Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2008
Hamilton machinery helped boost farm output
By Jim Blount
Thanks to the inventiveness of Cyrus H. McCormick, Obed Hussey, John Deere and others, in 1890 it took an American farmer about 40 to 50 hours to produce 100 bushels of wheat from five acres. Sixty years earlier, without machinery, it had required 250 to 300 hours to realize the same yield.
Several Hamilton companies contributed to the improvement. Five shops were selling a range of farm machinery in 1891 when Hamilton observed its centennial.
The efforts of P. Burns & Co., Ritchie and Dyer Co., H. P. Deuscher Co., Hughes Manufacturing Co. and Long & Allstatter Co. were described in a book published for the centennial. Unfortunately, the accounts don't indicate employment totals for the respective factories.
P. Burns & Co. produced plows and wagons "in the new shop on Water Street [now Monument], near Market," said the 1891 history. It said wagons "are sold only in the immediate neighborhood" and steel plows, "made of about every variety of pattern," are sold "in the various sections of the country."
Patrick Burns, who had been building wagons since 1849, had several partners as the business developed. In 1891, he collaborated with John Conboy.
Ritchie & Dyer Co., headed by William Ritchie, produced traction engines and saw mills in a shop on the corner of Vine and Lowell streets.
The 1891 history said "selling agencies were established in all prominent cities north and south and west and the line of products was increased to include traction engines from 10 to 40 horsepower, and various sizes of saw mills, varying in capacity. About 50 traction engines and about 300 saw mills are sold per year."
H. P. Deuscher Co. listed its business as "agricultural implements, etc." on five acres at South Seventh and Hanover streets. H. P. Deuscher was involved in several local businesses, plus farming.
According to the 1891 account, the company's first implements were the Barbour Corn Drills, the McColm Soil Pulverizer, the Victor Churn and the Favorite Churn. Additions were the Hamilton Corn Planter, Check Row Corn Planter, horse hay rakes, disk harrows, folding harrows and lever harrows.
"The trade was pushed in every direction and a market found in every state in the union," the book noted. "Of the Hamilton Corn Planters alone, 5,000 have been sold and certain meritorious points in their construction have formed the model which has revolutionized the corn planter trade."
Hughes Manufacturing Co. built grain-cleaning machinery and other products in a new brick factory, powered by water, at the corner of Water and Market streets. The family business traced back to at least 1849, and had capitalized on its owners' patents for farm machinery.
It evolved under several names and proprietors until consolidation and incorporation in 1890 as the Hughes Manufacturing Co., directed by Stephen Hughes and Robert Hughes. They retired in June 1891 and H. P. Deuscher became president
"The concern manufactures wheat separators, graders, smutters, corn-cleaners and separators, flour feeders and mixers, flour blenders and vertical and horizontal bran dusters; in all a line of 53 sizes and styles of machine," said the 1891 history. "The machines have been sold by the thousand all over the known world where grain cleaning machinery is used."
Long & Allstatter Co. in 1891 was producing punching and shearing machinery and agricultural implements. Its origins were in the 1850s under the leadership of Robert Allstatter and John M. Long who manufactured a variety of other products..
In 1857 the firm built two combined mowing and reaping machines, "entirely of metal, and known as the Iron Harvester." They sold 65 machines the next year, 300 in 1859 and about 800 in 1861-62 as sales declined during the Civil War. The company also sold 15,000 sickles annually before the war.
L&A introduced hay rakes in 1863 and later added plows, sulky plows and cultivators while expanding into machinery not related to farming and components for other manufacturers.
In 1891 L&A was operating in shops on three acres on the north side of High Street between Fourth and Fifth streets.
"The establishment now makes about 7,000 cultivators; 9,000 horse rakes ; and 200 punching and shearing machines a year, besides large numbers of straw cutters, cotton planters, plows, etc.," said the centennial history.
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Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008
Vietnam War, civil rights and politics dominated 1968
By Jim Blount
While observing its 40th anniversary, Miami University Hamilton is focusing on events in 1968, a year of protests and tragedies. Scheduled to speak on the MUH campus this fall as part of the observance are Olympic champion Tommie Smith and Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Seymour Hersh.
Smith's feats on the track in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City were overshadowed by his controversial stance on the awards platform Oct. 16, 1968. It was a memorable scene in a year when the civil rights movement shared headlines with the Vietnam War and the presidential election.
Hersh won honors for exposing the March 16, 1968, My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Hersh broke the story in November 1969, earning a 1970 Pulitzer Prize. Hersh -- whose reporting and books span more than 40 years -- also revealed the Abu Ghraid prison abuses in Iraq in 2004.
Smith -- who caught one pass for 41 yards for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1969 -- will speak at Miami Hamilton Tuesday evening, Sept. 23. Hersh is scheduled Tuesday evening, Oct. 21.
