Journal-News, Sunday, Oct. 6, 1991
Hamilton lawyer Ohio's governor during city centennial celebration
(This is the seventh of eight columns on Hamilton's 1891 centennial celebration.)
By Jim Blount
A Hamilton resident was governor of Ohio when the city held its centennial celebration 100 years ago. James E. Campbell, born in Middletown, July 7, 1843, was elected governor in 1889 serving a two year term. His gubernatorial term highlighted a political career which started in 1875 when he, while a Hamilton lawyer, was elected to a county office.
As a 20-year-old, Campbell had entered the Civil War in November 1863, serving as a master's mate on the Mississippi River gunboats, Elk and the Naiad. He was discharged 10 months later because of disability.
By the winter of 1865 he had regained his health and resumed the study of law in Middletown. During that time he also worked as a bookkeeper in a bank and as a deputy collector of internal revenue before starting his law practice in 1867 in Hamilton.
Jan. 4, 1870, the young lawyer married Maude Elizabeth Owens, the daughter of a Hamilton industrialist.
During the 1872 election campaign, Campbell changed his political affiliation from Republican to the Democrat and three years later, in 1875, he launched his political career, winning election as Butler County prosecutor. He was elected to a second term in 1877.
His political aspirations turned toward the state and in 1879, Campbell was an unsuccessful candidate for the state senate — losing by only 12 votes.
Two years later, he was elected to the first of three consecutive terms as a state representative
(1882-1886) before earning the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination in 1889.
Campbell won the office, defeating the two-term Republican governor, Joseph B. Foraker of Cincinnati, by a margin of 10,872 votes (379,423 to 368,551). His triumph — which included winning every precinct in Butler County — was duly celebrated in Hamilton.
"The Campbell residence on the (southwest) corner of Ludlow and Fourth streets was the scene of great rejoicing," noted a Hamilton newspaper the day after the election.
"From early evening until midnight, the friends of James E. Campbell called at his brilliantly illuminated home and congratulated him upon his election."
A steady rain Thursday, Nov. 7, failed to dampen the enthusiasm of a community parade and celebration of the Hamilton lawyer's statewide victory.
His term is notable for several political changes which Campbell championed. In each case, the reform returned political power to voters.
But Campbell failed to win re-election in the 1891 election, losing to future president, William McKinley, by 21,511 votes (386,739 to 365,228).
"The campaign was notable be cause the two candidates for governor, personal friends, throughout maintained the policy of discussing issues and not personalities," observed Simeon D. Fess, editor of Ohio, The History Of A Great State (1937).
"Many friends of Gov. Campbell believed that had he been elected governor in 1891, he would have been the choice of the Democratic Party in 1892 for the presidential nomination," said Fees, a Republican, whose political credentials included five terms in the U. S. House of Representatives (1913-1923) and two terms as a U. S. senator from Ohio (1923-1935).
After leaving the statehouse, Campbell resumed his law practice in Columbus.
He continued to serve the state in a variety of ways, including membership on the Ohio State University board of trustees and as president of the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society (now the Ohio Historical Society).
Campbell died Dec. 17, 1924. Earlier that year, he had observed his 81st birthday while heading the Ohio delegation at the Democratic National Convention.
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Journal-News, Sunday. Oct. 13, 1991
Gov. James Campbell favored secret ballot
(This is the last of eight columns on Hamilton's 1891 centennial celebration.)
By Jim Blount
The secret ballot was adopted in Ohio 100 years ago through the leadership of Gov. James E. Campbell, a Butler County native. Campbell — a Hamilton lawyer when elected in 1889 — urged the switch to the secret ballot as he began his two-year term as governor on Jan. 13, 1890.
During his inaugural address, he said "no reform in government, municipal or otherwise, can be successful unless every elector is secured, a free, secret, untrammeled and unpurchased ballot which shall be honestly counted and returned."
Campbell said "it is apparent to anyone that when the voter must retire to absolute privacy in order to prepare his ballot, there is no object in bribing him, because the bribery fails."
In reference to another common abuse of the late 19th century, Campbell said with a secret ballot, "equally fruitless would be the attempted intimidation by employers or political bullies, or any of the craftier forms of coercion."
The Australian ballot (or secret ballot) was approved by the Ohio General Assembly later that year.
