Journal-News, Monday, July 6, 1992
War brought civilian travel restrictions in 1942
By Jim Blount
"Is Your Trip Necessary?" Civilian travelers were asked that question during the summer of 1942. The question was repeated on numerous posters and public service advertisements and announcements.
"Needless travel interferes with the war effort," potential travelers were reminded as the nation struggled to conserve fuels and reserve its transportation resources for war purposes.
Saturday, July 4, 1942, was not considered a holiday here, "Let's work, not celebrate" was the slogan as the first Independence Day of World War II approached.
The emphasis was on conservation instead of highway safety that weekend Local drivers were urged to limit their speed to 40 miles an hour to stretch gas and tire mileage.
Owners of the 33,760 motor vehicles among Butler County's 132,000 inhabitants already had plenty of reasons to limit their driving.
Since Jan. 1, 1942, government approval had been required for the purchase of a new car. The freeze on the sale of new cars "for the duration" had been announced 10 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Tire rationing also had been effective since January 1942, and parts also were becoming scarce as disabled vehicles were melted down as part of the "Salvage for Victory" campaign.
The Lane Public Library joined the stay-at-home campaign by promoting "vacation at home books" throughout the month.
Local grocers featured outdoor cooking as an alternate to a travel vacation. Stores offered pork chops at 39 cents a pound, sirloin steak at 35 cents a pound, shrimp at 33 cents a pound and bratwurst at 32 cents a pound.
Restrictions on air travel had been ordered May 15, 1942, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said "almost anything that can fly is useful to the government." Approximately one half of all U. S. commercial planes were taken for war service. FDR urged civilians to eliminate pleasure trips on airlines.
Railroads were required to give seating and service preferences to men and women in the military and to some civilians in war-related jobs.
During the war, U. S. railroads carried about 43.7 million military personnel, or more than 97 percent of all troops moved between December 1941 and August 1945.
As many as 100,000 military personnel were on troop trains daily as railroads used a fourth of their coaches and half of all Pullman (sleeper) cars for troop transport. An average of more than 2,500 troop trains a month operated in the U. S.
The government ordered local and inter-city bus lines to revise schedules and reduce stops to conserve fuel.
Bus passes were revoked for off-duty policemen and firemen and Joseph Bowman, superintendent of the local system announced charter service would be restricted to war-related trips.
Daily milk delivery ceased to save tires and fuel. Monday, June 1, Hamilton dairies switched home deliveries to every other day and ended most Sunday service.
Hamilton was one of seven Ohio cities and 100 in the nation selected for a May 25, 1942, survey of inter-city travel. Questions included destination, frequency of the trip, its purpose and personal information.
Representatives of the Office of Defense Transportation queried travelers at the Ohio Bus Lines Terminal on High Street and at the city's two rail stations, the Pennsylvania on S. Seventh Street and the Baltimore & Ohio on S. Fifth Street.
Additional travel adjustments would be imposed during the remainder of the war, including gas rationing later in 1942.
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Journal-News, Monday, July 13, 1992
Mural Halstead pioneered in convention coverage
(This is first of three columns on Murat Halstead.)
By Jim Blount
Journalistic history was made in 1860 when a Butler County native penned the first day-to-day reports of seven national presidential nominating conventions.
The future of slavery, states rights, western expansion of the United States possibly into Cuba, homesteading and tariffs were all major issues at the conventions covered by young reporter Murat Halstead.
Born Sept. 2, 1829 in Ross Township, Halstead, had joined the Cincinnati Commercial as a $12-a-week reporter in March 1853. By January 1859 he had become editor of the newspaper which claimed the highest circulation in the Midwest.
Halstead's safety was a concern as the editor left Cincinnati April 16, via train, for Charleston, S. C., site of the Democratic Party's eighth nominating convention.
How would southerners react to a northern reporter from a paper supporting the anti-slavery Republican Party? Halstead arrived April 18, and was well received while he did some homework before the convention opened April 23.
By May 3, the Democrats, seeking a replacement for President James Buchanan, who had shunned re-election, were split over their platform and had voted 57 times without agreeing on a nominee.
Southerners left the meeting in protest of the platform and the convention adjourned with plans to resume in Baltimore June 18. Meanwhile, the disgruntled southern Democrats met briefly and prepared to meet June 11 in Richmond, Va.
