Senators Through The Ages
Pete Fact : Grammy winning artist and first American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson visited the Statehouse in 2013 as part of an ancestry discovery trip with the TV show "Who Do You Think You Are." While visiting the Senate chamber, she learned that her 3x great grandfather Isaiah Rose served as an Ohio State Senator from Washington County (current 30th Senate District) in the early 1900s. State senators come from diverse backgrounds and differing viewpoints. Mothers, fathers, teachers, attorneys, small business owners, farmers, and many others elected as legislators have shaped the direction of Ohio for more than 200 years. Today, many senators serve as full-time legislators, but some members still hold other occupations in addition to their legislative duties.
First Women Senators
Pete Fact : Ohio ratified the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote on June 16, 1919, with votes of 23-6 in the Ohio Senate and 27-3 in the Ohio House. The support was not so overwhelming in the United States Congress, where the 19th Amendment passed by only one vote. Most of Ohio’s congressional delegation voted against it. The 85th General Assembly, which convened in January of 1923, was the first Senate session to include female legislators. The first women to be elected to the Ohio Senate were Nettie Bromley Loughead of Hamilton County and Maude Comstock Waitt of Cuyahoga County. Loughead has the distinction of being the first female senator to present a bill and the first American woman to preside over a state Senate. Waitt served four terms in the Ohio Senate after serving on the Lakewood City Council.
First African-American Senator
The first African-American to be elected to the Ohio Senate was John Patterson Green, a Republican from Cleveland. He was elected in 1891 after serving as Justice of the Peace in Cleveland and in the Ohio House of Representatives, where he sponsored the bill that established Labor Day in Ohio. Green, who would later be appointed Government Stamp Agent by fellow Ohioan William McKinley, was the author of three books, including his 1920 autobiography entitled Fact Stranger Than Fiction.
For more than two centuries of statehood, numerous state senators have gone on to serve Ohio as governors, statewide elected officials, United States Supreme Court Justices and members of the Congress. Three state senators would become Presidents of the United States, and one was just a turn of fate away from becoming president.
President William H. Harrison
Pete Fact : Ohio is often referred to as the "Mother of Presidents" because seven presidents were born in Ohio. William Henry Harrison was born in Virginia, but settled in Ohio. In addition to former state Senators Harrison, Garfield, and Harding, Ohioans Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and William H. Taft all held our nation’s highest office. All eight presidents have hearing rooms named in their honor at the Ohio Statehouse. The rooms contain a collection of personal artifacts specific to each president. William H. Harrison's short term in the Ohio Senate from 1819-1821 was longer than his time in the Whitehouse. In fact, Harrison, our ninth president, had the shortest presidential term in history – 32 days. However, he delivered the longest inaugural address. Harrison is the only president whose grandson, Benjamin Harrison, also held the executive office. Prior to his political service, Harrison distinguished himself on the battlefield. He served as aide-de-camp to General "Mad Anthony" Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, earned the nickname "Old Tippecanoe" in the Battle of Tippecanoe, and achieved the rank of brigadier general in the War of 1812. He also served as Secretary of the Northwest Territory and Governor of the Indiana Territory, represented Ohio in the United States House of Representatives, and waged an unsuccessful bid for governor of Ohio.
President James A. Garfield
Pete Fact : Alexander Graham Bell, famous for inventing the telephone, tried to help the mortally wounded President Garfield. He tried to locate the bullet using an induction-balance electrical device of his own design, but sadly, the effort was unsuccessful. James A. Garfield, the nation's 20th president served in the Ohio Senate from 1859 -1861. Born in Cuyahoga County in 1831, Garfield left Ohio for a time to pursue his education, but returned to serve as a classics professor and president at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, which later became Hiram College. He was elected to the Ohio Senate in 1859 as a Republican. During the secession crisis, he advocated for coercing the seceding states back into the Union. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Union Army and rose in rank to become major general. Garfield served in both the United States House of Representatives and Senate before ascending to the presidency in 1881. In July, just six months into his term, he was shot in a Washington railroad station. He died months later on September 19, 1881.
President Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding, our 29th president, was the publisher of a newspaper before he began his career in politics. He served in the Ohio Senate from 1899-1902, served as Ohio Lieutenant Governor, ran unsuccessfully for governor, and later served in the United States Senate. In 1920, Harding became the Republican candidate for president and won by a landslide, earning 60 percent of the popular vote. Unfortunately, his presidency was cut short when he died of a heart attack in 1923. His short term was marked by many firsts – first to be elected on his birthday, first to be elected with women’s votes, first to ride in a car on his inauguration, first to give an inaugural address over an amplified system, first to broadcast a speech by radio and first to own and install a radio in the Whitehouse.
Benjamin Franklin Wade, next in line for President?
In 1868, following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, his successor President Andrew Johnson faced impeachment and trial. Because the vice presidency was vacant, the next in line for the presidency was the United States Senate President Pro Tempore, former state Senator Benjamin Franklin Wade of Ohio. Not long after Johnson was acquitted, Wade failed in his U.S. Senate re-election bid and returned to his private law practice. Benjamin Franklin Wade served in the Ohio Senate from 1837-1838 and 1841-1842.
Chief Justice of the United States Morrison Waite
The seventh Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court first served in the Ohio Senate from 1849-1850. Born in Connecticut, he moved to Maumee, Ohio to practice law after graduating from Yale. He was appointed Chief Justice by President Ulysses S. Grant, a fellow Ohioan, and succeeded Justice Salmon P. Chase, former Governor of Ohio. As Chief Justice he had the honor to administer the oath of office to four United States presidents, including Ohioans Rutherford Hayes and James Garfield, fellow Ohio Senate alum, as well as Chester Arthur and Grover Cleveland.
Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Stanley Matthews
Stanley Matthews, who served in the Ohio Senate from 1856-1857, was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. President Rutherford B. Hayes nominated Matthews for the Court in 1881. Because Matthews was considered a controversial pick, the United States Senate did not act upon his appointment. When President James A. Garfield succeeded Hayes, he re-nominated Matthews and the Senate confirmed him by a vote of 24-23-- the narrowest confirmation for a successful Supreme Court nominee in history.