Other national events that reverberated through the Hamilton area in 1968 were the April 4 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis and the June 6 assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, in Los Angeles.
Eleven Butler County men died in Vietnam that year, which began with the North Vietnamese launching the Tet offensive Jan. 10 against several key South Vietnam cities. Although considered a U. S. military success, Tet became a political and psychological setback in the states. In May, North Vietnamese and U. S. representatives began negotiations for peace talks in Paris.
The war was at the heart of the tumultuous presidential contest. In a campaign filled with surprises, President Lyndon Johnson announced March 31 he would not seek a second term. Besides Robert Kennedy, leading Democratic contenders were Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Sen. Eugene McCarthy and Sen. George McGovern.
Demonstrations outside the convention and around Chicago -- and aggressive police response -- dominated TV coverage and detracted from Humphrey's Aug. 28 convention victory.
Aug. 8, former Vice President Richard Nixon won the Republican nomination. His leading challengers included three governors, George W. Romney (Michigan), Nelson A. Rockefeller (New York) and Ronald Reagan (California). Nixon promised "to bring an honorable end to the war in Vietnam."
Gov. Reagan -- later a favorite of Butler County voters -- made brief stops Sept. 19 in Hamilton and Fairfield in support of Nixon.
Segregationist Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama, nominated by the American Independent Party, was a strong third-party candidate.
Vice presidential candidates were Spiro Agnew (R), Edmund Muskie (D) and Curtis Lemay (AIP).
Nov. 5, 1968, Nixon (43.4 percent) edged Humphrey (42.7) while Wallace collected 13.5 percent of the national popular vote.
In Butler County, it was the second of three victories for Nixon. He had bested John F. Kennedy in 1960 and later trounced George McGovern in 1972. Johnson had defeated Barry Goldwater in 1964.
Television offered some relief from politics, the war and protests on college campuses. Top 1968 shows included Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In; Gomer Pyle, USMC; Bonanza; Gunsmoke; Mayberry RFD; Dean Martin Show; Here's Lucy and the Beverly Hillbillies.
Leading movie stars included Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, John Wayne, Julie Andrews, Clint Eastwood, Dean Martin, Lee Marvin, Jack Lemmon, Steve McQueen and Elizabeth Taylor.
Music favorites, besides the Beatles, included Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Herb Alpert, Glen Campbell, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Diana Ross and the Supremes and Simon and Garfunkel.
The Reds' Pete Rose (.335 average) was the National League batting champion; the Detroit Tigers won the World Series; the New York Jets won the Super Bowl at the end of the 1968 NFC season; the Boston Celtics ruled the NBA; and Ohio State and UCLA were college champions in football and basketball, respectively.
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Conventions not expected to rival earlier party events
By Jim Blount
Much has been written and said about the demise of political decisions being made in a smoke-filled back room during presidential nominating conventions. With most states holding primary elections, the process is supposed to be more open and less dependent on secret deals. That doesn't mean TV cameras will catch every maneuver when the Democrats meet Aug. 25 and the Republicans Sept. 1.
The presidential nominees are certain, but there is room for some surprise and suspense on other matters. One issue is who will get prime time TV exposure. As the parties script the convention, they'll decide who speaks and when. Political futures could depend on the decisions.
Whatever happens, there's little chance the 2008 convocations will challenge some pre-TV conventions for controversy and drama.
An example is the 1844 Democratic convention when the first dark horse won the nomination. Delegates voted seven times without anyone totaling the 177 necessary votes.
James K. Polk of Tennessee -- as planned by his supporters -- had no votes on the first seven ballots while Martin Van Buren (New York) and Lewis Cass (Michigan) battled for the lead. On the eighth ballot, Polk garnered only four votes. He emerged as a compromise candidate and on the ninth round was the party's unanimous selection.
Another dark horse prevailed at the 1852 Democratic convention. Lewis Cass led on the first ballot, as he had in 1844. Franklin Pierce (New Hampshire) vaulted from zero on the first count to grab the nomination on the 49th ballot.
An 1852 Miami University graduate -- Benjamin Harrison -- won the 1888 Republican nomination in a similar manner. Ohio Sen. John Sherman led the first ballot while Harrison collected only 85 votes. On the eighth ballot, Harrison triumphed, thanks to some political dealing.
When Harrison was inaugurated in 1889, he admitted he had many political debts to pay -- debts amassed by his campaign leaders.
"When I came to power," Harrison said, "I found that my party's leaders had taken all the power for themselves. I could not name my own cabinet. They had sold every cabinet position to pay for the election."
The record for the most ballots was 103 by the Democrats in 1924 when John William Davis of West Virginia was chosen. The 17-day 1924 meeting -- the longest convention by any party -- also was the first to be broadcast on radio.
