“The Impact of State Budget Cuts on Northeast Ohio Communities” a forum on March 21, 2017

“The Impact of State Budget Cuts on Northeast Ohio Communities”
a forum moderated by Brent Larkin, Cleveland.com
Cleveland.com preview piece on forum with background links
Cleveland.com coverage of forum
Video from forum

Tuesday March 21, 2017   7-8:30 p.m.
Cost: Free & Open to the Public
Parma Snow Branch, Cuyahoga County Public Library
2121 Snow Road, Parma 44134

RSVP here   Event flyer is here
Timothy J. DeGeeter, Mayor, City of Parma
Sharon Dumas, Director of Finance, City of Cleveland
Rich Exner, Data Analysis Editor, Cleveland.com

Moderator: Brent Larkin, Cleveland.com

Brent Larkin

Co-sponsored by the Case Western Reserve University Siegal Lifelong Learning Program, League of Women Voters-Greater Cleveland, Cleveland.com, Plain Dealer and Cuyahoga County Library Systems

Corporate sponsor: First Interstate Properties, Ltd. 

For more information, email: teachingcleveland@earthlink.net

The Best of Teaching Cleveland

Teaching Cleveland Stories

Tom L. Johnson, America’s Best Mayor video

“Cleveland: The City on the Hill 1901-1909” by Hoyt Landon Warner*****

Cleveland in the 1960s by Mike Roberts

Rockefeller in Cleveland by George Condon*

Confession of a Reformer by Frederick Howe (Tom Johnson chapter)**

Regional Government vs Home Rule by Joe Frolik

Cleveland: Economics, Images and Expectations by Dr. John J. Grabowski

Survival – Man and Boy. A story about Lorrenzo Carter from “The Cuyahoga” by William Donohue Ellis*

Making of a Mayor – The Election of Carl Stokes***

Mark Hanna Vs. Tom Johnson by George Condon*

Water by Brent Larkin

Success By Design: The Schreckengost Legacy (video)

Biography of Newton D. Baker by Prof. C. H. Cramer****

African-American Heritage Trail in Cleveland***

Cleveland’s Johnson: The Cabinet by Eugene C. Murdock*****

The Ohio Canal Movement by Harry N. Scheiber*****

The Power Brokers – Glory Days of the Political Bosses by Brent Larkin***

*from Cleveland Memory/CSU Special Collections

**from Kent State Press

***from the Plain Dealer

****from Archive.org

*****from the Ohio Historical Society

*****Ohio State University Press

12 Most Significant Events in Cleveland History

12 Most Significant Events in
Cleveland History

by Joe Frolik

Any list of the 12 top events in Cleveland history is obviously a series of judgments calls that probably reveals more about the person doing the compiling than it does the city. Certainly as I ran down some of the milestones I was considering, my wife’s reaction was immediate and, as usual, probably correct: “Money and politics, money and politics. Is that all you think about?”

I don’t think so, but then again as an editorial writer for Ohio’s largest newspaper, I do spend a lot of my time trying to figure out how Greater Cleveland became the place – politically, economically and socially – that it is today. And much of that evolution involves the interplay of powerful economic, demographic and political forces. Sowith that caveat about the blinders I bring to the task at hand, here is one person’s list of the events that did the most to shape Cleveland’s history, for good and ill.

— Joe Frolik

1) The last Ice Age ends roughly 10,000 years ago, and the retreating Laurentide glacial sheet leaves behind massive basins and plenty of meltwater to fill them: Today we call this gift of nature the Great Lakes. The world’s largest concentration of freshwater made possible both Cleveland’s settlement (Moses Cleaveland) and his party from Connecticut Land Co. sailed east from Buffalo and the mouth of the Cuyahoga River) and its economic boom (without easy access to iron ore from the far end of Lake Superior and waterways to ship out the finished product cheaply, there’s no steel business here). Perhaps the greatest guarantor for Greater Cleveland’s future remains this incredible and increasingly valuable liquid asset.

2) In 1850, Henry Chisholm, a 28-year-old immigrant carpenter and contractor from Scotland arrives in Cleveland to help build a breakwall on the lakefront. Seven years and several major construction projects later, he enters Cleveland’s fledgling iron and steel business by becoming a partner in a plant that re-rolls worn out iron rails. In 1859, Chisholm builds the first blast furnace in Northeast Ohio and in 1868, the first Bessemer converters west of the Alleghenies. His Cleveland Rolling Mill Co. becomes a major integrated producer of iron and steel products and by the 1890s has more than 8,000 employees. Cleveland by then is a major center for making steel and the finished products that use it. It is a transportation center for the ships and railroads that bring in raw materials and take out finished goods. All that also makes it a magnet for tens of thousands of immigrants like Chisholm eager to make their fortune in the New World.

3) Charles Brush is barely 30 years old on April 29, 1879, when he quite literally lights up the town (sorry, LeBron): At 7:55 p.m., Public Square is illuminated by a dozen of the Euclid native’s newly refined arc lights, all mounted on poles significantly higher than traditional gas street lamps and powered by a Brush-patented generator in a building just off the square. Brush’s latest invention proves a sensation: within two years, Brush street lights are in use from Boston to San Francisco. In 1891, his Brush Electric Co. becomes a building block of the new General Electric Co. Brush is not alone in his ability to turn good ideas into useful products. A 1900 Census report ranks Cleveland fifth among U.S. cities in “important patents’’ awarded between 1870 and 1890. This fuels a highly innovative, entrepreneurial – and fast-growing— industrial economy.

4) On April 1, 1901, Cleveland voters elect a new mayor: Tom L. Johnson, the “Great American Paradox,’’ as the New York Times called him, a wealthy businessman who talks like a labor agitator. Over the next eight years, Johnson makes Cleveland a laboratory for Progressive Era civic invention and arguably the best-run city in America. He builds playgrounds, parks and grand public buildings, makes public health the city’s business and holds public meetings in huge circus tents so average citizens can observe and join the deliberations of government. But Johnson’s successes – and those of Newton D. Baker, his like-minded and exceptionally talented protégé who served as mayor from 1911 to 1916 – have one downside: They inspire many communities surrounding Cleveland to embrace the “home rule’’ he and Baker advocate, eventually limiting the city’s potential growth and leading to generations of political Balkanization in Cuyahoga County.

5) In 1917 and 1918, amid the carnage of World War I France field hospitals, four accomplished doctors from Cleveland – Frank E. Bunts, George W. Crile, William E. Lower and John Phillips – begin making plans for a new hospital they will start when they got home, one based on the cooperation across specialty lines that seems to work well in the military. In 1921, they dedicate the first Cleveland Clinic building on Euclid Avenue and East 93rd Street. From the beginning, they set aside part of their revenues and raise additional funds solely for medical research. The result, nine decades later, is not only one of the most highly regarded research hospitals in the world, but the contemporary city’s most important economic engine. With some 40,000 people on its $2 billion annual payroll, the Clinic is far and away Cleveland’s largest employer.

6) On Dec. 11, 1918, the Cleveland Orchestra, under the direction of Russian-born, Yale-educated Nikolai Sokoloff, plays its first concert at Grays Armory on Bolivar Avenue downtown. The 50-plus member ensemble is the brainchild of local impresario Adella Prentiss Hughes, who in 1915 organized the Musical Arts Association and began exhorting the city’s wealthy elites to create a world-class orchestra as a symbol of Cleveland’s rising status. By 1922, Sokoloff and the orchestra are playing Carnegie Hall and establishing a global reputation for themselves and the city they represent. Thanks to a generous gift from industrialist John L. Severance — a memorial to late wife Elizabeth – the orchestra in 1931 gains a permanent and spectacular home in University Circle, an anchor for one of the nation’s premier cultural districts.

