Journal-News, Monday, Nov. 2,1992
Presidential voters traditionally stand by their man
By Jim Blount
A Bill Clinton victory over President George Bush in Butler County Tuesday would be a reversal seen only once here in the last 33 presidential elections. Bush collected 68.2 percent of the county votes four years ago — a victory margin second only to Ronald Reagan's 1984 triumph.
Only once has the majority of Butler County voters voted against a candidate it supported in a previous local election.
That reversal was in 1932 when Herbert Hoover lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt, 21,944 to 19,412, four years after he beat Alfred E. Smith, 29,124 to 15,663 — a 33 percent drop.
Since 1856 — the first time it was a Republican versus a Democrat — voters in Butler County have favored the Democrat candidate 22 times in 33 presidential elections.
Although Republicans trail by a 2-1 margin over a 132-year period, it has been lopsided in favor of the GOP since the Korean War era.
Republican candidates have carried Butler County in nine out of 10 presidential contests since then. The only Democrat winner during that time was Lyndon B. Johnson who defeated the GOP's Barry Goldwater in 1964.
In recent decades, local voters have supported Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956; Richard Nixon in 1960, 1968 and 1972; Gerald Ford in 1976; Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984; and George Bush in 1988. All were national winners except Nixon, who lost to John F. Kennedy in 1960, and Ford, who yielded the White House to Jimmy Carter in 1976.
In 1856, when John C. Fremont was the first Republican presidential candidate, the local winner was James Buchanan (3,508 to 2,301). That was the first of 17 consecutive Democrat victories in county presidential elections.
During that 72-year span, Butler County choices have been opposite the national voting 12 times, starting in 1860 when Stephen Douglas was favored here over Abraham Lincoln and in 1864 when George B. McClellan won over Lincoln.
Other national winners who were defeated in Butler County were Ulysses S. Grant in 1868 and 1872; Rutherford B. Haves in 1876; James A. Garfield in 1880; Benjamin Harrison in 1888; William McKinley in 1896 and 1900; Theodore Roosevelt in 1904; William Howard Taft in 1908; and Warren G. Harding in 1920.
Democrats who captured both Butler County and the nation during that period were Grover Cleveland in 1884 and 1892, and Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and 1920.
The first Republican victor in the county was Calvin Coolidge, who was challenged in 1924 by John W. Davis. The GOP won again here in 1928 when Hoover topped Smith.
Then Democrats won five straight times, including FDR four times (1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944) and Harry Truman in 1948.
According to the percentages, Reagan recorded the widest margin in 1984 when he carried 72.9 percent of the county vote. He had 76,181 votes to 27,493 for Walter Mondale. Reagan had 61.9 percent of the vote in 1980 when he ousted Carter from the presidency.
Other lopsided county wins were: Bush's 68.2 percent in 1988; Nixon's 68.9 percent in 1972 in clobbering George McGovern; Hoover's 64.7 percent in 1928; Eisenhower's 63.2 percent in 1956 in beating Adlai Stevenson; and 63.2 percent by Samuel J. Tilden, a Democrat from New York, who faced Rutherford Hayes, an Ohioan, in the disputed 1876 election.
The closest county election was in 1904 when Democrat Alton B. Parker edged Theodore Roosevelt by 349 votes, 7,397 to 7,048.
The second closest local contest involved James M. Cox, a Butler County native, in his losing effort in 1920 against another Ohioan, Warren G. Harding. Cox, born in Jacksonburg, won here by 1,552 votes (16,479 to 14,927).
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Journal-News, Monday, Nov. 9, 1992
Convoy route targeted by Indians in 1790s
By Jim Blount
There was uneasiness among the few soldiers at Fort Hamilton in November 1792 because of recent Indian actions near the frontier stockade.
Fewer than 700 troops were scattered over the Ohio-Indiana frontier, where an Indian coalition led by the Miami and Shawnee had stymied experienced U. S. commanders.