A 1924 platform decision is regarded as the closest vote in any convention. A plank condemning the Ku Klux Klan lost 543 7⁄20ths to 543 3⁄20ths, a difference of 4⁄20th of a vote. That was possible because some states had more delegates than votes and each person cast only a fraction of a vote.
The Democrats also had a long convention in 1920 -- 54 ballots -- before nominating a Butler County native. It was 5 a.m. in Hamilton when James M. Cox was named in San Francisco. There was no radio or TV coverage then, so Hamiltonians were awakened that morning by church and fire bells, locomotive and factory whistles and the firing of a signal cannon.
That same year, Republicans also chose an Ohio newspaper publisher. Warren G. Harding won on the 10th ballot.
The most ballots in a Republican convention involved an Ohioan. James A. Garfield, who had no votes on the first ballot, earned the 1880 nomination on the 36th try.
Neither party has approached the longevity records during the last half century. The last Democratic convention to go beyond one ballot was 1952 when Adlai Stevenson (Illinois) was the winner on the third ballot. That was the first year of widespread TV coverage.
The last Republican contest longer than one ballot was 1948 with Thomas E. Dewey (New York) earning the honor on the third ballot.
The 1976 Republican presidential vote was the closest recent first-ballot contest. President Gerald Ford, seeking reelection, defeated Ronald Reagan, 1,187-1,070 votes, a 117-vote difference.
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William Beckett among 1860 Republican delegates
By Jim Blount
As the 1860 campaign began, it seemed certain the new president would face a Civil War, dividing the United States north and south. In doubt was who would replace President James Buchanan in the White House in March 1861. The Democratic Party was split. The Republicans had never elected a president.
The Democrats -- with slavery the major issue -- held the first of what would be seven conventions that year, starting April 23, 1860, in Charleston, S. C.
Sen. Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois was expected to be the nominee. His credentials included the state supreme court, Illinois secretary of state, the state legislature, twice elected to the U. S. House and three times elected to the U. S. Senate.
The Democrats voted 57 times without selecting a nominee. Fifty southern delegates walked out in protest of the platform and the convention was adjourned with plans to resume in June in Baltimore.
The Constitutional Union Party, a splinter group, held the next convention May 9-10 in Baltimore, choosing Tennessee's John Bell for president and Massachusetts' Edward Everett as vice president.
New York Sen. William H. Seward was the favorite as Republicans prepared to meet in Chicago May 16. Seward offered valuable experience, including service in the state legislature, governor of New York and the U. S. Senate.
Before the Chicago convocation, state parties had to caucus to select delegates and decide which of several candidates to support. There were no voter primaries.
Ohio Republicans had met March 1 in Columbus to elect four at-large delegates. They also declared support for a favorite son, Salmon P. Chase, although the vote wasn't unanimous. That decision bound only at-large delegates, not the two delegates elected in each of Ohio's 21 congressional districts.
Chosen in the third district, including Butler County, were William Beckett of Hamilton and P. P. Lowe of Dayton.
Although only 40, Beckett was a respected civic leader and businessman in 1860. He had been born in Hanover Twp in 1821 and graduated from Miami University in 1844. He had studied law under John Woods, but chose business over law. In 1848, he was a founder of the Beckett Paper Co., a firm he headed until his death in 1895.
Before the Chicago convention, Beckett was among Ohio delegates pledged to Chase, a Cincinnati lawyer since 1830. Chase had varied political experience -- Cincinnati city council, governor of Ohio and the U. S. Senate. He had not only opposed federal fugitive slave laws, he had represented escaped slaves in Ohio courts without pay.
Ohio Sen. Benjamin F. Wade had limited support in his home state. He had been a county prosecutor, state senator and state judge before serving nine years in the U. S. Senate.
John McLean -- another Ohioan -- was considered a long shot. The 76-year-old McLean, with 48 years public service, had some backing among Ohio delegates. His service included the U. S. House of Representatives; associate judge of the Ohio Supreme Court; commissioner of the U. S. General Land Office; postmaster general during the administrations of presidents James Monroe and John Quincy Adams; and, since 1829, an associate justice of the U. S. Supreme Court.
Contrasting with Chase, Wade, Seward and McLean in experience was an Illinois favorite son -- Abraham Lincoln -- whose political success was limited to four terms in the state legislature and one term in the U. S. House of Representatives.
Lincoln had gained national exposure in 1858 in a series of debates with Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. The Lincoln-Douglas debates in Illinois highlighted their contest for a U. S. Senate seat.
Lincoln won the debates, but Douglas went to Washington to represent Illinois. At that time, U. S. senators were elected by state legislatures, not by voters.
Lincoln had made a brief appearance in Hamilton Sept. 17, 1859, in a railroad tour that's considered as extension of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. He spoke from the rear of a train while campaigning for Republican candidates. His other speeches on that Ohio tour were in Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati.
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