Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2004
'Wild fire' slavery debate nearly consumed Miami University
(This column is the fifth in a series on the slavery issue and the Underground Railroad in Butler County in conjunction with the opening of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati).
By Jim Blount
Removing Robert Hamilton Bishop as president of Miami University didn't end the slavery debate at the Oxford school. The differences among faculty and trustees continued during the short reign of the Rev. George Junkin, who assumed direction of Miami in 1841. Bishop and Junkin were both Presbyterian ministers -- as were five succeeding Miami presidents until 1873 -- but they were at opposite poles on the slavery question.
James H. Rodabaugh, a Bishop biographer and Miami historian, emphasized their differences in his writings in the 1930s and 1940s. He said Bishop "wished to see the church declare slavery a sin" and believed "that the problem of abolition was an educational one, and it was therefore the responsibility of the church through its ministers to teach some means of abolishing slavery."
"In 1843, Junkin delivered in Hamilton, Ohio, an eight-hour address on the Biblical justification of slavery," Rodabaugh wrote. "In this he declared that one of the reasons why he had been called to Miami was to put an end to the anti-slavery activities ruining that institution."
During the speech, Junkin said "it was early impressed upon my mind that this brand [abolitionism] had already kindled up a fire which had well nigh consumed Miami University. To such a ruinous degree did the fire burn within her bosom that the trustees took up the subject and passed strong resolutions condemnatory of this wild fire."
Those weren't the words of a southerner raised on a plantation where slaves did the hard and dirty work. Junkin's parents weren't land-rich aristocrats in a southern state. Miami's second president was born in 1790 in Cumberland County, near Carlisle, Pa., and raised on the family farm where he and his 13 siblings did much of the work.
He was graduated from Jefferson College (later Washington & Jefferson) at Washington, Pa., in 1813, and studied at the Theological Seminary of the Associate Reformed Church in New York City. As a Presbyterian minister, Junkin served churches in Milton and McEwenville, Pa., for 11 years. He also did missionary work in Philadelphia where he formed a temperance society.
In 1830 Junkin became principal of an academy in Germantown, Pa. Two years later he was named the first president of Lafayette College at Easton, Pa., where he remained until Miami trustees lured him to Oxford in 1841.
The majority of Miami trustees had disagreed with Bishop's anti-slavery views, but they couldn't argue with the university's success under his direction from 1824 until his forced resignation in 1841.
"In 1839 Old Miami reached its peak enrollment -- 250 students from 13 states," wrote Walter Havighurst, also a Miami historian. "Larger than Princeton and Columbia, it was surpassed in enrollment by only three American Universities: Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth. Its alumni had already made the college famous, and the seven-man faculty augmented by 10 lecturers and tutors, was the strongest teaching staff in the West."
Because of Junkin's tough discipline, Rodabaugh said, "the students rose up against him, the number in attendance began to decrease and agitation was soon set on foot in the community and among the alumni demanding his removal."
Junkin resigned in 1845 and returned to the presidency of Lafayette until 1848. That year he took the same post at Washington College (later Washington & Lee) in Lexington, Va., where his pro-slavery views were welcomed.
In August 1853, Junkin's fourth daughter, Eleanor, married an 1846 West Point graduate and Mexican War veteran who in 1851 had become a member of the faculty at the Virginia Military Institute, also in Lexington. She and her son died during child birth Oct. 22, 1854. The widower resided with Dr. Junkin until he married again in 1856. He was Thomas Jonathan Jackson, a Virginia native, better known as Gen. Stonewall Jackson while leading Confederate armies during the Civil War.
Junkin's first daughter, Margaret, married in 1857. Her husband also became a Confederate officer, Colonel John T. L. Preston.
Rev. Junkin's life took an unexpected turn in April 1861 when the Civil War began. He resigned as president of Washington College because he opposed Virginia secession. At age 71 he returned to Philadelphia, but not to retirement. During the four-year Civil War he resumed his ministry, preaching and aiding Union troops in camps and hospitals.