Armies led by Gen. Josiah Harmar in 1790 and Gen. Arthur St. Clair in 1791 had suffered embarrassing defeats at the hands of Indians led by Little Turtle, a Miami chief.
St. Clair's army completed construction of Fort Hamilton Sept. 30, 1791, before suffering the worst defeat ever administered an American Army less than two months later Nov. 4, 1791.
The 54-mile trip between Fort Hamilton and Fort Jefferson was too long for packhorse convoys. To reduce the risks, an interim post was ordered near what today is the city of Eaton in Preble County.
Fort St. Clair, completed in March 1792, was a 120-foot square stockade located approximately 24 miles north of Fort Hamilton — a normal day's journey for a packhorse train, A 1792 convoy could make a complete round trip from Fort Washington traveling to Fort Hamilton, Fort St. Clair and Fort Jefferson in six days, camping each night near the near the walls of one of the forts.
Fort St. Clair had a key role in the alarming events of November 1792 when Little Turtle executed his new strategy of hitting the U. . Army's extended supply line.
The scenario started Nov. 3, 1792, when three soldiers were captured within 400 yards of Fort Hamilton. From the prisoners, the Indians learned that a packhorse convoy was heading south.
Little Turtle planned to ambush the group midway between Fort Hamilton and Fort St. Clair, but moved north when the train failed to appear when expected.
Shortly before dawn Nov. 6, Little Turtle's 250-men force struck within yards of Fort St. Clair as they attacked from three sides the 100 mounted Kentucky militia.
The surprised Kentuckians —- which included Joel Collins, who later was a pioneer resident of Oxford — counterattacked. They lost about 100 horses to the Indians before seeking safety at Fort St. Clair. The Army reported six men killed, five wounded and four missing.
Commanding the Kentuckians was Major John Adair (1757-1840), who was leader in the new state of Kentucky and later would become the eighth governor of the commonwealth.
The native of Chester County, S. C., had seen military service in the American Revolution, and had been a member of the South Carolina convention which ratified the U.S. Constitution May 12, 1788.
While Major Adair was involved in frontier Indian wars from 1791- 1793, he also served as a member of the Kentucky Constitutional Convention in 1792 when it became the 15th state.
He represented Mercer County for nine terms in the state legislature between 1793-1817 and was speaker of the house from 1801-1803.
Adair served in the U. S. Senate in 1805-1806, filling a vacancy, but resigned Nov. 18, 1806, when he failed to win re-election, a loss blamed on friendship with Aaron Burr.
He returned to Congress in March 1831 as a member of the U. S. House of Representatives, but didn't seek re-election.
His frontier military experience — which included periodic stops at Fort Hamilton — was an apprenticeship for distinguished service 20 years later during the War of 1812. At the end of the war, Brigadier-Generai Adair commanded a 1,100-man Kentucky rifle brigade in the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815.
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Journal-News, Monday. Nov. 16, 1992
Boston disaster overshadowed start of coffee rationing in 1942
By Jim Blount
Coffee was added to the World War II rationing list in November 1942, a month with its share of good and bad news.
The start of coffee rationing was overshadowed by a home front disaster — the death of 492 people the night of Nov. 28-29 in a fire in the Coconut Grove Night Club. Several servicemen were victims in the Boston tragedy.
The government had ordered coffee sales frozen Saturday, Nov. 21, meaning there was no coffee sold in local stores until the start of rationing at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 29.
Then, each person over 15 years of age was allowed to buy one pound of coffee every live weeks — which was supposed to be an average of one cup a day.
As rationing began, coffee was priced 41-51 cents for two-pound bags at the A&P Store and 21-29 cents for one-pound packages at Kroger.
Soon local grocers were advertising '"Victory Coffee Stretcher" at 14 cents a pound to supplement the rationed item. "Many housewives have found it practical to mix one pound of stretcher with a pound of their favorite coffee to make it go twice as far," explained an ad in the Journal-News.
Rationing was imposed despite record exports by South American coffee producers during the war years. Their efforts were partially offset by increased coffee consumption among U. S. civilians and members of the armed services.
