The 2020 general election will soon be a memory.
One hundred years ago the nation was recovering from the effects of WWI. There had been a worldwide pandemic of Spanish flu which had killed an estimated 500 million people around the globe.
Perhaps the most interesting part of that election was the recent passing of the 19th Amendment. This is the amendment which gave women the right to vote in every state. Some states had allowed female voting, but the majority held that women were not capable of making such decisions.
Classes were offered to the ladies in order to learn how to register to vote along with directions for filling out a ballot.
Then, as now, many “would-be” presidential candidates expressed interest in being the nation’s leader. One of those actually campaigned briefly in Greene County.
Greene County resident Capt. C.L. Darling thought the proper person for the position was his friend Gen. Leonard Wood, who was at that time well known for his military experience. His primary vocation was that of a physician. Following his graduation from Harvard Medical School, he received a civilian contract as an Army surgeon. He served in the Apache campaign which led to the capture of Geronimo. Later in his career he was the supervisor for Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt. He became military commander of Cuba and in 1903 was commissioned in the regular Army and became governor of Moro Province in The Philippines.
April 24, 1920 was the date he rode the train into Xenia. A large crowd gathered to get a peek at the man who could be the next president of the United States. In addition to the speeches, entertainment was provided by the Shannon Stock Company. This was a group of local actors who often appeared at the Opera House.
Darlington had the honor of introducing Wood. The candidate spoke very eloquently to the assembly. The general announced that he was in favor of law and order, the rights of property and declared a standing army of 200,000 was needed for national defense.
When the Republican Party met for the convention in Chicago, Wood was passed over in favor of Sen. Warren G. Harding of Ohio. His running mate was Calvin Coolidge.
Interestingly enough, the Democrat Party selected James M. Cox also of Ohio to be their candidate. Cox was well known in the Miami Valley having been involved in the newspaper business for some years. His running mate was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Ohio has sent many men to the White House. With both candidates this particular year from Ohio, there was no doubt that Ohio would send another man to supervise the affairs of the nation.
Harding won the election that year and interestingly enough Coolidge and Roosevelt each became president in later years.
Perhaps you can recite the names of the other presidents from Ohio but just in case, here they are.
Although he was born in Virginia, William Henry Harrison spent a considerable amount of his life in Ohio when Ohio was a territory. He served with Gen. Anthony Wayne on several missions through the territory. He was at the Battle of Falling Timbers where Tecumseh died and also served as a member of Congress from Ohio. The campaign slogan was “Tippecanoe and Tyler too.”
Ulysses S. Grant was the first native of Ohio to be elected to the high office. He was born in Point Pleasant. His success as a notable general in the Army are well known in history. He had a remarkable career in the Army before leading the country. He served as president from 1869-1877.
Another Ohio native followed Grant in office. Rutherford B. Hayes was born in Delaware. He had previously served as a member of the U.S. Congress and also as governor of Ohio. His term ran from 1877-1881.
James A. Garfield became the 20th president, serving in 1881. He has the dubious honor of being the second U.S. president to be assassinated while in office. He served only six months of his term.
Benjamin Harrison was the grandson of William Henry Harrison. Born in North Bend (near Cincinnati) he was the 23rd president. He followed Grover Cleveland for a 4-year term from 1889-1893 and was succeeded by Cleveland.
William McKinley, the 25th president, was born in Niles. He was in office from 1897 until 1901. Just six months into his second 4-year term, he too was assassinated.
Ohioan William Howard Taft was the 27th president. He assumed the position from Theodore Roosevelt in 1909. Prior to becoming president, he served as the 10th chief justice of the Supreme Court. He died in Marion where there is a large memorial in his honor.
The 29th president was William Harding, born in Blooming Grove. His term from 1921-24 was shortened by his death in 1923.
We can hope that at some future date another Ohio native will achieve the high honor of serving the country as the president.
Perhaps that child who lives next door will be the one.
Joan Baxter is a Greene County historian and resident.