7) Cleveland voters go to the polls in a special referendum on Jan. 9, 1919, and agree to a major modification of Daniel Burnham’s Group Plan for downtown. The referendum is orchestrated by the reclusive Van Sweringen brothers, real estate developers Oris and Mantis, who want to include a new central railroad station as part of a massive office complex (Terminal Tower) that they hope to build off Public Square. Burnham’s plan put the depot on the lakefront just below City Hall and Mall C – and voters had ratified it just three years earlier. But the Vans – who want the terminal also to serve as the end point of their Shaker Rapid — mount a massive, modern campaign with heavy use of advertising and carry the day. Terminal Tower becomes a Cleveland icon, but moving the station also turns the city’s back on the lakefront. It will be decades before Cleveland begins to rethink its decision to squander an asset other cities regard as priceless.

8) African Americans, just a generation removed from slavery, begin to move north around 1910, following word that industrial jobs are available. This first Great Migration accelerates when World War I creates a labor shortage and continues until the Depression. Cleveland’s black population, estimated by the Census Bureau at 4,010 in 1900 grows to 70,755 by 1930 with more than half of them arriving during the Roaring ‘20s. Among that decades’ newcomers are Georgians Charles Stokes and Louise Stone. They marry here and by the time Charles, a laundry worker, dies in 1928 have two young sons: Louis and Carl. The Stokes brothers grow up in public housing, go on to law school and as blacks continue to pour into the city – the second wave of the Great Migration includes rabble-rousing Marine veteran from Memphis named George L. Forbes –build a political organization that challenges both white business establishment and the Democratic Party. In 1967, Carl becomes the first black mayor of a major northern city. A year later, Louis becomes Ohio’s black member of Congress.

9) On November 1, 1952, chemicals and other debris floating on Cuyahoga River catch fire and do roughly $1.5 million worth of damage. But the event draws little attention – let alone outrage. There’d been occasional fires on the river since 1868 and as far back as 1881, Mayor Rensselaer R. Herrick had called the Cuyahoga a “sewer that runs through the heart of the city.’’ But in those days, pollution was seen as little more than an unfortunate byproduct of industrial prowess. A very different story unfolds on June 22, 1969, when the Cuyahoga again blazes. Although damage this time is barely $85,000, an angry Mayor Carl Stokes leads a delegation of reporters to the banks of the Cuyahoga the following day and demands help from Washington to clean up the mess. His timing was perfect. With a Time magazine team already in town working on a cover story about pollution’s toll on Lake Erie, this fire becomes a rallying point the nascent environmental movement and leads to passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

10) After 140 years of uninterrupted growth, Cleveland’s white population begins to decline in the 1940s, in part because white GI’s can get low-cost federal home loans to move to the suburbs, while black veterans cannot. “White flight’’ continues into the 1960s, accelerating after two major riots –Hough in 1966 and Glenville in 1969. But the last straw for many whites comes on Aug. 31, 1976, when U.S. District Judge Frank J. Battisti signs a 203-page decision that, among other remedies, orders cross-town busing to end racial segregation. However well-meaning Battititi’s decision may have been – other northern districts had been hit with busing orders before Cleveland – the impact here is devastating.. White flight morphs into middle-class flight. In the 1970s, Cleveland’s black population falls, too, with an exodus of 30,000 people, many to suburbs perceived to have better schools. Battisti’s order remains in effect until the 1990s, when the city’s second black mayor, Michael R. White, leads the charge to end it.

11) On Dec. 15, 1978, a year-long battle between Cleveland’s populist “boy mayor,’’ Dennis Kucinich, and a combative business community, led in this case by Cleveland Trust CEO Brock Weir, comes to a head. A consortium of six local banks calls in $14 million in loans, knowing Kucinich cannot come up with the cash because he refuses to sell Cleveland Public Power as they recommend. Cleveland, its finances held together for nearly a decade by chewing gum, baling wire and accounting tricks, becomes the first U.S. city since the Depression to default. The debacle leads to Kucinich’s defeat in 1979 and effectively ices his political ambitions for another 15 years. But default also forces the business community to rethink its relationship with the city. Under Kucinich’s successor, George V. Voinovich, City Hall and the newly engaged corporate sector form a celebrated public-private partnership that produces several major downtown projects and helps burnish Cleveland’s national image as a “comeback city.’’

12) For decades, good-government groups warned that Cuyahoga County government was a relic of agrarian times with power so diffuse that no one could be held accountable for anything. Not even a poorly supervised investment fiasco in 1994 could prompt more than a study of government reform – that was shelved as soon as public angry subsided. All that changes on July 28, 2008, when nearly 200 federal agents descend on the County Administration Building, the homes of the county’s two most powerful Democratic politicians and the offices of numerous county contractors. They fill U-Haul trucks with documents and computers. After a year of stony silence from federal prosecutors, the indictments begin to flow. On Nov. 2, 2009, appalled voters overwhelming fire the entire county government and concentrate responsibility in a powerful new county executive.

The 10 Greatest Clevelanders Since 1796

This article ran in the Plain Dealer during the Cleveland Bicentennial Year celebration. If you disagree with elements of the list or wish to offer additions, please email us at teachingcleveland@earthlink.net and we can start the discussion.

Courtesy of The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH) – Sunday, July 21, 1996

To borrow from Shakespeare, some are born with greatness. Others achieve it. Some have it thrust upon them.
Greatness is highly subjective. It’s elusive to define and difficult to measure.

And it also can go unnoticed. Imagine how many tens of thousands who have been a part of this area’s rich past, the deeds of their ordinary lives combining to build a great city. They and their memories are as much a part of this Cleveland’s bicentennial celebration as are the leaders who occupy our history books.

But today, on the eve of the city’s 200th birthday, I have set about the difficult task of attempting to determine and rank the 10 greatest Clevelanders – those whose deeds have had the greatest impact on this city and, in some cases, the nation.

The list that appears below is mine alone. But it was compiled after consultations with some of the foremost experts on Cleveland history: John J. Grabowski, director of planning and research at the Western Reserve Historical Society; David D. Van Tassel, professor of history at Case Western Reserve University; Thomas F. Campbell, history professor at Cleveland State University; and George Condon, retired Plain Dealer columnist and the author of several books on Cleveland’s history.

Singling out only 10 Clevelanders (actually, three of the top 10 include, for reasons that will be obvious, two names) for greatness guarantees that many historic figures be excluded, which is a major reason why the list is followed by an honorable-mention section. Ranking them in order is an invitation to second-guessing.

Nevertheless, what follows is one person’s listing of the 10 greatest Clevelanders.

1. Tom L. Johnson (1854-1911): The mayor against whom all others are measured. Elected in 1901, Johnson left a legacy that includes the mall plan, cheap trolley fares, low taxes and, probably above all, the municipal electric system. Johnson was the central figure in planning the city’s development as an industrial power. A successful businessman, he used town hall forums to bring immigrant masses into the political mainstream by instilling in them hope and inspiration. Upon his death, 200,000 people lined Euclid Ave. for the funeral procession.

2. John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937): His family moved from a farm in upstate New York to Strongsville when he was a teenager. After high school, he took a job as an assistant bookkeeper. At 24, he decided to enter the oil business.

So was born the Standard Oil Co., which made Rockefeller one of the world’s richest and most powerful men. This industrialist and philanthropist gave away millions. He built buildings and bought parks here. Criticized by some for moving to New York City in the 1880s, Rockefeller continued to spend summers at his Forest Hills Park estate.

