CLEVELAND: AN HISTORICAL OVERVIEW from Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (1987)

From Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (1987)
CLEVELAND: AN HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

PREFACE

Editor’s Note: This text comprises the preface to the first printed edition (1987) of the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History and as such its history of the city ends in 1987.   It was written by several historians who had extensive expertise in the city’s history for different time periods.  Robert Wheeler of Cleveland State University (1796 to 1860 section);  Robert Weiner of Cuyahoga Community College (1861-1929 section); and Carol Poh (Miller) (1931 to 1980s section).   

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See the Cuyahoga River, Clean Water Act Video that won a St. Ignatius senior 2nd prize in C-SPAN competition

by Peter Krouse
The 1972 Clean Water Act was created to stop river fires, but can it help today? In 1969 the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio burst into flames after being filled with toxic oil and waste for decades. Since, the EPA has led a charge to try to change that. Follow me as I dive into the Nixon-era law that changed how we view water quality and try to answer the ultimate question, did it work? And if it did, what can we learn from it for the problems we face today like climate change?

Garrett A. Morgan, Cleveland’s ‘Black Edison,’ created today’s traffic light and gas mask by Brenda Cain, Plain Dealer, Feb 4, 2022

#BlackHistoryMonth

Garrett Morgan called himself the “Black Edison.” He invented the forerunners of the modern gas mask and traffic signal. (Plain Dealer file photo)
Garrett A. Morgan, Cleveland’s ‘Black Edison,’ created today’s traffic light and gas mask: Black History Month’s Untold Stories
by Brenda Cain, Plain Dealer, Feb 4, 2022

African Americans built a tiny enclave on the outskirts of toney Chagrin Falls: Black History Month

This was a typical home in Chagrin Falls Park. Families often built structures out of reclaimed building materials and depended on oil laps and coal stoves for light and heat. (Photo courtesy Chagrin Falls Historical Society)

African Americans built a tiny enclave on the outskirts of toney Chagrin Falls: Black History Month
by Brenda Cain, Plain Dealer Feb 7, 2022
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Zelma Watson George, the Cleveland opera singer who had a president’s ear: Black History Month Untold Stories by Brenda Cain, Plain Dealer

#BlackHistoryMonth
This 1990 photo of Zelma Watson George was taken at a fundraiser for the Cancer Society. She was 91-years-old. (The Plain Dealer file photo)
Zelma Watson George, the Cleveland opera singer who had a president’s ear: Black History Month Untold Stories
by Brenda Cain, Plain Dealer February 1, 2022

 

“Having Given Them Bayonets, We Will Not Withhold the Ballot”- Republicans and Black Suffrage in Reconstruction Ohio, 1865-1867 by Jacob T Mach

“Having Given Them Bayonets, We Will Not Withhold the Ballot”- Republicans and Black Suffrage in Reconstruction Ohio, 1865-1867

by Jacob T Mach, 2020, Master of Arts (MA), Bowling Green State University, History.

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Ohio politics during the Reconstruction era has received sparse treatment by historians. Not until 1970 with Felice Bonadio’s North of Reconstruction was there a monograph solely dedicated to Ohio politics during the era. Robert Sawrey wrote his Dubious Victory in 1992, but still the historiography on Reconstruction Ohio remains dramatically underdeveloped. In Ohio, the question of African American suffrage was the single most divisive issue facing politicians during the era. Radical Republicans brought a referendum before the people of Ohio in 1867 to change the state constitution to protect the suffrage rights of both white and black males above the age of 21. The measure failed 216,987 votes (45.9 percent) to 255,340 (54.1 percent) votes. The failure of the suffrage amendment disheartened many Radical Republicans across Ohio and the rest of the North, yet Ohio Republicans managed to elicit more support for suffrage than most states in the North. Such support did not arise randomly; it intentionally developed over a three-year period beginning after the Civil War. Two primary research questions drive this project: 1) Did suffrage become a crucial issue in the state of Ohio earlier than the existing historiography suggests, 2) why were Ohio radicals able to generate more support for black suffrage within the Republican party than in other states in the North? By showing that Republican support (through Congressional voting records, public support via speeches and letters, and by Republican-sympathetic papers throughout the state) for black suffrage existed in significant numbers in 1865 (prior to 1866-1867, as Bonadio, Sawrey and others suggest) in both the Western Reserve and in other parts of the state and only continued to grow until the referendum in the fall of 1867, this project will argue that black suffrage was not only being pursued by radicals, but ultimately by the vast majority of the Republican party. Ohio’s inability to secure black suffrage with overwhelming Republican support will in turn help to explain why other northern states achieved even less success in their pursuit of black suffrage.

Tom L. Johnson’s Tax School: The Fight for Democracy and Control of Cleveland’s Tax Machinery by Andrew L Whitehair

Tom L. Johnson’s Tax School: The Fight for Democracy and Control of Cleveland’s Tax Machinery

by Andrew L Whitehair, 2020, Master of Arts in History, Cleveland State University, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

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Prior to Tom L. Johnson’s election to mayor of Cleveland in 1901, the city’s tax system was rife with inequality. Johnson sought to correct these inequalities by democratizing Cleveland’s tax system. To accomplish this aim, he established a new department in City Hall, called the “tax school,” which was designed to educate Clevelanders about the existing tax system’s failures as well as Johnson’s proposed solutions. The tax school worked to improve the tax assessment process by implementing a scientific approach, improving transparency, and soliciting citizen input. Johnson’s efforts, however, met with resistance from an entrenched business elite that employed the state legislature and courts to destroy Johnson’s tax school. Through political campaigns of misinformation, usurpation of the primary process, and stuffing key tax institutions with friendly partisans, these business elites conspired to control the tax machinery of Cuyahoga County. This study of Johnson’s efforts to democratically reform Cleveland’s tax system reveals how the city’s business elite colluded to destroy the tax school and to retain the levers of tax power. In providing the canonical account of Cleveland’s tax school, I situate the history of the tax school within a multi-party negotiation governed by unequal power relationships between business elites and the rest of society. The wealthiest Clevelanders possessed the greatest access to the tax system, and they used that access to rig the system in their favor.