorously opposed the recall process, whereby voters could terminate an elected official’s term prior to its expiration. Some argued that the terms of office were short enough to make recall unnecessary. Others worried that it could threaten the independence of the judiciary unless judicial officers were excluded from its provisions. Although an advocate of the recall was able to persuade the committee to endorse and report the measure to the convention, the delegates tabled the matter indefinitely. Instead, they proposed a fairly weak amendment to the constitution that authorized the legislature to pass laws to remove any officer guilty of moral turpitude or other offenses. Hostility to the recall was evenly spread across the political parties. More Democrats than Republicans supported the proposal; even so, only a minority of Democrats supported the stronger version. Even urban Democrats—the strongest supporters of the initiative and referendum—split on the issue.170
Urban home rule also proved divisive. The 1851 Constitution required the legislature to provide for the organization of cities and the incorporation of villages. Another part of the constitution required that all laws be uniform.171 The supreme court had sustained legislation that had classified cities
according to population and then treated them differently on that basis. This approach resulted in a range of types of city organization even for cities
with similar populations. For example, Cleveland had a strong mayor, while Cincinnati had a figurehead mayor with a powerful city council and board
of administration. In a suit instigated by traditional political leaders to clip the wings of Progressive mayors—especially Cleveland’s Tom Johnson—
the Ohio Supreme Court in 1902 had invalidated all city charters for violating the constitutional requirement of uniformity of laws. The court then had
delayed execution of its order to give the boss-dominated legislature time to pass a new municipal code. Progressives, who predominated in some
cities, especially Cleveland, now pushed hard for home rule to reverse their earlier defeat.172
The “liquor question” figured into the debates. “Drys” did not want home rule to be used by cities to overturn state laws permitting subdivisions to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages. They were able to pass a proviso that no municipal laws could conflict with the general laws of the state. Both Republicans and Democrats generally supported home rule; it was primarily the rural delegates who expressed concern over its effect on local option.173
In the end, the constitutional convention passed a proposal that allowed local governments to choose among three alternatives: (1) to operate under the general laws of the state; (2) to amend a current charter; or (3) to call a charter commission to change or revise a charter. The amendment also provided that a municipality could own its own public utilities, a proposition that passed over the strenuous opposition of the public utility companies. The state legislature retained some control over localities through the operation of general laws and through some financial oversight. The convention delegates further reformed the political system by giving the governor a veto and establishing rules to govern the appointments to the civil service.174
Reformers and labor leaders had criticized the state courts for overturning labor legislation and maintaining common-law doctrines that advantaged employers at the expense of workers. The main criticism of the judiciary from lawyers and judges, on the other hand, was that the circuit court system was not working. When the circuit court heard appeals from lower courts, the losing party received a trial de novo there. Critics opposed this “two trial, one review” system. Lawyers and judges also criticized the requirement that each circuit court sit in every county seat in its district twice a year. The largest circuit included sixteen counties, forcing its judges to spend a lot of time on the road, and some other circuits were not much better. Two delegates led the judicial reform efforts in the convention: Judge Hiram Peck, who chaired the Judiciary and Bill of Rights Committee, and former Judge William Worthington, who also served on it. Peck’s proposal became the majority report; Worthington’s became the minority report.175
Both Peck and Worthington agreed that there should be a “one trial, one review;” that the jurisdiction of circuit courts should be limited to appellate review; and that the jurisdiction of the supreme court should be limited to constitutional cases, cases of conflict among the circuits, and cases the court deemed to be of “great public interest.”176 But Peck and Worthington also disagreed on significant matters. Peck proposed that the supreme
court remain at six justices with a three-to-three vote affirming lower court rulings. Responding to criticism of the court’s anti- Progressive activism,
Peck’s proposal required a unanimous supreme court vote to reverse a lower court decision or to declare a law unconstitutional.