3. Alfred Kelley (1789-1859): Not nearly as well-known as some of the more legendary Clevelanders, in 1915, Kelley became the first president of the village of Cleveland. Back then, Cleveland wasn’t much bigger than any of the other surrounding lakefront cities, like Lorain, Vermilion, Painesville, and others. But Kelley was a man with a dream – a canal that would link Cleveland with the Ohio River and make his city a major industrial port. As a member of the legislature in the 1820s, Kelley dedicated his life to making the Ohio & Erie Canal a reality. When the canal opened in 1827, it secured Cleveland’s place as Ohio’s dominant lakefront city.

4. O.P (1879-1936) and M.J (1881-1935) Van Sweringen: They developed Shaker Heights and Shaker Square, and when they envisioned a rapid-transit system linking the suburb to downtown, a railroad line stood in their way. So, the brothers bought the Nickel Plate Railroad and eventually accumulated a railroad empire consisting of 30,000 miles of tracks valued at $3 billion. Their monument to Cleveland remains today as the city’s most symbolic building – the Terminal Tower. The 1929 stock market crash almost bankrupted them and they died several years later.

5. Marcus Hanna (1837-1904): He was the nation’s first political boss, a cunning and brilliant political strategist universally credited with engineering the election of William McKinley as president in 1896. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1898, Hanna became a major advocate of an idea many scoffed at – building a canal across Panama. In Cleveland, Hanna was both a wildly successful businessman and the town’s most dominant political figure. His biggest setback in politics was the election as mayor of his longtime enemy, Tom L. Johnson.

6. Newton D. Baker (1871-1937): A protege of Tom L. Johnson, Baker made his mark as mayor of Cleveland from 1912 to 1916. He was responsible for enactment of the City Charter and for promoting passage of the Home Rule amendment to the Ohio Constitution. He made his mark upon the world a few years later. With the nation’s future threatened from abroad, President Woodrow Wilson needed someone to build and train a force of 2 million men to fight the first world war. The choice of Baker as Secretary of War proved outstanding, as Baker was widely credited with succeeding in the most difficult of tasks. Shortly after the war, Baker returned to the Cleveland law firm that still bears his name.

7. Flora Stone Mather (1852-1909) and Samuel Mather (1851-1931): The Mathers were both born into wealth, and through the formation of the iron-ore company Pikands, Mather & Co., saw their separately inherited fortunes grow to the point where they became Ohio’s richest couple. What set them apart from so many other affluent husband-and-wife teams was the vast sums they donated to worthy charities. Major beneficiaries of the Mather fortune were Old Stone Church, Western Reserve University, University Hospitals, John Carroll University and the Community Chest.

8. George Crile (1864-1943): In 1906, while practicing at St. Alexis Hospital, this surgeon and medical researcher performed the world’s first successful blood transfusion. In the Spanish-American War and World War I, he was a highly decorated war surgeon. But Crile’s major contribution to Cleveland came in 1921 when he joined with three others to form the Cleveland Clinic, which, along with the other first-rate hospitals that already existed, cemented Cleveland’s place as a world-class medical center.

9. Adella Prentiss Hughes (1869-1950): Music was her life and through her efforts she put the music made in Cleveland on the map. A philanthropist and the promotor of scores of musical presentations, Hughes formed the Musical Arts Association in 1915 to fund and promote her projects. Three years later, she was the instrumental figure in the creation of the Cleveland Orchestra.

10. Edward Morley (1838-1923) and Albert Michelson (1852-1931): Morley was a scientist at Western Reserve University, Michelson a physicist at the Case School of Applied Science. Their research on the speed of light, known as the Michelson-Morley experiment (1887), laid the foundation for Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. Michelson became the first American to win a Nobel Prize in science. He finished second in the Nobel Prize balloting for chemistry.

Honorable mentions (alphabetically):

Paul Brown (1909-1991): A football genius and innovator who built one of the greatest franchises in the history of professional sports. So deep runs the loyalty Clevelanders have for the Browns that not even Art Modell could dry up this reservoir of affection.

Charles F. Brush (1849-1929): Developer of the arc light, the forerunner of Thomas Edison’s inventions.

Lorenzo Carter (1767-1814): Cleveland’s first permanent settler and easily its most prominent early citizen.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881): Because he lived in and spent so much time in Mentor, not all historians consider him a Clevelander, which explains why he was not placed in the top 10. Nevertheless, the 20th president of the United States did have some Cleveland connections.

Jane Edna Hunter (1882-1971): Daughter of a sharecropper, Hunter was a nationally known social worker and founder of the Phillis Wheatley Association.

Levi Johnson (1785-1871): A major figure in the growth of Cleveland as a large port, Johnson was a shipbuilder and real estate developer.

Garrett A. Morgan (1877-1963): Credited as the inventor of the gas mask and the traffic light, Morgan was a successful businessman and an early leader in the city’s black community.

Carl B. Stokes (1927-1996): The first black elected mayor of a major American city.

More Great Clevelanders
Florence Allen (1884-1966): Prominent suffragette; first female Chief Judge of a federal court.

Ernest Bohn (1901-1975): The father of U.S. public housing.

Linda Eastman (1867-1963): The first female head of a major library system (1918). She helped make the Cleveland Public Library into one of the nation’s best.

George Forbes (1931- ): One of the most powerful politicians in Cleveland history; as council president, he dominated government under three mayors.

Dorothy Fuldheim (1893-1989): The first female news anchorperson in the United States at WEWS.

Frederick H. Goff (1858-1923): Helped to establish the Cleveland Foundation, the oldest and one of the largest community foundations in America

Max Hayes (1866-1945): Union printer; launched the Cleveland Citizen newspaper in 1891; became a national voice of labor and socialist movements.

Martin A. Marks (1853-1916): Businessman; Developed models for philanthropic fund raising and management that ultimately became the United Way of Cleveland

Bishop Louis Amadeus Rappe (1801-1877): Cleveland’s first Catholic bishop; recruited priests and nuns from Europe and built churches, schools, orphanages and hospitals.

Bishop Joseph Schrembs (1866-1945): Cleveland’s fifth Catholic bishop; expanded charity work; used radio to evangelize.

Amasa Stone (1818-1883): Contentious man who built the first major railroad between Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. He was ruined when a bridge that he built collapsed in Ashtabula. His money helped to move Western Reserve College to University Circle from Hudson. His daughters (particularly Flora) and sons in laws, (John Hay and Samuel Mather) all had highly successful careers.

George Szell (1897-1970): In 34 years as musical director, this stern taskmaster from Vienna cemented the Cleveland Orchestra’s international reputation.

George V. Voinovich (1936- ): Mayor after 1978 default; improved city’s fiscal footing, Went on to become Governor of Ohio and US Senator. A power locally and nationally for over 30 years.

William O. Walker (1986-1981): Editor and publisher of the Call and Post; central figure in the rise of black political power here.

Cyrus Eaton (1883-1979): Highly controversial capitalist who mentored with John D. Rockefeller in Cleveland and then made his mark in the utility and steel industries. He lost it all during the depression, made it back post-depression and then worked on detente with the Soviet Union during the cold war.

William Stinchcomb (1878-1959): Father of the Cleveland Metroparks, today’s Emerald Necklace and one of the nations best free public park systems in a metropolitan area.

