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EAR THE end of his fourth and final term as governor of Ohio, James A. Rhodes was the guest of honor at the unveiling of a statue of him—one that the governor had convinced the General Assembly to erect—on the statehouse lawn. There, his likeness joined statues of William McKinley, James Garfield, and others the state had deemed fit to memorialize, although few passersby can recite their deeds or accomplishments. By installing an idealized piece of bronze to symbolize his historical legacy, Rhodes assured that he would be remembered even if his historical role was not understood. The purpose of this book is to take the states’ history beyond the homage of statues. That is, it seeks to humanize rather than memorialize Ohioans who have played important roles in the state’s past. Unlike the statehouse statues, this work is not an uncritical celebration of the state’s past. There are certainly events recounted here that most Ohioans will deem worthy of praise, such as John Parker’s escape from slavery, Tom Johnson’s rise from poverty, and the efforts of Philander Chase and William Oxley Thompson to create a system of higher education that met the needs of the state. But there are also things in the state’s past and in this book that most Ohioans will find uncomfortable, such as the mistreatment of Native Americans, the persecution of African Americans, and the inequities that accompanied industrialization. This volume contains both the positive and negative; the editors believe that an honest portrayal of Ohio’s past is the best way to celebrate it. The twenty-four essays in this volume use biography to explore Ohio’s history. They are not intended to provide a narrative history offering encyclopedic coverage or describing events in chronological order. Nonetheless, they do provide a historical overview of the state’s development from George Croghan’s search for fame and fortune on vii Introduction WARREN VAN TINE AND MICHAEL PIERCE  N vantne_3rd_intro.qxd 11/3/2003 6:29 PM Page vii INTRODUCTION viii the eighteenth-century frontier through Dave Thomas’s creation of a fast food empire in the late twentieth century. Each chapter also addresses important events and transformations in the state’s history such as European settlement, Native American resistance, the creation of territorial and state governments, the development of the state’s educational and economic institutions, the disruptions created by the Civil War, the struggle of African Americans and women to participate in Ohio’s public life, efforts to ameliorate the pernicious effects of industrialization, the negotiation of the state’s role in a nation increasingly dominated by the federal government, and the ramifications of deindustrialization and rise of a service economy. The editors chose the biographical approach for three reasons. First, the volume seeks to bring the work of academic historians to a wider audience. With its strong narrative structure and attention to the personal, biography can do just that. Second, the biographical approach underscores the contingent nature of history and the agency of individuals. In other words, history is not simply the interplay of impersonal social and economic forces; it is how individual actors responded to these forces to create the worlds in which they lived. Third, as historian David Brion Davis has observed, “By showing how cultural tensions and contradictions may be internalized, struggled with, and resolved within actual individuals, biography offers the most promising synthesis of culture and history.” These biographies are not necessarily of the most famous Ohioans. In fact, few of the twenty-five individuals are household names. Ohioans such as Pete Rose and Neil Armstrong will certainly always be better known than the likes of Benjamin Arnett or Frances Dana Gage or John Campbell. This is not to suggest that Rose and Armstrong are unworthy of scholarly attention. Certainly, Rose’s career could be used to illuminate the role of celebrity in late-twentieth-century America and Armstrong’s the race for technological superiority during the Cold War, but they tell us little about the state’s development or what distinguished Ohio from other states or the nation as a whole. Likewise, the editors have not included essays examining Ohioans whose primary area of influence was on the national stage. Hence, there are no essays surveying the lives of William McKinley, Ulysses S. Grant, and numerous other Ohioans who have played important roles in national affairs. These individuals also tell us less about Ohio than they do about the United States...


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