Worthington’s conservative alternative proposed expanding the court to seven judges by the addition of a chief justice, a position that previously had simply rotated among the six judges. Worthington’s proposal eschewed the obstacles that Peck’s put in the way of judicial review and gave the court direct jurisdiction over appeals of state administrative regulations. He included this last provision at the particular behest of the Railroad Commission, which had complained that its regulations routinely became embroiled in litigation. The Ohio State Bar Association endorsed Worthington’s more conservative proposal over Peck’s.177
The debates concentrated on whether to require a minimum number of justices to declare a law unconstitutional and on the “one trial, one review” system, with the most time spent on the latter. The delegates compromised, but nonetheless gave labor and other Progressive groups a big victory. They proposed adding a chief justice and provided a complex rule for determining the constitutionality of legislation. If a circuit court sustained the constitutionality of a law, it would require the votes of all but one of the supreme court judges to reverse the decision and find the law unconstitutional. If the circuit court overturned a law, a simple majority of the supreme court judges could either reverse or sustain the decision. The supreme court would continue to have original jurisdiction in writs of prohibition, procedendo, and habeas corpus, and would be able to bring cases up on appeal through writs of certiorari.178
Under the adopted proposal, the circuit courts would provide appellate review of lower court decisions, with a trial de novo only in chancery cases. The circuit court’s decision was final except in constitutional questions, felonies, cases of original jurisdiction, and cases certified to the supreme court. A circuit court could reverse on the weight of the evidence only with a unanimous decision; on any other basis, a simple majority would suffice. Conflicting decisions among the circuits would be certified to the supreme court.179
Tax reformers, beaten down by the opposition of rural delegates to the most important elements of their program, were less successful in securing changes they wanted. Ohio’s 1851 Constitution required that real and personal property be taxed at the same rate. The OSBC urged the convention to propose an amendment permitting classifications of subjects of taxation and requiring uniform taxation only within the classifications, exempting federal and state bonds from taxation entirely. The OSBC succeeded in having its proposal reported from committee, supported by urban delegates who were worried about revenues keeping up with urban growth. Rural delegates disagreed, and their minority report mandated a uniform rule of taxation, with public bonds included.180
The convention roundly defeated the majority report by a vote of ninety-seven to nineteen and adopted the minority report as the basis for discussion. Debate centered on the rural delegates’ desire to provide constitutional sanction for the existing law’s cap on taxation.181 Rural delegates also opposed giving the legislature the power to classify property for taxation at different rates. Urban delegates tried, but failed, to give the voters a choice between a uniform tax provision and one authorizing classification. The third area of debate centered on exempting municipal bonds. Municipal bonds had been taxed as personal property prior to 1905 when voters ratified a constitutional amendment exempting them. Rural delegates did not like the exemption and wanted the constitution to eliminate it.182
The delegates finally compromised to some extent. Taxation would be uniform, and state and municipal bonds would be subject to taxation. The legislature could choose either a uniform or graduated income tax. The proposed amendment permitted franchise and excise taxes; taxes on coal, gas, and other minerals; required a sinking fund to pay the principle and interest on any indebtedness; and forbade the state from incurring debts for internal improvements other than road construction. In an “attempt to salvage as much as possible by surrendering the principle of classification,” urban delegates persuaded the convention to drop the proposal for a constitutionally mandated limit on taxation. In its final form, the amendment “pleased no one.” The OSBC did not get classification; rural delegates did not get a tax limit; and urban delegates, still worried about revenue keeping up with growth, lamented the lack of municipal control over revenues.183
In addition to its success in restricting the supreme court’s power of judicial review, organized labor also obtained seven amendments embodying much of its constitutional reform program: a maximum eight-hour work day on public works; the abolition of prison contract labor; a “welfare of employees” amendment authorizing the legislature to pass laws regulating hours, wages, and safety and health conditions; damages for wrongful death; limits on contempt proceedings and injunctions; workers’ compensation; and mechanics’ liens. There was little resistance to any of the proposals except those abolishing prison contract labor and limiting court injunctions.184 Because domestic and farm labor were exempted, the “welfare of employees” amendment drew little opposition except from a few employer delegates.185 The final prison-labor proposal abolished the existing system but permitted prisoner-made products to be sold to the state and its political subdivisions, and encouraged convict road gangs.186
The proposal to limit court injunctions produced heated discussion. Organized labor particularly wanted an amendment that would bar courts from issuing injunctions in strike situations and also sought the right to a jury trial in the contempt proceedings that often followed when strike leaders violated the injunctions. The Committee on the Judiciary and Bill of Rights reported a proposal favorable to labor, but the delegates voted it down on the floor of the convention. Nonetheless, labor supporters were able to pass a proposal that an injunction could be issued only “to preserve physical property from injury or destruction.”187