Abba Hillel Silver (1893-1963): Influential Jewish and civic leader in Northeast Ohio for nearly 50 years. Worldwide leader in the 1940s in the effort to create the State of Israel

What’s New on Teaching Cleveland Digital


Local Public Policy Issue Forums 2015-2017 (Video)

A brief history of the Ohio income tax by Michael F. Curtin 2/15/2017

The Best of 2016

“Voter Registration in Ohio” by Michael Curtin

Two “Northeast Ohio Regionalism” Forums:
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Regionalism on the Eastside 8.18.2016 (video)

“Water Quality of Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River” a panel moderated by Jim McCarty 9.15.16 (video)

“Redistricting and Voting Rights in Ohio” a panel moderated by Thomas Suddes 8.25.2016 (video)

Her Father’s Daughter: Flora Stone Mather and Her Gifts to Cleveland by Dr. Marian Morton

“The Paradox of Progress in Tremont, Ohio” by Dawn Ellis

“The Western Reserve’s Self-Made President” by Grant Segall

Video From the Regionalism Forum with County Executive Armond Budish, Regional Coordinator Eddy Kraus and Moderator Tom Beres (6.17.15)

“The President From Canton” by Grant Segall

“Gerrymandering. The Art of Fixing Elections” by Michael F. Curtin

Video From The Newton D. Baker Symposium (April 19, 2015)

Remarks By Thomas F. Campbell @ Newton D. Baker’s Induction Into The City Club’s Hall of Fame (5.18.87)

A Rebel With A Cause: Norm Krumholz and “Equity Planning” in Cleveland by Robert Brown

“Drawing the Line on Politics” – Political Cartoons in Cleveland History” written by John Vacha; web design by Alan Luntz

Residual Neighbors: Jewish-African American Interactions in Cleveland From 1900-1970 by John Baden
Part 1: “Getting By Together 1900-1938”

Part 2: “Neighbors Then Strangers Postwar-1970”

“Why Political Debates Matter” by Michael F. Curtain

“The Scourge of Corrupt and Inefficient Politicians: The Citizens League of Great Cleveland” by Marian Morton

Interview With Louis Stokes, Former U.S. Congressman 1969-1999 (Video)

“How Reform is Changing Healthcare in Northeast Ohio: a Panel Discussion” (Video)

“The Civic Awakening of Beachwood” by Mark Naymik

Interview With Senator George Voinovich, Cleveland Mayor From 1980 – 1989 (Video)

“A Time of Transition and Challenge: The Gilded Age in Cleveland” by Dr. John J. Grabowski

Interview With George L. Forbes, Cleveland City Council President From 1973 – 1989 (Video)

Newton D. Baker: Cleveland’s Greatest Mayor by Thomas Suddes

They Also Ran: The Women Who Would Be Mayor, 1961 to 1997″ By Dr. Marian Morton

“The Election That Changed Cleveland Forever” by Michael D. Roberts

Mayor Michael R. White Interview – Cleveland Mayor From 1990 – 2002 (video)

“The Best Barber in America” by John Vacha

“Cleveland: City on a Schedule” Remarkable Documentary Made in 1957 and Hosted at Cleveland Memory (video)

“Annexation and Mayor Sensenbrenner: How Columbus Grew to be the Largest City in Ohio” by Alexander Tebben

“The History of Term Limits in Ohio” By Michael F. Curtin

Some of the Best of 2016

Joe Posnanski story on Cleveland Cavs and LeBron James 6.20.16 (NBC)

Some of the Best of 2016: Long Form Essays of Note (plus other content)

Drowning in Dysfunction: How the Cleveland Water Department is Failing its Community, Violating Rights (WEWS-TV5) 12/22/2016

Returning to Ohio How a small, Midwestern town has changed over the decades—and where it aims to go (Atlantic) 12/12/16

Tower Struggle. What Does Sale of Iconic Building Mean for Cleveland? 11.1.16 (Cleveland Magazine)

Silent Sanctuaries: In Pittsburgh, These Houses of God Stand Mute, Often Crumbling 10.31.16 (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Can’t You Hear the 1948 Whistle Blowin’ 10.27.16 (New York Times)

Cleveland Indians in 1948: A Story of Integration 10.24.16 (New York Times)

“Heart of Steel” Series from Plain Dealer About Steel Industry in Cleveland 10.16.16 (Plain Dealer)

Confessions of a Rust Belt Orphan (or how I learned to stop worrying and love Akron) by Jason Segedy 10.12.16 (Cleveland Scene)

Collinwood 1908: Bringing a Fire Back into History 10.6.16 (Belt)

“Voter Registration in Ohio” a Short History by Michael Curtin 9.25.16

“Louis Stokes Autobiography “The Gentleman from Ohio” Part 1 is here (Cleveland.com) 8.29.16

“Louis Stokes Autobiography “The Gentleman from Ohio” Part 2 is here (Cleveland.com) 8.30.16

Cleveland Metro Economic Performance is Mixed, According Cleveland Federal Reserve 8.25.16

Great Lakes Exposition: A World’s Fair to Remember Opened 80 Years Ago This summer: photos 7.28.16 (Cleveland.com)

In Cleveland’s Public Square, Rights are Exercised. Loudly 7.26.16 (New York Times)

The Challenge of Keeping Black Families From Leaving the Midwest 7.5.16 (Atlantic)

“Titles and Tears” an essay by Joe Posnanski 6.20.16 (NBC)

Go Hug a Tree. You Just Might Live Longer. Once Upon a Time, Cleveland was the Forest City. -Tim Kovach 4.30.16

Greater Cleveland Employment Trends: 2014 and 2015 -March 2016 (Cleveland State University)

“Viktor Schreckengost-The Exchange of Art with the Everyday” – winner of the 2016 Teaching Cleveland website award at History Day 3.5.16

New Images Reveal True Impact of Freeways on Cleveland’s Neighborhoods by Tim Kovach 2/25/16 FreshWater

Is Waterfront Development Paying Off? Nine Takeaways From LWV Forum: Steven Litt 2.15.16 (Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com)

How Local Media Coverage is Forcing Cleveland to Finally Fix Its Lead Problem 2.9.16 (Columbia Journalism Review)

Correcting For Bias: Mansfield Frazier 1.2.16 (Cool Cleveland)

Regionalism in Northeast Ohio-Material on the Subject from the past 10+ Years

Here’s another list of the “Best of 2016” from the Cleveland Scene

About Us

Welcome to the Teaching Cleveland Digital Library, an open source, totally free searchable knowledge base of Cleveland/Northeast Ohio history and public policy for teachers, students. . .anybody. It consists of material from journalists, academics, historians, students and others.

Links can change, so please let us know if a link, file or page fails to open. Thanks.
Article about teachingcleveland.org and Teaching Cleveland history
Email: teachingcleveland@earthlink.net

Also thanks to our partners in this effort:
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland Jewish News
Cleveland State University
John Carroll University
Maltz Museum
Ohio Historical Society
Western Reserve Historical Society
And our writers:
Margaret Bernstein
Roldo Bartimole
Michael Curtain
Mansfield Frazier
Joe Frolik
Dr. John J. Grabowski
Brent Larkin
Steven Litt
Bill Lubinger
Randell McShepard
Jay Miller
Dr. Marian Morton
Michael Roberts
Chris Seper
Debbi Snook
Diane Solov
Tom Suddes
Elizabeth Sullivan
Alexander Tebbens
James Toman
John Vacha

Teaching Cleveland Digital is dedicated to Newton D. Baker and his concept of Civitism:
In his four-year tenure from 1912 to 1916 Newton D. Baker fostered Tom L. Johnson’s ideal of a Utopia of Civic Righteousness. He coined a new word to designate his policy; it was “civitism,” once described as a combination of “Home Rule and the Golden Rule for Cleveland.”

Baker believed that the greatness of a city did not depend on its buildings, either public or private, but rather on the intensity with which its citizens loved the city as their home. Such a pervasive feeling would inevitably produce beautiful parks,cleaner streets, honest government, and widespread adherence to justice as the ideal of its social and economic life.