During the next eight weeks, Halstead shuttled by train from Charleston to Baltimore to Chicago to Richmond and back to Baltimore covering six more conventions and telegraphing his accounts to Cincinnati.
At the Constitutional Union Party Convention May 9-10 in Baltimore, John Bell of Tennessee was chosen on the second ballot. His running mate was Edward Everett of Massachusetts.
The Republican Party in Chicago May 16-18 accorded the top spot to Illinois' Abraham Lincoln on the third vote with Maine's Hannibal Hamlin its vice presidential choice. Halstead's personal choice was William H. Seward of New York, who was the leader on the first OOP ballot.
The Southern Democrats, meeting June 11-12 in Richmond, with only a few delegates, adjourned without nominations.
The Northern Democratic Party Convention June 18-23 in Baltimore nominated Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois on the second ballot with Hershcel V. Johnson of Georgia as his running mate.
The National Democratic or Independent Democratic Party convention June 28, also in Baltimore, selected John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky as its presidential choice on the first ballot. The vice presidential nominee was Joseph Lane of Oregon.
The second Southern Democratic Party Convention in Baltimore June 28 also tapped the Breckenridge-Lane team.
"He received the great compliment of having his reports copied by many northern and midwestern newspapers, usually with full credit given to the author," noted Donald Curl, a Halstead biographer, in his 1980 book, Murat Halstead and the Cincinnati Commercial.
Before the election, Follett, Foster and Co. of Columbus published Halstead's convention coverage in a 233-page book entitled Caucuses of 1860. The collection was reprinted 100 years later by the Louisiana State University Press as Three Against Lincoln. Murat Halstead Reports the Caucuses of 1860, edited by William B. Hesseltine and Bruce Robertson.
The 1860 election result: Lincoln won 18 states and 180 electoral votes; Breckinridge carried 11 states with 72 votes; Bell prevailed in three states with 39 votes; and Douglas was favored in only two states with 12 electoral votes.
In April 1861, the national division peaked with the first shots of the Civil War, a four-year trauma which afforded more reporting opportunities for Murat Halstead.
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Journal-News, Monday, July 20, 1992
Report on hanging of John Brown boosted career of Murat Halstead
(This is second of three columns on Murat Halstead.)
By Jim Blount
Murat Halstead, born Sept. 2, 1829, in Ross Township, was a prolific writer and editor, whose work was read and heeded by national officeholders and political leaders as well as voters in the last half of the 19th century.
The "Sage of Paddy's Run" was a contemporary and equal of journalists Joseph Pulitzer, Horace Greeley, Joseph Medill, Henry Watterson, Horace White, Samuel Bowles and Whitelaw Reid.
Halstead, who wrote at least 3,000 words a day, wasn't content to write about national issues and candidates. The controversial editor was also personally involved in politics, especially within the ranks of the Republican Party.
His mother, Clarissa Willits Halstead, was his first teacher She used Hamilton newspapers to teach her son to read and write. Later he was a student at the Rev. B. W. Childlaw's school in New London (now Shandon) and attended a common school in the area.
In his youth he worked on the family farm and served as a teacher before entering Farmers' College which was located in the present College Hill suburb of Cincinnati. At Farmers' College, Halstead's influential professor of history and political economy was Robert Hamilton Bishop, Miami University's first president.
By this time Halstead was contributing to weekly newspapers in Hamilton and Rossville. After graduation in 1851, he studied law before accepting his first newspaper job in 1852. He was paid $5 a week as exchange editor of the Atlas, one of 10 daily newspapers in Cincinnati. Later he was assistant editor of the Colombian and Great West, a literary weekly.
March 8, 1853, Halstead joined the city's leading daily, the Cincinnati Commercial. He soon was writing editorials, many expressing the paper's anti-slavery sentiment, a position which aligned the Commercial with the newly-formed Republican Party.
An event the night of Oct. 16, 1559, at Harpers Ferry. Va.. had a major impact on Halstead's career. John Brown attempted to take over the federal arsenal with plans to distribute the arms to southern slaves to enable them to revolt. The raid failed, and the 59-year-old abolitionist was tried, found guilty of treason and ordered to be hanged at Charles Town.