Woman suffragists also had a good deal of success at the convention. Harriet Upton and other OWSA representatives successfully lobbied the president of the convention to appoint sympathetic members to the Suffrage Committee. When the convention met in Columbus in January 1912, suffrage organizers opened headquarters there.188 Suffragists registered as official convention lobbyists and worked to influence members of the Elective Franchise Committee, drafting a suffrage proposal for the committee’s consideration.189 The suffragists also testified, discussing the differences between men and women and insisting that men could not fairly represent women. Advocates argued that women were needed in politics to work for better roads and against impure food and high living costs.190
Other women organized to oppose the proposed amendment. They, too, testified before the Suffrage Committee and held a rally. The anti suffragist witnesses favored limiting suffrage to exclude working people and those of foreign birth. They argued that granting universal suffrage would permit undesirable women to vote. On February 14, 1912, the committee issued its report, rejecting the anti suffrage arguments and proposing an amendment to Ohio’s constitution that would remove the words “white male.” Newspapers nicknamed the committee report the “Con-Con’s valentine” to Ohio’s women.191
The male delegates speaking in favor of woman suffrage echoed the arguments the women had made in committee. They consistently argued that women were the equals of men and that the right to vote was a natural, inalienable right.192 Delegates who supported the initiative and referendum must, to be consistent, also support submission of the woman suffrage proposal.193 Some supporters urged support of woman suffrage to promote the chances of prohibition.194 Opponents argued vociferously that voting was not a right, but a privilege, which carried duties and responsibilities. It was unfair, they reasoned, to place this burden on women when a majority of them did not want it.195 Three times opponents of suffrage attempted to pass a proposal that would have required a preliminary referendum among Ohio women. Only if a majority of them voted in favor of suffrage would the amendment be presented to the male electorate for ratification. Each time the proponents of woman suffrage tabled the proposal.196
At the close of debate, the delegates voted in favor of the amendment by a margin of seventy-four to thirty-seven. They also voted seventy-six to thirty-four in favor of submitting the amendment to the electorate as a separate proposal.197 The convention subsequently decided to submit every proposed amendment as a separate item. The suffrage amendment appeared as the twenty-fourth of forty-two proposed amendments.198
After losing the vote on the amendment, opponents of woman suffrage turned to one last tactic that they hoped would defeat the amendment in the ratification election. They proposed an amendment that would remove only “white” rather than “white male” from the qualifications of electors, hoping to divert African American men from supporting the proposed universal-suffrage amendment by providing a male-only alternative.
Prohibitionists won support from a broad range of delegates, from Progressive reformers to rural conservatives. But the liquor industry had expended great energy in an effort to protect its interests, as well. Moreover, some urban Progressives and labor-oriented delegates worried that prohibition was aimed at their constituents. The liquor issue was couched in terms of licensing as opposed to no licensing because of the quirky language placed in Ohio’s constitution in 1851: “No license to traffic in intoxicating liquors shall be hereafter granted in this state; but the general assembly may, by law, provide against the evils resulting therefrom.”199
Thus, the liquor industry wanted to authorize licensing, while the advocates of prohibition opposed it. The Liquor Traffic Committee considered a number of proposals, with prohibition at one extreme and licensing, the details of which would be left to the general assembly, at the other. The committee issued both a majority report and a minority report. The majority report, sponsored by the known “wet,” Judge Edmund King of Sandusky, called for licensing without constitutionally imposed restrictions, while at the same time permitting local option laws. The minority report, advocated by the “drys,” contained strict restrictions on licensing.
After two weeks of intensive debate, the delegates rejected both versions. It became clear that the “wets” would be unable to get a licensing amendment without restrictions; the debate now centered on “no licensing,” which maintained the status quo, versus permitting licensing with severe constitutional restrictions. Delegates debated such issues as the number of saloons per capita, the number of infractions that would result in license revocation, how much home rule cities would have, and what “good character” limitations would be placed on licensees. Finally, the delegates decided to give the voters the choice of no license or restricted license. The restrictions included licensing no more than one saloon per five hundred inhabitants, the requirement that a licensee be a citizen of the United States of good moral character holding no other liquor interests, and that he reside in the county where the license was issued or the adjacent county.200
