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Ohio's Presidents

In recent election years, Ohio has played a pivotal role in the election of the president of the United States, but Ohio's connection to the White House goes deeper. Eight men (7 were born here) called Ohio home before making the White House their temporary dwelling.

  • Of the 4 men assassinated while serving as President, two were Ohioans: James Garfield and William McKinley.

  • Eight Presidents died in office and 4 of those were from Ohio: William Harrison, James Garfield, William McKinley and Warren G. Harding.

  • Of the 9 Presidents portrayed on US paper currency, 2 were from Ohio: Grant and McKinley.

  • Of the 12 Presidents that were generals during their lifetime, 5 were from Ohio: William Harrison, U.S. Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield and Benjamin Harrison.

The Presidents

Only William Henry Harrison wasn't actually born in Ohio, but he did call Ohio home from the time Ohio became a state. A point of note is that when William Harrison was born, there were no states, only 13 colonies. In fact he was the last President to be elected that could be considered being born under foreign rule. The other 7 Presidents were: Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J. Q. Adams, and Andrew Jackson who were all born as British subjects.

First Ladies

Some tidbits on a few of the
First Ladies of Ohio's Presidents

Anna Harrison (Anna Symmes) was the wife of William H. Harrison, the oldest President to serve the office to that date. She likewise was the oldest First Lady at 65. She also served the shortest time as First Lady. She also is the only woman who was the wife of a president and grandmother to another (Benjamin Harrison in 1889). Being the first widow of a President in office, Congress gave Anna $25,000 one-time payment as a form of pension for her husband's 31days of service in the office of the presidency.

Julia Grant (Julia Dent) was the first First Lady to write her memoirs. Upon taking his oath of office for the presidency, Ulysses turned to his wife and said: "Now my dear, I hope you're happy?"

Lucy Hayes (Lucy Ware Webb) and was a member of the National Women's Christian Temperance League. Once Rutherford took office, Lucy convinced him that alcohol should be banned from the White House. After that decree became known, Lucy received the nickname "Lemonade Lucy." Because of her high moral principles, she was admired by many women of the day. One reporter referred to her as "First Lady" which has since become the standard title for the wife of the President.

Ohio has had 6 women born in Ohio, that served as First Ladies: Lucy Webb Hayes, Lucretia Rudolph Garfield, Caroline Scott Harrison, Ida Saxton McKinley, Helen Herron Taft, and Florence DeWolfe Harding.

McKinley Campaign Button

Why the Scarlet Carnation is recognized as the State Flower

The scarlet carnation was adopted as Ohio's state flower in 1904 in memory of President William McKinley, who wore a red carnation in his lapel. In 1901 at the Pan-American Expo, McKinley stood in a receiving line shaking hands with visitors in a receiving line. A 12 year old Myrtle Ledger along with her mother, asked him a favor: “Could I have something to show my friends? They’ll never believe I spoke to you.” At hearing this, he removed the flower from his lapel, and handed it over to the little girl. A few seconds later Leon F. Czolgosz, an unhappy anarchist with a 32 caliber pistol wrapped in a bandage around his hand shot President McKinley twice in the stomach and the President died of this wound a few weeks later.

Another oddity to President McKinley's assassination is the fact that part of the expo was the demonstration of a new device called an X-Ray Light Machine. The surgeons operating on the President removed one of the bullets, but could not find the other and he was sewed up with needle and thread. In later days, the President suggested that perhaps the X-Ray Light apparatus might be used to locate the second bullet, but the doctors were afraid to use it because they didn't know the side effects of such a contraption. They instead opted to re-open the wound and look some more, but could not find the bullet. When the President died, it was later determined that he died from a bacterial infection resulting in the several unsafe operating conditions of the time.

Ohio Presidential Firsts...

Rutherford B. Hayes was the first President to use a telephone in the White House. His wife Lucy, was also the first First Lady to graduate from a college (Ohio Wesleyan in Delaware). Hayes also served 3 terms as Governor of Ohio. Hayes also held the first Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn, a tradition that continues to this day. Hayes was also 1 of 4 Presidents that were elected to office without winning the popular vote. The other 3 were: John Q. Adams, Benjamin Harrison, and George W. Bush. Rutherford's wife, Lucy, was the first, First Lady, to be called the First Lady.

Warren G. Harding was the first president to ride to his inauguration in an automobile. He was also the first president to speak on the radio. He brought in the first radio to the Whitehouse. He was also the first president to pay federal income taxes on his presidential salary, although he was not required to do so. He was the first U.S. Senator to be elected to the Whitehouse and he was the first president to visit Alaska.

William H. Taft was the first President to have a presidential car. He was also the only President to become Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court and he was the first President to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

William Henry Harrison gave the longest inaugural speech, served the shortest time in office, and was the first President to die in office.

He caught a cold after giving that long inaugural speech that quickly turned into pneumonia and died a short time later, even before his wife could make the trip from Ohio to Washington D.C.

Harrison was also the first President from the Whig Party. He was also the first Presidential candidate to come up with a campaign slogan: "Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too!" Pretty catchy. Tippecanoe referred to Harrison's military victory over a group of Shawnee Indians at a river in Indiana called Tippecanoe in 1811. Tyler was his Vice Presidential candidate. Harrison was also the first President to have studied to become a doctor.

During Harrison's campaign, he also used the Buckeye as his campaign symbol because of its association with Ohio. Many of his supporters wore necklaces made from a string of buckeyes. and Harrison always carried a buckeye nut in his pocket, and used a cane made from a buckeye tree.

Benjamin Harrison was the first President to use electricity in the White House. Harrison was also 1 of 4 Presidents that were elected to office without winning the popular vote. The other 3 were: John Q. Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, and George W. Bush.

Ulysses S. Grant was the first President to get a speeding ticket for driving his horse-drawn carriage too fast down M street. He was fined $20. When a police officer stopped him for speeding, the officer seeing he was the President did not want to issue the ticket. Grant insisted that the officer do his duty. Grant also established the first national park: Yellowstone. Grant was also (to date) only 1 of 18 U.S. Presidents who never served in Congress.

James Garfield was the last of seven presidents to be born in a log cabin.