Halstead, unwelcome in Virginia as editor of a northern, anti-slavery paper, overcame several obstacles to witness the Dec. 2, 1859, execution, which he described this way:
"There was a moment of intense stillness, a sudden movement, a sharp twang of the rope, a creaking of the hinges of the trap door, and at fourteen and one-half minutes after 11 the old man, indomitable to the last, swung between the sky and the soil of the Old Dominion. As he dropped, he turned sharply round and faced north."
His report, which was reprinted in many northern papers, exemplified his journalistic philosophy that readers deserved rapid, accurate, detailed, eyewitness reportage of major events.
The 1860 election and the Civil War (1861-1565) gave Halstead many opportunities to practice that creed and brought the Butler County native and his newspaper into national prominence and influence.
"A much respected political reporter, Halstead attended every Republican national convention from the first in 1856 through that of 1904, and many of the Democratic conventions during those years," observed a biographer, Donald Curl.
"In 1860 he became the only correspondent to report all of the many national party conventions."
"As a close personal friend of Presidents Rutherford B. Haves and Benjamin Harrison, he was often consulted on public and political policy," Curl said. "Moreover, Halstead knew every American politician of national importance."
Next week's column will include more on Halstead's distinguished career.
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Journal-News, Monday, July 27, 1992
Halstead wielded political power after the Civil War
(This is last of three columns on Murat Halstead.)
By Jim Blount
During the first months following the start of the Civil War in 1861, Murat Halstead established a reputation as a hard-hitting reporter, starting with reports critical of the supplies for Ohio troops.
The Butler County native, reporting from Washington, also found Secretary of War Simon Cameron to be lacking. Halstead said "Cameron attends to the stealing department."
"No one ever suspected Cameron of honesty, but there were hopes that he had business capacity," Halstead wrote. "In truth, however, he is very incompetent."
Later in 1861. Halstead's paper blasted Gen. William T. Sherman, commander of forces in Kentucky. "General Sherman Insane," declared a Cincinnati Commercial headline, causing Sherman to ask to be relieved of command. Sherman later returned to command and became one of the North's heroes.
Although he supported the election of Abraham Lincoln, Halstead didn't hesitate to criticize the president or management of the war. By the war's end in 1865, the Commercial was regarded as Ohio's leading newspaper and Halstead was a power in local, state and national affairs.
He started to acquire an interest in the Commercial in the 1850s and in April 1866 he became its principal owner. In 1882 he acquired the Gazette and merged the newspapers, forming the Commercial Gazette.
The native of Ross Township made trips abroad in 1870 for a vacation which included coverage of the Franco-Prussian War. But it was U. S. politics which attracted his attention after the Civil War.
Halstead helped form and steer the Liberal Republican Party in 1872. The party was a collection of Republicans and some Democrats who had become disenchanted with president Ulysses S. Grant, the hero of the Civil War, who had been elected in 1868.
Thanks to Halstead's national prominence, Cincinnati was chosen as the site of the May 1-4, 1872, Liberal Republican national convention, which nominated Horace Greeley of New York for president and Benjamin Gratz Brown of Missouri for vice president. (Greeley and Brown also were the nominees of the Democratic Party at its July 9-10 convention in Baltimore.)
Greeley, who had founded the New York Tribune in 1841 and had helped to form the Republican Party in 1854, had been endorsed as a presidential candidate a year earlier by Halstead. But Cincinnati was the only large city that Greeley carried as Grant won re-election with a plurality of almost 800,000 votes.
In 1876, Halstead was again supporting the Republican Party and saw a friend, fellow Ohioan Rutherford B. Hayes, sent to the White House in a disputed election.
Halstead was appointed minister to Germany by President Benjamin Harrison in 1889, but the U. S. Senate refused to confirm the editor, some of its members getting even for corruption charges Halstead had made against them.
In February 1890, Halstead left Cincinnati to become a columnist for Cosmopolitan Magazine in New York. In April he was named editor of the Brooklyn Standard-Union.
The moves reflected Halstead's losing battle with John R. McLean, owner of the rival Cincinnati Enquirer, who eventually gained control of the Commercial Gazette in 1896.
In 1892 Halstead became a free-lance writer, and in 1896 was hired by William Randolph Hearst and sent to Cuba in advance of the Spanish-American War. As a war correspondent, he accompanied U. S. forces to the Philippines in 1898 and lectured on the islands upon his return.
As an author, his several books had sold more than a million copies by 1901. Halstead -- an inaugural inductee into the Ohio Journalism Hall of Fame -- died July 2, 1908, at age 79.
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