The delegates decided to have the ratification ballots list each amendment separately, to be voted on separately with a majority of the votes cast on each amendment sufficient for its passage. The delegates also voted that the president should appoint a committee to prepare a pamphlet for distribution to the public with a short explanation of each amendment. The entire pamphlet was also to be published in newspapers—at least two in each county and of opposite political party affiliation—for five weeks preceding the election.201
The convention had proposed forty-two amendments to the state constitution. The Progressive delegates, led by Bigelow’s New Constitution League of Ohio, campaigned for passage. The Democratic state convention endorsed all of the amendments and organized labor pushed for ratification as well. Most of the urban newspapers, with the exception of a few conservative publications in Columbus and Cincinnati, gave the amendments favorable coverage.202 Formal opposition came from the Ohio State Board of Commerce, which had failed to achieve its tax reform and opposed the initiative and labor
amendments. The OSBC distributed tens of thousands of pamphlets attacking the convention’s work and urging voters, “[W]hen in doubt, vote no.”203
A handful of the amendments generated the most controversy, among them the initiative and referendum, liquor licensing, woman suffrage, and some of the labor amendments. The woman suffrage amendment was extensively debated, in part because of the suffragists’ efforts to generate support and in part because of vigorous opposition by the OSBC and the liquor interests. Local and national suffragists considered Ohio a crucial test for the extension of woman suffrage. Five other states had woman suffrage referenda scheduled after Ohio’s election, and suffragists hoped a positive outcome in Ohio would create momentum in those states. The OWSA established campaign centers in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Springfield, Canton, Dayton, Warren, and Youngstown. They organized 103 suffrage societies in 78 counties. The OSBC and the liquor interests, on the other hand, viewed women voters as potential temperance voters, warning Ohio’s male voters that a vote for woman suffrage was a vote to make Ohio dry.204
On September 3, 1912, Ohio’s male voters went to the polls. Urban voters favored almost all of the amendments. Voters in the northern part of the state, where Progressive mayors had been encouraging reform for years, supported the amendments more than those in the southern part of the state. Voters in seven rural counties voted against all of the amendments, voters in nine additional rural counties voted against all but the temperance amendment, and the urban vote made a difference in the passage of nineteen amendments that would have otherwise failed. Only eight of the forty-two amendments failed to pass, and the vote in each of those was relatively close.205
Herbert Bigelow was delighted with the outcome. The initiative and referendum, the passage of which he had been working for more than a decade, would now be a part of Ohio’s constitution. For the most part, organized labor was pleased. All of its amendments, with the exception of the anti-strike injunction provision, had passed. Women suffragists, on the other hand, were disappointed. Despite receiving the most favorable votes of any of the forty-two amendments, and the most cast ever in favor of woman suffrage in the nation, the woman suffrage amendment was defeated by a vote of 336,875 to 249,420.206
149 For a discussion of Progressive reform efforts in the decades preceding the 1912 convention, see WARNER, supra note 148, at 3-311.
150 OHIO CONST. of 1851, art. XII, § 2.
151 The 1903 vote was 326,622 in favor to 43,563 opposed, but the question needed 438,602 votes (more than one-half of the 877,203 votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election) in order to pass. The vote in 1908 was 339,747 in favor to 95,867 opposed, but the measure did not receive the 561,500 votes (more than one-half of the 1,123,198 votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election) required for passage. 2 GALBREATH, supra note 84, at 96.
152 FLORENCE ALLEN & MARY WELLES, THE OHIO WOMAN SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT: “A CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHT”: WHAT OHIO WOMEN DID TO SECURE IT 39-40 (1952).
153 Kathryn Mary Smith, The 1912 Constitutional Campaign and Women’s Suffrage in Columbus, Ohio 11-12 (1980) (unpublished master’s thesis, Ohio State University).
154 The state local-option law required a revote every three years. In 1911 the first round of these revotes occurred. Eighteen of the twenty-seven counties holding the elections reverted to “wet” status. Lloyd Sponholtz, The Politics of Temperance in Ohio, 1880-1912, 85 OHIO HIST. 5, 9, 15-18 (1976).
155 GALBREATH, supra note 84, at 94.
156 Frey, supra note 148, at 3; Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 22.
157 Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 23-36.
158 Smith, supra note 153, at 27-29.
159 PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF OHIO 1-2 (1912) [hereinafter DEBATES OF THE 1912 CONVENTION]; Frey, supra note 148, at 3-4; Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 6, 37-49.
160 Smith, supra note 153, at 28.
161 DEBATES OF THE 1912 CONVENTION, supra note 159, at 28-32; Frey, supra note 148, at
6-9, 13; Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 51-55.
162 DEBATES OF THE 1912 CONVENTION, supra note 159, at 116, 650-52.
163 id. at 672-74, 681-83, 687, 733, 921, 951, 942-45. See Frey, supra note 148, at 35-47; Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 143-51.
164 OHIO CONST. of 1851 (as amended), art. I, § 1a.
165 If the general assembly amended the original proposal, the proponents could force the original version onto the ballot by filing the supplementary petition. If both versions passed, the version receiving the highest affirmative vote became law. Id. art. II, § 1b.
166 Id. art. II, § 1c.
167Id. art. II, § 1g.