Miami's controversial second president died in Philadelphia May 20, 1868, about two and half years after ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. That amendment declared that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
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Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2004
Slave colonization had some support in Butler County
(This column is the sixth in a series on the slavery issue and the Underground Railroad in Butler County in conjunction with the opening of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati).
By Jim Blount
Sending slaves back to Africa was a proposal for resolving the simmering slavery debate in the United States in the early 1800s. The idea had some support in Butler County, where slavery had never been legal. Slavery had been prohibited by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the federal document that prescribed the steps to statehood for the territory that became Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota.
Supporters of colonization believed deporting slaves was a sensible alternative to emancipation. The purpose of the American Colonization Society, organized in 1817, was to relocate free African-Americans to Africa. The ACS in 1822 formed a colony on the west coast of Africa. In 1847 it became Liberia, an independent nation.
In Hamilton "in the early 1820s an interest was shown in the Colonization Society, the organization sponsored by Henry Clay, idol of Hamilton Whigs," wrote Alta Harvey Heiser in her 1941 book, Hamilton in the Making. "Henry Clay was a true southern gentleman and slave owner," Mrs. Heiser said. "He felt something was wrong with the system, but did not believe in freeing slaves to give them a place in American life."
In her book, she noted the annual meeting of the Auxiliary Colonization Society of Hamilton and Rossville at the Butler County Courthouse in August 1832.
"Dr. [David] MacDill was president; Dr. Daniel Millikin, vice president; James Boal, treasurer; John Woods, secretary." Mrs. Heiser wrote. "Thomas Lynch, law student and nephew of John Woods, addressed the meeting, which endorsed Thomas Corwin as delegate to the annual meeting in Washington City. William C. Woods frequently addressed the local society during the next few years. Money was subscribed. Thus early was the slavery question agitated in Hamilton."
Rev. MacDill -- a South Carolina native -- was a graduate of Transylvania University, Lexington, Ky., and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in New York. He came to Butler County in 1817, preaching at both the Associate Reformed Presbyterian (United Presbyterian) Church in Hamilton and at the Concord meeting house, about eight miles north of Hamilton near Collinsville. During his 40 years here, he was a trustee of Miami University for 24 years, 1824-1849. He moved his family to Sparta, Ill., in 1848.
Henry Clay -- a senator and representative from Kentucky most of the time from 1806 until his death in 1852 -- helped start the ACS and was its president for 26 years. Clay -- who owned slaves on his Ashland farm in Lexington, Ky. -- led the ACS campaign to secure federal funding to send black colonists to Liberia. Congress never accepted the plan, but some states provided financial aid.
There was a range of opinions on colonization. Black and white supporters believed sending blacks to Africa would be a humane action, freeing them of the racial discrimination they faced in the U. S. Others saw the transplants as leading the Christianizing and civilizing of Africa.
Some opponents said African-Americans should stay in the U. S., continue the fight to end slavery and seek full rights as citizens. Other foes saw colonization as a tool of slave owners because it didn't attack the problem of freeing those held in bondage in the South. It applied only to free blacks.
"By 1857, after an existence of 40 years, the Colonization Society had sent to Africa 9,502 emigrants, of whom 3,676 were free-born, 326 self-purchased and 5,500 emancipated on condition of being transported," wrote Wilbur H. Siebert in his 1898 book, The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom.
By the 1830s, abolitionists -- those who demanded an end to slavery in the South without conditions -- were among the harshest critics of the colonization movement.
Colonization and the Underground Railroad aren't mentioned in Stephen D. Cone's two volumes of Biographical and Historical Sketches, A Narrative of Hamilton and Its Residents, 1792-1896, published in 1896.
In his only reference to the slavery issue, Cone listed Butler County delegates to a Feb. 23, 1840, abolitionist convention in Columbus. Familiar Hamiltonians among the delegates were John Woods, John M. Millikin, James Rossman, Lewis D. Campbell, John McLean, Joseph G. Stillwell, Ezra Potter and Joseph Howells. Earlier, John Woods had been secretary of the Colonization Society of Hamilton and Rossville.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2004
Democrats won 17 straight county presidential votes
(This is the first of three columns on the history of presidential elections in Butler County.)