It was his firm intention to make “civitism” mean the same thing for the city that patriotism signified for the nation.
(From CH Cramer’s Biography of Newton D. Baker)


Creative Commons License
Teaching Cleveland Digital Media by www.teachingcleveland.org is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Mayor Michael R. White Interview, Parts One – Five (video)

white-celebrates-gateway  mike-white-1989

Part One Link is Here

Part Two Link is Here

Part Three Link is here

Part Four Link is here

Part Five Link is here

Michael R. White was Mayor of Cleveland from 1990-2002. He was interviewed for Teaching Cleveland Digital on July 24, 2013. Cameras by Jerry Mann and Meagan Lawton, Edited by Jerry Mann, Interviewed by Michael Baron. © 2013 Jerry Mann and Teaching Cleveland Digital.

Part one covers Mayor White’s formative years in the Cleveland neighborhood of Glenville, living in Cleveland during the election of Carl Stokes in 1967 and White’s election as the first African-American Student Union President at The Ohio State University in 1973.

Part two covers his work with Columbus Republican Mayor Tom Moody, his return to Cleveland, working with and learning from Council President George Forbes and his election to Cleveland City Council.

Part three covers the 1980’s in Cleveland when Mayor George Voinovich and Council President George Forbes were in power. White then speaks about being elected Mayor of Cleveland, and his first challenge as Mayor: the baseball team wants a new ballpark, so White spearheads the Gateway development.

From Wikipedia:

White, who grew up in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, began his political career early on during his college years at Ohio State University, when he protested against the discriminatory policies of the Columbus public bus system and was subsequently arrested. White then ran the following year for Student Union President and won, becoming the college’s first black student body leader. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1973 and a Master of Public Administration degree in 1974.

After college, White returned to Cleveland. He served on Cleveland City Council as an administrative assistant from 1976 to 1977 and later served as city councilman from the Glenville area from 1978 to 1984. During his time in city council, White became a prominent protégé of councilman George L. Forbes. White then represented the area’s 21st District in the Ohio Senate, serving as a Democratic assistant minority whip.

In 1989, White entered the heavily-contested race for mayor of Cleveland, along with several other notable candidates including Forbes, Ralph J. Perk Jr. (the son of former Cleveland mayor, Ralph J. Perk), Benny Bonanno (Clerk of the Cleveland Municipal Court), and Tim Hagan (Cuyahoga County commissioner). Out of all the candidates Forbes and White made it to the general election. It was the first time two Black candidates would emerge as the number one and two contenders in a primary election in Cleveland history.

In Cleveland, incumbent Mike White won re-election against council president George Forbes, who ran as the candidate of black power and the public sector unions. Angering the unions by eliminating some of the city’s exotic work rules, White presented himself as pro-business, pro-police and an effective manager above all, arguing that “jobs were the cure for the ‘addiction to the mailbox,'” referring to welfare checks. [1]

White ended up winning the race receiving 81 percent of the vote in predominantly white wards and 30 percent in the predominantly black wards.



News Aggregator Archives 2017

News Aggregator Archives 2017

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Detroit’s big city lifestyle attracts young suburbanites (2/12/2017) Detroit Free Press

Cuyahoga County demolition fund puts dent in housing-market distress (2/12/2017) Plain Dealer

Ohio EPA releases plan for curbing nutrient pollution in Lake Erie (2/9/2017) Sandusky Register

Ohio 45th of 50 states in college affordability: study (2/9/2017) Dayton Daily News

Port hires design team to envision transformation of Irishtown Bend (2/9/2017) Cleveland.com

Push underway for automatic voter registration in Ohio (2/9/17) Dayton Daily News

Ohio hopes to “streamline” student testing, says State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria (2/8/2017) Cleveland.com

Akron wants to grow from 198,000 residents to 250,000 by 2050: Here’s how (2/6/2017) Cleveland.com

Cleveland’s Public Square debate enters the national spotlight (2/4/2017) Plain Dealer

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s three terms in office (analysis) (2/4/2017) Cleveland.com

Cleveland, other local governments could get less state money under Gov. John Kasich’s budget (2/2/2017) Cleveland.com

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson to seek unprecedented fourth 4-year term (2/1/2017) Cleveland.com

2018 Ohio U.S. Senate candidates gearing up for another expensive race (2/1/2017) Cleveland.com

Ohio could ban schools from expelling youngest students (1/31/2017) Dayton Daily News

Gov. John Kasich Releases Budget; Includes Sales Tax Increase (1/30/2017) Cleveland.com

Ohio may change the way congressional lines are drawn (1/29/2017) Springfield News Sun

Ohio tax cuts have starved schools, libraries, drug treatment, critics say (1/29/2017) Columbus Dispatch

Nursing in Northeast Ohio is in critical condition (1/28/2017) Crain’s Cleveland Business

Small Ohio cities continue to struggle (1/27/2017) Zanesville Times Recorder

Ohio hospitals, Medicaid providers concerned about Trump administration’s block grant plans (1/26/2017) Cleveland.com

U.S., Canada slow to tackle Great Lakes chemical pollution, says report (1/26/17) Michigan Live

The future of school funding (1/25/2017) Columbus Underground

Jobs doubled along Euclid Avenue after completion of HealthLine: CSU study (1/24/2017) Plain Dealer

Children Services Agencies Say Kids, Social Workers Are Suffering In Opioid Epidemic (1/23/2017) WOSU

Women’s March on Cleveland draws large, passionate crowd (1/21/2017) Cleveland.com

What local changes will a Trump administration bring? (1/21/17) Channel 19 News

Ohio economy ends ’16 on upswing (1/20/2017) Toledo Blade

Why aren’t more non-Browns events held at FirstEnergy Stadium?(1/19/2017) Cleveland.com

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture aims to improve equity in access to the arts  (1/19/2017) Plain Dealer

Lake Erie quality deteriorating, needs Canadian and American mandatory standards, report says (1/18/2017) London Ont Free Press

Ohio schools ranked exactly average nationally (1/17/2017) Dayton Daily News

Cleveland’s major hospitals warn of harm from Obamacare repeal (1/15/2017) Cleveland.com

How Ohio is adjusting the Common Core for Ohio classrooms (1/13/2017) Cleveland.com

Cleveland’s among a group of cities outperforming their outlying suburban areas in attracting ‘educated millennials’ (1/13/2017) Crain’s Cleveland Business

In a changing Pittsburgh, some fear the hidden costs of progress (1/12/2017) Penn Live

‘Appalling’ state of Cleveland police complaint investigators must be fixed, monitor says (1/10/2017) Cleveland.com

Breakthrough charter school network splits up over speed of expansion plans (1/10/2017) Cleveland.com

Columbus semi-finalist for futuristic, high-speed transportation system (1/10/2017) Columbus Dispatch

Donald Trump gets revenge by dismantling Gov. John Kasich’s Ohio Republican Party machine: Analysis (1/7/2017) Cleveland.com

Gov. John Kasich to include congressional redistricting reform in budget (1/5/2017) Cleveland.com

20% of Global Center for Health Innovation remains vacant (1/3/2017) Cleveland.com

Dozens of new laws take effect in Ohio — here are some that may impact you (1/2/2017) Fox8

Federal agency demands RTA repay $12 million for Public Square closure, threatens to withhold federal funding (1/1/2017) Plain Dealer

Investors ‘putting down roots’ on Lorain (1/1/2017) Crain’s Cleveland Business

Cleveland in 1912: Civitas Triumphant by Dr. John Grabowski

The pdf is here

Cleveland 1912: Civitas Triumphant
By Dr. John Grabowski

During Cleveland’s long history a number of periods and a number of specific years stand out as special.   For sports aficionados the years immediately after World War II, and particularly 1948 were “the” championship years. For economic historians, 1832, the year the Ohio and Erie Canal was completed, stands out as the beginning of Cleveland’s evolution into a prosperous community with enormous potential for future development.   But, what if one were to ask what year, or what period marked the point at which Cleveland became a modern city, one deserving of national emulation or the question as to when did democracy truly triumph in Cleveland? The answer would have to be the Progressive Era of the early 1900s and, perhaps, specifically the year 1912.   The choice of 1912 is a bit subjective given the rich history of progressive-era Cleveland and the panoply of reformers, from Tom L. Johnson to Frederick Howe, and Belle Sherwin who played important roles in the period.   But 1912 is significant in large part because it was a one of the most propitious times for reform and change in the history of the city, state, and nation, and also the the year in which an altruistic and legally savvy reformer assumed the office of mayor. That person was Newton D. Baker.