168 Id. art. II, § 1c. “A single tax” would tax the value of land to the exclusion of other property taxes. Some of the delegates at the convention, including Bigelow, were single taxers. They had been influenced by Henry George, a Nineteenth Century economist and philosopher, who started the single tax movement. In a best selling book, George theorized that taxing the full value of land would prevent a grossly unequal distribution of wealth and poverty. HENRY GEORGE, PROGRESS AND POVERTY (1879). Rural delegates at the convention strongly opposed the idea of a single tax system.
169 Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 143-51.
170 Id. at 151-56.
171 OHIO CONST. of 1851, art. II, § 26.
172 Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 157-60.
173 Id. at 156-69.
174 In 1903 Ohioans had given the governor a general veto power. The 1912 proposal gave him a line-item veto as well. Another proposed amendment limited the legislature, when called into special session by the governor, to consideration of only those issues specified in the governor’s call. WARNER, supra note 148, at 327. On the other hand, the 1912 convention reform reduced the margin needed to override a veto from two-thirds of the legislature to three-fifths of each house. 1 DEBATES OF THE 1912 CONVENTION, supra note 159, at 1496-97; Frey, supra note 148, at 59-60; Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 177-79. Civil Service reform passed with very little opposition. WARNER, supra note 148, at 326; 2 DEBATES OF THE 1912 CONVENTION, supra note 159, at 1380, 1793.
175 Frey, supra note 148, at 58; Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 190-92.
176 Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 191.
177 Id. at 192-93; 1 DEBATES OF THE 1912 CONVENTION, supra note 159, at 1025-80.
178 DEBATES OF THE 1912 CONVENTION, supra note 159, at 1833-34; Frey, supra note 148, at 58-59; Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 192-93.
179 Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 193-94.
180 Frey, supra note 148, at 53; Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 84, 93-95.
181 Frey, supra note 148, at 54; Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 95-97.
182 Frey, supra note 148, at 54-56; Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 96-97.
183 Frey, supra note 148, at 57, 72; Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 99-101.
184 Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 127-40.
185 Id. at 132.
186 This may have been a concession on the part of organized labor to rural delegates. Id. at 131.
187 Frey, supra note 148, at 62; Sponholtz, supra note 148, at 133-38. There were labor supporters in all of the sectors, and urban delegates voted strongly as a bloc. Democrats supported labor fairly consistently. Republicans had problems with the injunction amendment, and there was a rural/urban split on it.
188 Smith, supra note 153, at 27-29.
189 Id. at 30.
190 [Columbus] CITIZEN, Feb. 9, 1912.
191Id., Feb. 14 & 15, 1912.
192 DEBATES OF THE 1912 CONVENTION, supra note 159, at 600, 603, 612.
193 id. at 602, 616, 623.
194 id. at 612, 618.
195 id. at 607.
196 id. at 626-29.
197 The third reading passed seventy-four to thirty-seven, and final passage came on May 31 with a vote of sixty-three to twenty-five.
198 The liquor interests had attempted to have the suffrage proposition set off with the liquor license provision and away from the other propositions, believing that this would aid in the defeat of the suffrage amendment, but the delegates at the Constitutional Convention supported the position advocated by the suffragists.
199 OHIO CONST. of 1851, art. XV, § 9; see also OHIO CONST. of 1851, sched., § 18.
200 This last requirement was intended to prevent a brewer or distiller from owning the saloon. Brewers owned an estimated seventy percent of the saloons in the United States. Frey, supra note 148, at 23-24; Sponholtz, supra note 154, at 20-24.
201 DEBATES OF THE 1912 CONVENTION, supra note 159, at 1923, 1981-84, 1998, 1999- 2011; WARNER, supra note 148, at 338.
202 WARNER, supra note 148, at 339. The Republican newspapers were the Columbus Dispatch and the Cincinnati Enquirer and Times-Star.
203 Id. at 340.
204 Smith, supra note 153, at 43, 53.
205 The amendments that failed to pass included elimination of the word “white,” the use of voting machines, the anti-strike injunction, woman suffrage and a separate amendment permitting women to hold certain offices, a ban on capital punishment, bonds for “good roads,” and restrictions on billboard advertising. WARNER, supra note 148, at 342.
206 Id. at 341.
Article from the Ohio Historical Journal about Ohio’s Constitutional Convention of 1912 which helped to promote:
“..municipal home rule, direct primaries, the initiative and referendum,
equal suffrage, improvements in the court system and procedures,
and legal protection of workers.”
From the Ohio Historical Society Journal
Terrific Ohio Constitution Website from Cleveland-Marshall Law School.