But supply and demand was only one factor in the government's decision to take the unpopular action. The major reason was to divert ships to transport essential war materials instead of consumer goods.
"'Patriots learned to drink their coffee black — or with only one teaspoon of sugar, which was also rationed" observed World War II historians Norman Polmar and Thomas E. Allen.
Sugar was the only other food item rationed at that time. Sales temporarily stopped at midnight April 27, 1942, and after a seven-day wait, sugar rationing began May 4.
Later, the government also would include coffee when it ordered price regulations for restaurants. Effective July 31, 1944, the maximum charge for a cup of coffee, including sugar and cream, was five cents.
Economist John Kenneth Galbraith, an OPA assistant in 1942, believed the coffee rationing edict was so unpopular that it had an impact on the off-year election in the Midwest, one in which Republicans took offices away from Democrats.
In his memoirs, Galbraith said "Scandinavian and German voters, among whom coffee use reaches addiction, were thought to have voted their indignation" over coffee rationing.
Several war events shared headlines with the coffee restrictions in November and early December 1942.
Operation Torch had started Nov. 8 with British and American troops, commanded by Lt. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, landing at three points -- near Casablanca, Oran and Algiers — along the coast of North Africa.
Meanwhile, in the Pacific theater, fighting continued on Guadalcanal, which had been invaded by U. S. troops Aug. 7. Victory would come Dec. 31, 1942, when the Japanese forces started to evacuate Guadalcanal.
Nov. 22, a week before coffee rationing started, Soviet troops had completed the encirclement of the German Sixth Army in Stalingrad.
On the negative side of the news, on Nov. 12 Congress had approved the drafting of 18 and 19-year-olds.
In the first week of December 1942, the Office of War Information reported that U. S. losses in the first year of World War II totaled 58,307 killed, wounded, captured and missing.
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Journal-News, Monday, Nov. 23, 1992
Gasoline rationing put brakes on driving in 1942
By Jim Blount
Local gasoline dealers experienced the best of times and the worst of times within a few days in November and December 1942.
Gas rationing and a 35-mph speed limit — which had been imposed in some states in May — started here in December 1942.
It had been scheduled to begin Nov. 22, but was delayed nine days — until 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1 — because the government needed extra time to print rationing books and complete other details.
Nov. 28-30 service stations in Butler County reported a brisk business as motorists filled their tanks before most of them would be limited to only 16 gallons of gas a month.
Attendants reported some drivers lifted the rear bumpers of their vehicles to permit an extra pint or two to be pumped into their tanks in the last-minute rush.
Driving had been restricted since Jan. 10, 1942, when tire rationing went into effect for more than 31,200 car owners and more than 2,200 truck operators in Butler County.
Dec. 17, 1941 — 10 days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — the government had announced a freeze on car sales until the war ended. Since Jan. 1, 1942, government approval had been required for the purchase of a new car.
Tire rationing had been initiated to conserve rubber for war purposes, but that effort wasn't enough.
In September. Time magazine reported that a presidential panel, headed by Bernard M. Baruch, James B. Conant and Karl Compton, "in 37 days had gone to the bottom of the rubber mess to get the ugly facts of wartime life."
The panel said "we find the existing situation to be so dangerous that unless corrective measures are taken immediately, this country will face both military and civilian collapse."
It recommended nationwide gas rationing and a national speed limit of 35 miles an hour to force a reduction in tire use. The panel also urged that the nation's synthetic rubber program be "pushed forward with all possible speed."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized gas rationing Nov. 26, ordering it to start six days later because "our military requirements for rubber have been greater, not smaller."
Some critics, such as Sen. Arthur H. Vandenberg, a Michigan Republican, believed gas rationing was "premature and inadvisable in view of the fact that alternative methods of conserving rubber had not been thoroughly explored."
In mid-November applications for gas rationing materials were taken at schools in Butler County. Later, vehicle owners were issued a book of ration stamps and a matching window sticker for their cars and trucks.