Newton D. Baker took the oath of office as major of Cleveland on January 1, 1912.  He would serve as mayor for two terms, until 1916, a period in which the city would see a remarkable burst of governmental reform and a spate of what can only be termed “progressive” civic actions on the part of private individuals, organizations and corporations. While it is difficult to separate one year from the others in Baker’s tenure as mayor, 1912 is perhaps the best candidate both because it was his inaugural year as chief executive, and also the period in which the ideals and ideas he espoused also were on the center stage of state and national politics.

Baker was no newcomer to the local political scene. A lawyer, educated at Johns Hopkins and Washington and Lee, he came to the city in 1899 to work in the law office of former Congressman Martin Foran. Two years later he would become assistant law director in the administration of Tom L. Johnson. A year later, at the age of 32 he would become the city solicitor. Like Johnson, Baker was one of a growing number of individuals who sought to find solutions to a number of problems and issues that confronted the nation in the years after the Civil War. Industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and growing economic disparities severely challenged many of the nation’s foundational ideals, particularly concepts of democracy and equality.

The Progressive Movement or Era, in which Johnson and Baker played nationally prominent roles began in the late 1890s. It was largely urban in origin and its adherents and leaders tended to be well-educated middle class men and women.   Their motivations as reformers have been debated by historians for decades with some seeing the progressives working for their own self interests as the native-born middle class was seeing its power and status challenged by immigrant-based political machines in American cities and a wealthy plutocracy whose monopolistic business practices limited opportunities for small scale entrepreneurship. Other historians view the progressive agenda as more altruistic and genuine with roots in the evolving Social Gospel of the late nineteenth century while another interpretation sees the movement as a move to bring order and rationality to all aspects of American life, ranging from the creation of efficient industrial processes to the establishment of professions and professional standards in medicine, law and other occupations, as well as to more scientific means of dispensing philanthropy and dealing with social problems. Whatever their motivations the progressives would advocate a variety of measures to change politics and society, including referendum and initiative, pure food and drug laws, child labor laws, building codes, anti-monopoly legislation, and organized charitable solicitation.   They vigorously fought corrupt urban political machines, sought conciliation between labor and capital, and established the social settlement movement within the United States.

All of these motivations can be seen within the reforms undertaken in Cleveland from the 1890s to the 1920s and all are part of the story of the remarkable year of 1912. What happened in 1912 was astounding, but it was not so much revolutionary as evolutionary.   Its roots lay in the last decade of the nineteenth century, a period in which the city confronted a considerable number of major changes and issues.   One catalytic issue was the economy, particularly the Depression of 1893, which raised issues of labor and capital, the means to bring relief to the poor and unemployed, and the manner in which old solutions failed to address the needs of a rapidly modernizing nation. While the diversity of industry in Cleveland provided some buffer from the national economic decline, events such as the march on Washington by Coxey’s Army which originated in Massillon, Ohio, provided a nearby reminder of the labor unrest that had confronted the nation during previous economic downturns in 1877 and again in the mid-1880s and which might possibly worsen if matters weren’t corrected.

Nevertheless the city continued to grow during the decade and although the rate of immigration diminished briefly in 1894 and 1895, its population rose from 261,353 to 381,768 and its ranking among America cities from 10th to 7th between 1890 and 1900.   Although the rise in rank, and the fact that Cleveland had replaced Cincinnati as the state’s largest city was a matter of local pride the rapid growth brought substantial problems in its wake.   The most prominent of these was the squalor of older and severely overcrowded neighborhoods near the city’s center, including the Haymarket area, Lower Woodland, and the section around the “Angle” and Whiskey Island on the near West Side. Compounding the matter was the fact that older areas such as these lacked adequate water and sewers. Equally significant was the fact that neighborhoods like these were largely inhabited by the foreign-born and their children, a matter which begged the questions as to how or if an increasingly diverse population could or should be brought into the traditions of American democracy.   Ward bosses, such as “Czar” Harry Bernstein on lower Woodland tried to make the newcomers part of his version of urban democracy, a version that was anathematic to many of the long-settled middle class in the city. These situations initiated the first surge of activities in the city which were a combination of personal altruism and idealism and a corporatized search for order and solutions to the problems. The personalized approach was best represented by the rise of the settlement house movement in Cleveland. Hiram House, the city’s first settlement was established in 1896. Its founder, George Bellamy, a student at Hiram College, recalled coming to Cleveland on a survey mission (inspired by a visit to the college by Graham Taylor, the founder of Chicago Commons Settlement) and returning to Hiram to tell his classmates that Cleveland needed a settlement “very badly.”   Within four years another four settlements, Council Educational Alliance, Friendly Inn, Alta House, and Goodrich House had been established. Considered “Spearheads of Reform” by historian Allen Davis, the settlements represented grass roots progressive activity often driven by Social Gospel ideals and often fueled by youthful idealism. Their leaders sought to educate and help newcomers adjust to the city at the same time as they confronted political corruption, squalor, and poverty.

There was, however, a more pragmatic and, perhaps, less idealistic side to the rise of progressive reform in the city in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and it was led by the city’s Chamber of Commerce.   Its agenda fit neatly into the side of the Progressive Movement that sought order, rationality, and efficiency.   The businessmen who constituted its membership were familiar with these concepts having often applied them to their own enterprises and in doing so following the teachings of Frederick W. Taylor who pioneered scientific management in the 1880s. The work of various Chamber committees led to the creation of a series of bathhouses in areas that lacked household plumbing; a rational housing code for the city; and a system of charitable giving which would eventually lead to the Community Chest and today’s United Way. The Chamber was also key to the creation of the “Group Plan Commission” which led to the building of the Mall with its orderly arrangement of major civic buildings in the Beaux Arts style.   The Mall was, perhaps, the city’s first major urban renewal process as it replaced a declining neighborhood reflected unfavorably on the city. One can debate the motivations of the members of the Chamber of Commerce. Certainly, there was a touch of reform and altruism to their actions, but they also knew that others, including members of the Socialist Party and single taxers were suggesting alternative solutions to the problems that plagued growing urban industrial centers such as Cleveland.

It was, however, a businessman turned politician who eventually came to symbolize progressive reform in Cleveland.   Tom L. Johnson built a personal fortune by operating street railways which were, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, hugely lucrative private enterprises franchised by the cities in which they operated.   He began his career in Louisville, then operated lines in Indianapolis and lastly in Cleveland in 1879. He moved to the city ca. 1883. Wealthy, with a home on Euclid Avenue, Cleveland’s Millionaire’s Row, Johnson, Like Saul on the road to Damascus, underwent a conversion experience.   He read Henry George’s works and became an advocate of the single land tax and free trade — proposals that were frightening to his economic and social peers.   Johnson would then spend the remainder of his life, and the better part of his fortune trying to reform society through political action, first as a US Representative from the city’s 21st district (1890-1894) and then as a four-term (1901-1908) mayor of the city, the office in which he received national and international notice for his reforms. He was characterized by journalist Lincoln Steffens as follows” “Johnson is the best mayor of the best governed city in America.”