A Hamilton newspaper, commenting on the outcome of the November 1889 gubernatorial vote, declared that "the principle of home rule is triumphant" with the election of the Hamilton lawyer. Campbell emphasized that point during his January 1890 inaugural speech when he called for reducing the appointive power of the governor.
"Your attention is directed to various laws, passed in recent years, enlarging the authority of the chief executive," said Campbell.
The new Ohio leader, said the governor, "has been empowered thereby to appoint boards which control, to a larger extent, the government and expenditures of certain cities" with populations of 9,000 or more.
Campbell asked the Ohio General Assembly to "investigate the whole subject of municipal reform" and legislate "speedy relief to those which are subject, in many respects, to gubernatorial control."
The controversial municipal legislation to which Campbell objected had been adopted by the state legislature in 1889 during the administration of Gov. Joseph B. Foraker.
In Hamilton and other Ohio cities, the legislation created a four-person board of public affairs, comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats, who were appointed by the governor. The boards were to assume control within 60 days of the law's adoption on Jan. 31,1889.
Stephen D. Cone explained in A Concise History of Hamilton, Ohio , that the law left little power in the hands of local voters. Cone said the four appointees had the "entire charge of the police department, the fire department, the street department and the department of public health."
Cone said the board's powers included appointment of all members of the police and fire departments, and the law provided "that in the place of the abolished board of health, the regular patrolman should be given the powers of sanitary police."
The law was repealed during Campbell's first year in office.
Another Campbell concern involved a convenience, relatively new in 1890, which also had become a threat to public safety.
The governor said "the application of electricity is rapidly opening new fields of legislation. Unless something be done to prevent the sacrifice of life daily, resulting from defective electric wires, the companies . . . will have grown so rich and powerful that the passage and enforcement of proper laws will be difficult."
Campbell said "municipalities have attempted to enforce regulations for protection from such dangers, but without satisfactory results."
In appraising Campbell's term at his death in 1924, the Columbus Dispatch said "his official conduct was simply the natural outworking of his character — scrupulously honest, frank and straightforward, fair to political opponents and supporters alike, industrious and efficient."
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Journal-News, Sunday, Oct. 20, 1991
Robert McCloskey's ducks now in Moscow
(This is the first of two columns on Hamilton-born children's author Robert McCloskey)
By Jim Blount
The writings and illustrations of a Hamilton native were spotlighted in Moscow last summer when President George Bush and his wife, Barbara, were guests of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa.
In an act symbolic of the end of a 40-year Cold War, Mrs. Bush presented a copy of bronze representatives of Robert McCloskey's classic children's book, "Make Way for Ducklings."
Placement of the larger-than-life work in a Moscow park was initiated during the Soviet couple's 1990 visit to the U. S. During the visit the two first ladies visited the Boston Public Garden where they observed a bronze duck and eight bronze ducklings, designed by Boston Sculptor Nancy Schon.
The Boston sculpture — including a mother duck 40 inches high and her trailing ducklings, each 18 inches high — depicts Mrs. Mallard and her brood, the central characters in McCloskey's award-winning book, which Bush identified as one she likes to read aloud during visits to schools.
Because of Mrs. Gorbachev's interest, Boston leaders began a movement to create a replica for a park in the USSR. The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities headed the project which climaxed in July with the unveiling of the ducks in the Moscow park by the first ladies.
The unusual tribute to the international appeal of the writing and sketches of McCloskey was overshadowed within a few days by the failed coup within the USSR.
McCloskey was born in Hamilton Sept. 15, 1914. After graduating from Hamilton High School in 1932, he accepted a scholarship to the Vesper George School in Boston.
A McCloskey legacy to his hometown was spawned two years later when he was commissioned to do the bas-reliefs for Hamilton's then new municipal building.
"The dignity of the building is further enriched by the stone carving at the several entrances, models having been executed by Robert McCloskey, a Hamilton boy whose talent was recognized by his art supervisor during his high school days, and who just finished another scholarship year at an Eastern school of art," said a souvenir book published in November 1935 when the municipal building was dedicated.
"The young sculptor has caught the spirit of civic growth from pioneer days to the present, and has forcefully depicted many phases of our community and national enterprises," the book said.