The government said rations would be denied "if you or anyone in your household owns any passenger tires (including scrap tires) not mounted on motor vehicles or equipment." Spares and worn tires were to be sold or given to the government.
Under the prescribed system, attendants were supposed to check the window sticker to be sure it matched the ration book before removing the correct number of stamps and pumping the gas.
An "A" sticker provided the lowest allotment for passenger cars. A government pamphlet said "The A ration is designed to provide an average of 240 miles per month; of this 150 miles is for occupational use and 90 miles is for family convenience. This is based on an average of 15 miles per gallon."
The C sticker was for those driving "essential passenger cars . . . more than 470 miles a month for occupational purposes." Among those eligible for C stickers were doctors, nurses, the clergy, police and fire employees. government workers and those involved in delivery services.
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Journal-News, Monday, Nov. 30. 1992
Gas coupons worth more than gold to motorists
By Jim Blount
Owners of 9,913 cars and 26 motorcycles in Hamilton registered for basic "A" gas coupons in November 1942 as the nation faced gas rationing "for the duration" of World War II.
Starting Tuesday, Dec. 1, 1942, those with the lowest priority were limited to 16 gallons a month, which was supposed to be enough to drive 240 miles at 15 miles per gallon.
Earlier in 1942, the government began asking civilians "Is Your Trip Necessary?" on posters and via public service advertisements and announcements.
In January 1943, a month after rationing began, Hamilton police reported traffic on city streets had dropped 50 percent while Hamilton City Lines officials noted average daily bus ridership had increased about 2,000.
In November 1942, bus companies also had taken steps to conserve fuel. Hamilton City Lines announced the elimination of 70 stops in the city and Ohio Bus Lines said its coaches would no longer stop at two downtown locations on Hamilton-Cincinnati runs.
"Unless you're a war worker, travel between 10 a.m. 'and 3 p.m.," suggested the Hamilton bus company, noting that "our buses are filled to capacity during many periods of the day." It also asked its riders to "do more walking."
Downtown merchants contributed by changing store hours, operating noon to 8:30 p.m. Mondays and 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Some residents adjusted by forming what the government called "Victory Car Clubs or car pools. The Office of Price Administration ordered companies with more than 100 workers to organize transportation committees to encourage sharing programs
Drivers soon discovered that having enough ration stamps didn't assure them of gasoline. Some stations closed, anticipating a business slump. For example, at noon Dec. 1, one usually-busy Hamilton station reported no customers in the first 12 hours of rationing. Jan. 21, 1943, the government announced that stations were limited to 72 hours of operation a week, or 12 hours a day — a move aimed at cutting costs while income was limited.
A few drivers had problems because they didn't balance consumption with the effective dates of their gas coupons. A Jan. 15, 1943, newspaper said some local drivers had used all the fuel obtained with coupon No. 3, which was good until Jan. 21. Coupon No. 4 couldn't be used until Jan. 22.
Traffic violations also could cost ration coupons, especially exceeding the 36-mph limit. The Hamilton ration board announced in August 1943 that gas rations were being suspended for convicted speeders.
A local motorist, convicted of driving 45 miles an hour on a state highway, lost the equivalent of 10 days of gas rations. A motorcyclist, convicted of doing 65, lost his gas ration book for 600 days.
Paperwork and documentation also caused problems for some vehicle owners, including the village of Seven Mile. Tanks on village fire trucks had been filled with gas before rationing started. But six weeks later, village officials faced legal obstacles when they tried to obtain fuel.
The village had been denied ration coupons because it couldn't find the titles for its two 20-year-old fire trucks.
The problem was resolved when the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Columbus discovered that under Ohio law in effect 20 years earlier, fire trucks were not classified as motor vehicles and certificates of title had not been issued.
In July 1942, OPA notified school officials that buses operating on tires obtained through the rationing program could be used only to transport pupils to and from schools. Only buses on pre-war tires could be used for bands, athletic teams, field trips and other purposes.
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