Johnson was one of several US mayors, including Hazen Pingree of Detroit and Samuel “Golden Rule” Jones and Brand Whitlock of Toledo who came to epitomize the rise of progressivism on the municipal level. Today their names and achievements are common to many historical texts on the era.   The hallmarks of Johnson’s mayoralty in Cleveland were an expansion of popular democracy, the professionalization of governmental functions and an advocacy of the public ownership of services, including utilities and urban transit. He succeeded in the first two – his tent meetings and very “populist” mayoral campaigns were unlike any seen in the city before and the people he chose for his cabinet to manage legal issues, public safety, water services, and the penal system were professionals with the best credentials, rather than campaign supporters and political hacks.   However, his plans and hopes for municipal ownership of utilities and urban transport never fully succeeded. Indeed, his campaign for control of the street railways and especially the imposition of a standard three-cent fare engendered strong opposition, and eventually led to his defeat in 1908 by a public grown weary of the issue.  

Johnson also struggled with the matter of restructuring the system of government for Cleveland.   While he was able to hire the best managers, the statehouse, using the then current 1851 state constitution, dictated the manner in which cities could design their systems of offices and responsibilities as well as their overall structure of representation and governance.   The state system was antiquated and could not match the needs of growing urban areas – the problem was not unique to Cleveland nor to Ohio and it represented part of a growing gap between rural-dominated statehouses and polyglot industrial cities.   The solution was “home rule,” that is the ability of the citizens of a particular municipality to select the system that best suited their needs. Johnson campaigned on a platform of home rule but here too, was unable to achieve it before his defeat by Republican Hermann Baehr in 1908.

Yet his defeat in 1908 did not signal an end to progressive reform in the city. By the time Johnson had left office the movement was firmly embedded not only in the city but in the nation.   The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, which also ended in 1908, had given a progressive hue to national politics. Most important for Cleveland, however, was that Johnson’s acolytes, particularly Newton D. Baker, remained in the city and remained committed to concepts of democratic and social reform.   Likewise, but from another perspective, the business-based focus on rationality and order accelerated, and, for whatever its drawbacks, would continue to effect significant changes to the manner in which the city, and most particularly, its benevolent institutions operated.

The major thread of local continuity was Newton D. Baker. Baker continued to serve as City Solicitor during the Baehr administration and, upon Johnson’s death in 1911, he assumed leadership of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.   While Baker shared the same idealistic zeal of his mentor, Johnson, he more truly fit the mold of the typical progressive and, by virtue of that, was became a more effective leader in the movement. Unlike Johnson, he had a university education and was professionally trained as a lawyer. Unlike Johnson, he had never garnered wealth, but at that time remained a member of the middle, professional class. Also, Baker was young.   Johnson was 47 when he became mayor in 1901, Baker was 30 when he joined the administration that year, an age more in concert with the group of young social workers and civic advocates with which he socialized. Among these was a college classmate, Frederick Howe, who was active in a variety of local reform organizations including Goodrich Settlement House.   Certainly, his tenure with Johnson was one akin to apprentice and master in regard to politics, but Baker learned quickly and his ability as an articulate, informed public speaker made him an asset to the administration and eventually would, along with his deep understanding of the law, form the basis for a political career which would eclipse that of his mentor.   Baker ran for mayor in 1911 against Republican businessman, Frank G. Hogan, and won handily.

Baker’s assumption of the office of mayor in 1912 was one of three seminal political events that year, each heavily colored by the urge for progressive reform. The most visible was the impending US Presidential campaign which would find three candidates seeking the office: Democratic Woodrow Wilson; Republican William Howard Taft the incumbent; and the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party candidate, former President Theodore Roosevelt.   The other event was a state constitutional convention in Ohio which was charged with redrafting or amending the state’s 1851 Constitution. Baker, as mayor of Cleveland would play important roles in both of these events and in doing so gain stature for himself and his city in the state and nation.

When Baker assumed the office of mayor, Cleveland was the nation’s sixth largest city and its population was over 600,000. Baker’s campaign had promised more reforms including the municipal ownership urban utilities including gas, electric, street railways, and even the telephone system.   He also strongly advocated home rule.   His primary goal, however, was something he called “civitism,” a word which he coined and which referred to the creation of a sense of pride in all citizens for their city. It was a pride to be built upon a broad participatory democracy and which would bring in its wake the buildings, cultural institutions, parks and other physical amenities that make a city great.   Baker’s margin of victory in 1912, over 17,000 votes, was the largest in the city’s history up to that time. Short in stature (he was only 5’ 6” tall) Baker was not physically imposing, as had been his mentor, Johnson, but he made up for the lack of stature with superb oratorical skills and well-honed abilities as a debater.

Like Johnson he appealed to a broad democracy, holding tent meetings around the city during election periods and speaking at numerous venues for dedications, neighborhood gatherings and other “technically” non-political events. That, along with his substantial plurality allowed him to achieve things that had eluded Johnson. By 1914 Cleveland had is municipal electric provider (today’s Cleveland Public Power).   Although street railways were not fully municipalized until 1942, his administration, notably through the efforts of Peter Witt, (Baker’s Commissioner of Street Railways),was able to use municipal oversight to get fares dropped to 3 cents. Baker then went on a “three-cent binge” creating municipal dance halls that offered dances at that price and selling fish from Lake Erie at three cents, the fish being trawled for by city boats.  The municipal electric plant also offered 3 cent lighting!

Baker’s first year in office set a tone for other events that enhanced the progressive nature of the community.   The West Side Market, the site of which had been purchased by the city under the Johnson administration in 1902, dedicated its new modern facility in 1912.   Designed by the noted architectural firm of Hubbell and Benes, the building was the epitome of a modern market, sanitary, attractive, and hugely efficient. In October 1912, the emphasis on democracy and open civic debate favored by progressives such as Johnson and Baker came into its own with the founding of the City Club of Cleveland.   On the same day, January 1, that Baker took office, the new County Court House, a landmark of the Group Plan opened.   Baker’s two terms of office would see the construction of its counterpart, the City Hall, which would open in 1916, the year after Baker left office. The site of the old city hall, on Superior Avenue, then became that for the new building of the Cleveland Public Library. Citizens approved a bond issue to pay for the new building in 1912. It would open in 1925.

Paralleling these civic reforms was a continued growth of industry and entrepreneurship in the city, something attributable, in part, to the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce to stabilize the chaos of urbanization in Cleveland.   Although one can pinpoint several major industrial developments in the city during 1912 – including the expansion of the Otis Steel Works into a major new plant in the Flats south of Clark Avenue, statistics for the decade as a whole show an enormous growth in productivity. The values of industrial products made in Cleveland was $271,960,833 in 1910, it rose to $350,000,000 in 1914, and after World War I to $ 1,091,577,490 in 1920. That growth did not, however, come without continued conflict between capital and labor.   In 1911, 4,000 workers in Cleveland’s large, and growing garment industry went on strike.   Their action failed, but in ensuing years manufacturers tried to stave off unionization by offering benefits, lunchrooms, recreation and employee representation in decision making.   This variety of corporate paternalism was considered progressive at the time, but that definition is debated by some contemporary historians.