By Jim Blount
It has been Democrat versus Republican as the major candidates in presidential contests since 1856. Butler County voters have favored the Democrat 23 times in those 37 elections. But in 14 votes since the end of World War II, Republican presidential candidates have won the county 12 times. It has been 40 years since a Democrat carried the area.
Democrats dominated Butler County in 17 consecutive campaigns from 1856 through 1920, but captured the White House only five times during that span. The winners were James Buchanan in 1856, Grover Cleveland in 1884 and 1892 and Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and 1916.
In seven straight presidential contests from 1868 through 1892, Democrat candidates won 60 percent or more of the votes cast in the county, topped by 64.3 percent for Cleveland in 1888 and Samuel B. Tilden’s 64.2 percent in 1876.
In Cleveland’s lopsided local win in 1888 his opponent was Benjamin Harrison, an 1852 graduate of Miami University. Cleveland also won the popular vote nationwide, but Harrison earned a four-year term in Washington with victory in the electoral college.
Cleveland, who carried Butler County three times, garnered 63.5 percent of the local ballots in 1892 despite facing a "Miami ticket." Harrison’s 1892 running mate was Whitelaw Reid, who had graduated from Miami University in 1856.
Democrat William Jenninigs Bryan also was a three-time county winner (1896, 1900 and 1908), but never won a national election.
Ohio roots didn’t sway the Butler County electorate between 1868 and 1912. Ten times in 12 elections over those years, the Republican candidate was an Ohio native -- Ulysses S. Grant in 1868 and 1872; Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876; James A. Garfield in 1880; Benjamin Harrison in 1888 and 1892; William McKinley in 1896 and 1900; and William Howard Taft in 1908 and 1912. All won nationally except Harrison in 1892 and Taft in 1912.
The string of local setbacks for Ohio candidates ended in 1920 when Democrat James M. Cox challenged Republican Warren G. Harding. Both were Ohioans -- Harding a native of Corsica and a resident of Marion in 1920; Cox born in Jacksonburg and a Dayton resident before being elected governor of Ohio.
Cox carried his native Butler County, taking 52.5 percent of the votes, but Harding won the national competition. Cox was the last of 17 straight Democratic candidates to win Butler County presidential voting.
Here are summaries of the Butler County elections from 1856 through 1920 with asterisks (*) indicating the national winners:
1856 -- *James Buchanan (Democrat) 57.5% over John C. Fremont (Republican); and Millard Fillmore (American).
1860 -- Stephen A. Douglas (D) 56.2%; over *Abraham Lincoln (R) 39.2%; John Bell (Constitutional Union); John C. Breckenridge (Southern Democrat).
1864 -- George B. McClellan (D) 58.6%;over *Abraham Lincoln (R).
1868 -- Horatio Seymour (D) 60.0%; over *Ulysses S. Grant (R).
1872 -- Horace Greeley (D) 62.5%; over *Ulysses S. Grant (R).
1876 -- Samuel J. Tilden (D) 64.2%; over *Rutherford B. Hayes (R).
1880 -- Winfield Scott Hancock (D) 62.1%; over *James A. Garfield (R).
1884 -- *Grover Cleveland (D) 62.3%; over James G. Blaine (R).
1888 -- Grover Cleveland (D) 64.3%; over *Benjamin Harrison (R).
1892 -- *Grover Cleveland (D) 63.5%; over Benjamin Harrison (R).
1896 -- William Jennings Bryan (D) 59.4%; over *William McKinley (R).
1900 -- William Jennings Bryan (D) 59.6%; over *William McKinley (R).
1904 -- Alton B. Parker (D) 51.2%; over *Theodore Roosevelt (R).
1908 -- William Jennings Bryan (D) 57.4%; over *William Howard Taft (R).
1912 -- *Woodrow Wilson (D) 46.6%; over Eugene V. Debs (Socialist) 21%; William Howard Taft (R) 20.6%; and Theodore Roosevelt (Progressive) 10.7%.
1916 -- *Woodrow Wilson (D) 58.5%; over Charles E. Hughes (R).