"Of special interest is the High Street entrance, the circular panels of which typify the industries that have been instrumental in building this community and also the cultural things that have added joy to life," the description said.
A few years later, McCloskey was working in Cambridge, Mass., assisting Francis Scott Bradford in creating large murals of area socialites for the Lever Brothers' Building.
While completing this project, McCloskey noticed the ducks in Boston Public Gardens, the first U. S. public botanical park.
It took about four years to develop the book as McCloskey collected stories on the Boston ducklings and the traffic problems they have caused.
He also studied stuffed ducks in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and reportedly kept live ducks in his New York apartment as he completed his story and sketches.
"Make Way for Ducklings" was published in 1941. A year later, the book earned McCloskey the coveted Caldecott Medal.
In 50 years, two million copies have been published in 75 editions while the Hamilton native was completing other children's favorites.
"The continued popularity of McCloskey's stories is the result of the ability of words and pictures to communicate lively plots and convincing characters," said Jon C. Stott in "Children's Literature from A to Z, A Guide for Parents and Teachers" (McGraw-Hill. 19841.
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Journal News, Sunday, Oct. 27, 1991
Hamilton boyhood reflected in Robert McCloskey's works
(This is the last of two columns on Hamilton-born children's author Robert McCloskey)
By Jim Blount
Hamilton, Robert McCloskey's hometown, is portrayed in several of the award-winning children's books he wrote and illustrated. Born in Hamilton Sept. 15, 1914, he recalled his Hamilton boyhood when he produced his first book in 1940, eight years after graduating from Hamilton High School.
McCloskey left Hamilton in 1932 to accept a scholarship to the Vesper George School in Boston. Later he studied at the National Academy of Design in New York City while exhibiting his work in New York and Boston.
McCloskey's entry into children's literature is attributed to advice from May Massee, then the editor of junior books at Viking Press in New York.
In 1940, under Miss Massee's direction, Viking published Lentil , a humorous story of a harmonica-playing boy who helps his midwestern town in a time of crisis. It has been described as part autobiographical and reflective of McCloskey's Hamilton childhood.
In 1941, his second book, Make Way For Ducklings , was published, earning McCloskey his first Caldecott Medal in 1942. The Caldecott Medal — first awarded in 1938 by the American Library Association — is bestowed annually on "the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published in the United States during the preceding year."
McCloskey — who won the honor a second time in 1956 — was the first artist to earn the Caldecott twice. His works also have been runnerups twice. Other McCloskey books have included:
Homer Price, 1943, a collection of humorous, exaggerated stories about a boy growing up in the Midwest. Blueberries for Sal , 1948, and One Morning in Maine , 1952, both based on the adventures of his oldest daugther, Sal. Both volumes also were Caldecott honor books.
Centerburg Tales, 1952, a continuation of the Homer Price stories, in which Hamilton resembles Centerburg.
Burt Dow: Deep-Water Man, 1963, is a maritime tale about an old salt who takes refuge from a storm by sailing into the belly of a whale.
"During the 1950s and 1960s, McCloskey illustrated works of several other children's writers. including Ruth Sawyer's Journey Cake, Ho! (1953) and Keith Robertson's Henry Reed stories, including Henry Reed Inc. (1955), according to Jon C. Stott in Children's Literature from A to Z, A Guide for Parents and Teachers, published in 1984.
Stott said "McCloskey's stories contain many autobiographical elements. His home of Hamilton serves as the basis for Alto in Lentil and Centerburg in the Homer Price stories, while Homer and Lentil are said to bear amazing physical and character resemblances to the artist as a boy."
"McCloskey, through the artistry of his words and pictures, is able to universalize these autobiographical elements," Stott said.
"The design and rhythm of the illustrations capture the humor of the situations of his characters.
Sal is depicted mistaking a bear for her mother; Homer, seeking a way to control mountains of donuts; Mrs. Mallard, bringing the Boston traffic to a halt; and Lentil, lounging in a bathtub playing the harmonica."
Stott said "although McCloskey has maintained that he is an artist rather than a storyteller, he is, in fact, a consummate storyteller. His use of colloquial dialogue effectively creates character while his repetition of verbal patterns builds plots to exciting climaxes."
Millions of copies of McCloskey's books support Stott's appraisal.
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