Review: Timeline V24, #4 October December 2007

Timeline: A Publication of the Ohio Historical Society

“I Wish Mark Was Here”: The Political Partnership of Mark Hanna and William McKinley– by Roy Morris Jr.

I must admit that I really didn’t know much about President McKinley; and nothing at all about his political supporters. I did know that in the early years of our nation that overt politicking by a presidential candidate was considered unseemly. And with the current presidential election process starting nearly two years before the actual election, I think our ancestors were on to something. We are all going to be sick and tired of the election by the time it rolls around in November 2008.

But things are not really all that different. Savvy campaign managers will use whatever tool they can to improve the chances of their candidate. Mark Hanna was just that person for McKinley. He was the spin doctor that turned McKinley’s financial troubles from a liability into an asset. He orchestrated a “front porch” campaign in the 1896 Presidential election. This kept McKinley from needing to out perform William Jennings Bryan on the stump circuit or even from facing him in a debate. The younger, more energetic and polished public orator Bryan surely would have bested McKinley in a more traditional campaign. Nixon could have learned from McKinley, and not have debated Kennedy on television.

Hanna and McKinley were in lock step with each other politically. Hanna knew how to get things accomplished from behind the scenes, while McKinley put forth the face of protection and concern. In some ways I feel that McKinley and Hanna were just a kinder, gentler prototype to Bush and Rove.

When the “Red Devil” Went Out in Style– by William D. Middleton

Dreams of high speed rail transportation is really nothing new. In Ohio during the Great Depression era, there was such a system in western Ohio. Electric trains capable of attaining speeds approaching 100 miles per hour traversed between Cincinnati and Dayton with legs that continued on to Cleveland and Columbus. Cheap, non-polluting, fast, clean and friendly– it would seem that this rail system had all it needed to survive. That it lasted as long as it did during troubled times in the United States is a testament to how well conceived and how well run it really was.

Front Porch Campaign– by Roger Pickenpaugh

The second of two articles to cover William McKinley, this offering focuses on the campaign of 1896. “Front Porch” campaigns were an effective tool used by candidates even up into the 1900’s. It would be difficult to mount such a campaign today mainly because of the change in attitude of the media. I can envision a modern news outlet focusing in on the safety issue caused by the instability of the speaking platform erected in McKinley’s front yard and totally ignoring the main issues of tariffs, free silver and the gold monetary standard. It is fascinating to learn how much different things were before radio, television and wireless communication meddled with the perceptions of the American populace and made it okay for a presidential candidates to be “unseemly” as long as it garners more votes.

The Kindness of Strangers: an Ohioan Escapes the Nazis– by Jerri Donohue

I have been fascinated with WWII and especially the escape attempts by prisoners ever since my parents let me stay up late one night to watch “The Great Escape” on television. The movie barely brushes on the assistance that those escapees had and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to learn more about the brave common citizens that risked everything to help allied soldiers return to Great Britain. Jerri Donohue gives us a great look at one soldier, not a prisoner of war, but a downed aviator- an “evader”- that avoided capture in German held territory and was safely returned all due to the kindness of strangers. Soldiers are easily called heroes, and rightly so in my opinion, but the common family where the husband and wife knowingly risk everything, including their lives, are also heroes. This is a fascinating article.

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