1920 -- James M. Cox (D) 52.5%; over *Warren G. Harding (R).
Next week this column will review Butler County presidential voting from 1924 through 2000.
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Journal-News, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2004
Republicans dominate recent county presidential voting
(This is the second of three columns on the history of presidential elections in Butler County. The previous column covered the 1856-1920 period.)
By Jim Blount
Democrat candidates have won Butler County in 23 of 37 presidential elections since 1856, but the party's last local victory was 40 years ago. Since Democrat Harry Truman's 1948 win, Republican presidential candidates have carried the county 12 out of 13 times, including nine in a row. The last Democrat victor was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
The first GOP presidential candidate to capture Butler County was Calvin Coolidge in 1924, ending 17 straight local victories for Democrats since the two parties became dominant in 1856.
Herbert Hoover made it two in a row for Republicans in 1928. But Hoover also is the only candidate to win the county in one election and lose it in the next. Hoover's local support went from 64.7 percent in 1928 to 24.9 percent in 1932.
Hoover lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who captured Butler County majorities four times (1932, 1936, 1940 and 1944). Roosevelt died in 1945 before completing his fourth term and was succeeded by his vice president, Harry Truman.
When Truman defeated Thomas E. Dewey in 1948, it appeared that the Coolidge and Hoover triumphs in the 1920s had been a temporary interruption to Democrat domination of the county.
But six times in the next 13 elections, Republican candidates amassed more than 60 percent of the county vote, starting with 63.2 percent for Dwight D. Eisenhower who won re-election in 1956.
The county favored Richard M. Nixon three times (1960, 1968 and 1972), including a 68.5 percent response in 1972.
Ronald Reagan collected 61.9 percent of the county vote in 1980, and an all-time high of 73.2 percent in 1984. George H. W. Bush had 68.5 percent of the county turnout in 1988, but dropped to 48.5 percent in 1922, but still topped Bill Clinton with 30.6 percent and third-party candidate Ross Perot with 21 percent.
In 2000, George W. Bush took 63.3 percent of the county vote. That year, 138,992 (64.27 percent) of 216,275 registered voters cast ballots.
Here are the summaries of the Butler County elections from 1924 through 2000 with asterisks (*) indicating the national winners:
1924 -- *Calvin Coolidge (R) 54.7%; over John W. Davis (D) and Robert M. LaFollette (Progressive).
1928 -- *Herbert Hoover (R) 64.7%; over Alfred E. Smith (D).
1932 -- *Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) 53.1%; over Herbert Hoover (R).
1936 -- *Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) 60.1%; over Alfred M. Landon (R).
1940 -- *Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) 56.9%; over Wendell L. Willke (R).
1944 -- *Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) 54.0%; over Thomas E. Dewey (R).
1948 -- *Harry Truman (D) 52.9%; over Thomas E. Dewey (R).
1952 -- *Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) 53.6%; over Adlai Stevenson (D).
1956 -- *Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) 63.2%; over Adlai Stevenson (D).
1960 -- Richard M. Nixon (R) 58.7%; over *John F. Kennedy (D).
1964 -- *Lyndon B. Johnson (D) 57.3%; over Barry Goldwater (R).
1968 -- *Richard M. Nixon (R) 48.7%; over Hubert Humphret (D) and George Wallace (AIP).
1972 -- *Richard M. Nixon (R) 68.5%; over George McGovern (D).
1976 -- Gerald R. Ford (R) 57.6%; over *Jimmy Carter (D).
1980 -- *Ronald Reagan (R) 61.9%; over Jimmy Carter (D); and John B. Anderson (I).
1984 -- *Ronald Reagan (R) 73.2%; over Walter Mondale (D).
1988 -- *George Bush (R) 68.5%; over Michael S. Dukakis (D).
1992 -- George Bush (R) 48.5%; over *Bill Clinton (D); and Ross Perot (Reform).
1996 -- Bob Dole (R) 54.9%; *Bill Clinton (D); and Ross Perot (Reform).
2000 -- *George W. Bush (R) 63.32%; over Al Gore (D); Ralph Nader (G); and Pat Buchanan (Ref).