MOTHER OF PRESIDENTS | Ohio, Virginia tied

MOTHER OF PRESIDENTS | Ohio, Virginia tied

An Ohioan hasn’t served as president of the United States since 1923. But eight Ohioans were elected president in the nation’s history. That puts Ohio in a tie with Virginia, where eight U.S. presidents were born, for the state producing the most presidents. Of the eight Ohioans elected president, seven were born in the state. The other is claimed by the state as an “adopted son” because he spent much of his adult life in Ohio and served it as a U.S. House member and U.S. senator before being elected president.

William Henry Harrison, ninth president, Whig, served from March 4, 1841, to April 4, 1841. Virginia also lays claim to Harrison because he was born there in 1773. But Harrison’s political career began in Ohio. He was elected to Congress in 1816 and to the Ohio Senate in 1818. He unsuccessfully ran for governor and Congress before being elected by the state Legislature in 1825 to represent Ohio in the U.S. Senate. Harrison lost the 1836 presidency, but won the 1840 race. He caught pneumonia on March 4, 1841, his inauguration day, which was cold and windy. He died a month later, the first president to die in office.

Ulysses S. Grant, 18th president, Republican. The first Ohio-born president, Grant had command of the Union armies during the Civil War, forcing the Confederacy to surrender in 1865. He never ran for political office before winning the 1868 presidency. He was re-elected to a second four-year term in 1872.

Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th president, Republican. The first governor of Ohio to be elected president. He lost the popular vote in the 1876 presidential election to New York Gov. Samuel J. Tilden by more than 254,000 votes in what historians consider one of the most controversial presidential elections. Republicans contended blacks were prevented from voting in three southern states. Congress created a 15-member commission to settle the dispute. By an 8-7 vote the commission sided with Hayes as the winner. Some southern Democrats accepted the recommendation as long as Hayes agreed to withdraw federal troops from the South. Hayes did so after being selected thus ending Reconstruction. He didn’t seek re-election.

James A. Garfield, 20th president, Republican. The third consecutive Ohioan to be elected president when he won the 1880 election. At the June 1880 Republican convention, the party was split in two with one faction wanting Grant and the other wanting Sen. James G. Blaine of Maine. On the 36th ballot, the two sides selected Garfield as a compromise candidate. He was shot at a Washington, D.C., train station on the way to his college reunion on July 2, 1881, and died on Sept. 19 after 200 days in office. He was the second president to be killed by an assassin.

Benjamin Harrison, 23rd president, Republican. His grandfather was William Henry Harrison. After his party deadlocked on a presidential nominee, Harrison was selected to be the Republican candidate in the 1888 race. He lost the popular vote by 90,596 to incumbent President Grover Cleveland, but the Republican easily won the electoral vote, 233 to 168. Cleveland won the rematch in 1892.

William McKinley, 25th president, Republican. Born in Niles, McKinley moved with his family to Poland. He spent about two years in the Youngstown law offices of County Judge Charles E. Glidden after the Civil War. After getting his law degree, he settled in Canton. McKinley was a longtime U.S. House member and was elected Ohio governor in 1891. He was elected president in 1896 and re-elected in 1900. His 1900 win over Democrat William Jennings Bryan by 859,694 votes was the largest margin of victory in a presidential race at the time. He was shot on Sept. 5, 1901, in Buffalo and died nine days later. He was the third president to be assassinated.

William Howard Taft, 27th president, Republican. Taft is the only American to hold both the offices of president and chief justice of the United States. Taft was the largest man ever to serve as president. He was elected president in 1908, easily beating Bryan. His re-election bid was a disaster as he received 23 percent of the popular vote and eight electoral votes; the worst finish ever for an incumbent president.

Warren G. Harding, 29th president, Republican. Harding was the first president born after the Civil War, the first to be elected while serving in the U.S. Senate, and the first to assume office after World War I. His tenure as president from March, 4, 1921, to Aug. 2, 1923, included a number of scandals including the Teapot Dome that saw his interior secretary accept bribes to lease government-owned oil reserves to oil magnates without competitive bidding. He began a national speaking tour in June 1923 to help restore trust in his administration when he became ill and died on Aug. 2.

Sources: The Ohio Politics Almanac, various Web sites

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