What made 1912 a seminal year for the city was not simply what took place within its borders, but the influence it wielded on the state and national level during that year, influence largely attributable to its mayor.   In 1910 Ohio voters had called for a new constitutional convention.   The last attempt to modify the State’s primary document had ended in failure in 1873 and the 1851 constitution that remained in place was totally inadequate to the needs of the state, most particularly those of its urban areas. The convention opened in Columbus in January 1912.   The delegates to the conference chose not to change the Constitution itself but rather proposed a series of amendments to be put before the electorate.   The forty-two amendments they offered to voters in a September 3 election encompassed a substantial portion of the progressive agenda.   They called for initiative and referendum as a means to bring the peoples’ voice directly to lawmaking; home rule which would allow communities of over 5,000 people to establish their own systems of governance; labor reforms including the establishment of a minimum wage, workman’s compensation and a provision to allow the legislature to set working hours; an expanded state bill of rights; a line-item veto for the governor; and the right for Ohio Women to hold certain state offices and to vote.

Mayor Newton D. Baker was one of the principal advocates for the progressive agenda of the convention, speaking before the delegates drafting the amendments and then stumping for proposals prior to the election.   He was in excellent company – others who spoke included Brand Whitlock, the progressive mayor of Toledo, Ohio, Hiram Johnson, the governor who had made California a bell weather progressive state and Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft, who would go on to become the candidates in one of the nation’s most critical Presidential contests in the fall.

In September voters approved thirty-two of the proposed amendments. Among those rejected was women suffrage, but all of the major amendments relating to labor, direct democracy, and home rule passed.   Subsequent state legislation would make these progressive concepts a reality. Baker’s role as advocate was critical to the enormous liberalization of the state’s constitution and this brought national notice and credit to him and his city.

The Presidential campaign then served to heighten his stature.   Then as now, Ohio was a critical electoral state and then as now, the vote in Cuyahoga County had significant impact on statewide election results. The contest that year was arguably the last in which a third party candidate had legitimate hopes for victory.   That candidate was former President Theodore Roosevelt.   He had sought the nomination of his original party, the Republicans, but was defeated by William Howard Taft, the man whom he had selected as his successor has President in 1908 but whose conservative actions had irritated him and other progressive Republicans.   Interestingly, it was a set of adroit maneuvers by Cleveland Republican Party boss, Maurice Mashke, that loaded the Ohio delegation at the convention with votes destined for Taft thus ensuring Roosevelt’s loss of the nomination. Roosevelt then bolted the party, and became the candidate of the new Progressive (or Bull Moose) Party.   Baker, however, had strong ties to the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson, who would win the three-way contest. He had taken a class taught by Wilson at Johns Hopkins University and had remained close to Wilson ever since. Both were intellectuals who had entered the political arena as reformers; Baker, of course, in Cleveland and Wilson, the President of Princeton University as the reform governor of New Jersey in 1911.   The connection was valuable to both – Baker made a critical speech at the Democratic Convention in Baltimore that helped Wilson win the nomination and Wilson would invite Baker, in several instances to become part of his Presidential administration. Although Baker declined the initial overtures, wishing to continue his service as mayor of Cleveland he would, after he had left office in 1916, accept the invitation to become the Secretary of War.

Baker had many reasons to wish to stay in Cleveland, foremost among them was the chance to use the new Home Rule amendment to create a special city charter for Cleveland.   By doing so he would he would fulfill one of his mentor, Tom Johnson’s major goals – the creation of a modern, rational system of governance specifically suited to the needs of Cleveland.   The process began in 1913 with the election of a special commission to decide on the new governmental structure.   Their proposal went to the voters in 1914 and was approved by a margin of two to one. With the system in place and Baker elected to a second term in office, Cleveland remained one of the nation’s premier examples of progressive government.

The restructuring of government and Baker’s national prominence were not the only factors that brought notice to the city.   It continued to exhibit “civitas” on other fronts, both philanthropic and cultural.   Frederick Goff’s establishment of the Cleveland Foundation in 1914 made the city the pioneer in the creation of community funds.   The establishment of the Federation For Charity and Philanthropy (the successor to the Chamber of Commerce’s Committee on Benevolent Institutions and the predecessor to the Community Fund) in 1913 marked the beginning of federated charitable solicitation and distribution.   The creation of a city Department of Welfare under the auspices of the new Home Rule charter in 1914 added to the evolving modern social service infrastructure.   Two years later a Women’s City Club would come into being, evidence of the gender divide that continued despite the progressive impulse. The same year saw the opening of the Cleveland Museum of Art and the first performance at the Cleveland Playhouse.

Within another year, however, the United States would join the great European war and that experience would both overshadow and, according to some historians, tarnish the rise of progressivism in the United States. One of its most visible consequences for Cleveland was the elevation of Newton Baker to a place of international prominence.   Baker had left the mayor’s office in 1916 to establish his own law firm (it exists today as Baker Hostetler), but within months he was asked by President Wilson to join his cabinet as Secretary of War. He accepted, taking a leave of absence from the law firm.   Within a year he found himself undertaking the Herculean task of creating, training, and equipping an army of two-million and then transferring it to Europe.   The task involved logic, political challenges, and the expenditure of vast amounts of money.   In true progressive style he assembled a team of expert, efficient managers and, by and large, performed a logistical and political miracle.

While the “war to end all wars” ended successfully for the US and its allies, it was followed almost immediately by a period of disillusionment.   The rationale for entering the war was questioned as was the strict regimentation of society for the war effort, a regimentation that often curtailed individual liberties and which was sometimes colored by propaganda-driven biases and prejudices.   In some ways this reflected badly on that aspect of progressivism which focused on order and rationality.   Baker was caught up in this maelstrom of second thoughts after the war. He stumped enthusiastically for President Wilson’s campaign to have the United States become a member of the League of Nations – a concept that very much reflected on the social idealism of progressivism. The campaign failed and the US entered the 1920s seeking “normalcy,” which in many ways seemed to counter the old zeal for reform and change.

Some historians see the war and the decade that followed as the end of the Progressive Era, while others argue that many progressives continued to be influential, noting that a number would rise to prominence, ideals intact, within the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt.   Baker’s position during this period seems ambiguous.   He remained active on the political front, serving as the chairman of the county Democratic Party until 1936 and in 1932 he was considered a viable candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for President. But during this time, when the bulk of his time was devoted to his law firm, he arguably became increasingly conservative politically and was, at times, at odds with the Roosevelt Administration.   He objected, in particular, to the expansion of Federal power and programs during the New Deal.

Whether or not Baker remained a “true” progressive until his death in 1937 or whether or not the movement ended in the early 1920s or later, are interesting and important historical questions. However, there is no question as to the impact of the legacy of the Progressive Era in Cleveland and, particularly, that of the events of 1912 on the subsequent history of city.   For example, the surveys conducted by the Cleveland Foundation during its early years helped shape a number of areas of social policy, including public education in the 1920s. The establishment of Home Rule allowed Cleveland to create a city manager form of government in 1921. The city manager system was a true progressive ideal as it attempted to move politics out and professional administration into the running of a city. It functioned from 1923 to 1931, when the Depression and patronage politics undermined it.   Today examples of the progressive legacy abound ranging from Mall, the Metro Parks system pioneered by William Stinchcomb, in 1917 to the set of arts and cultural institutions that set Cleveland apart from other cities.   In regard to organized charity and philanthropy the annual United Way fund drive and institutions such as East End Neighborhood House, Goodrich-Gannett, and Hiram House Camp which had their beginnings in the period continue to serve the community today.   Perhaps most importantly, the principal of direct democracy, made possible by initiative and referendum remains alive and viable, as was demonstrated in the statewide referendum relating to the bargaining rights of public employees on the 2011 ballot.

Certainly, the selection of 1912 as one of “the” years in Cleveland’s history can be debated. However, now, a century thereafter, the degree to which the events that took place during it and in the surrounding era still shape daily lives in the city and state is simply remarkable.   But, perhaps of greater consequence is the fact that the ideals and persistence of those who used their intellect and altruistic ideals to promote change 100 years ago can and should, continue to inspire us.

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