Ohio, before and during, was a power player in shaping the War Between the States.

  • Ohio was a hot bed of Abolitionists.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, early abolitionist newspapers, politicians (Salmon P. Chase for one) and Oberlin College were all from, about, or in Ohio.
  • The Buckeye State was instrumental in the success of the Underground Railroad as a major path to Canada.
  • Lincoln carried Ohio to become President.

Serving in Lincoln’s Cabinet were two former Ohio Governors, Salmon P. Chase (Appointed by Lincoln as Chief Justice of SCOTUS in 1864) and William Dennison. Lincoln’s powerful Secretary of War was Edwin Stanton of Ohio. These men helped shape the Union’s response to the Southern insurrection.

Ohio was an economic powerhouse and major political center for the Union. Without Ohio’s economic engine supplying troops, leaders, and supplies the war may have had a far different result.

As it was, Ohio not only supplied political leadership, it gave the Union Army close to 320,000 soldiers. That was the largest per capita commitment in the Union. There were about 35,000 casualties including over 6,000 KIA. Of those KIA, over 400 were officers.

Because Ohio was a haven to free and escaped people of color, we gave the Union Army over 5,000 African-American troops.

Ohio also produced the most notable Generals in the army – Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Hooker, McClelland, to name a few.  Of the Ohio officers, five would later serve as President of The United States. Ohio dominated the office of POTUS in the latter part of the 19th century.

In spite of this noble history, it seems now that Ohio wants to be a member of the Old Confederacy. Since 2010, Ohio’s republican legislature has been at the forefront of awful, repressive, regressive laws in a seeming attempt to repeal the 20th and 21st centuries.

Ohio’s concealed carry laws (originally passed over vehement opposition from the FOP and law enforcement in general) have been relaxed to the point where a bill to allow unlicensed CCW is being considered. It would eliminate training and background check requirements currently in effect. (Arkansas, Alaska, Wyoming, Arizona and Vermont currently have similar laws).  Coincidentally, most of these states have far right legislatures, like Ohio.

Since the GOP/Tea Party has taken over the Ohio Legislature and statewide offices, we have seen an unprecedented assault on women’s reproductive choices explode in Ohio.  Many of the Ohio laws and regulations have been cut and pasted into bills and laws passed in places like Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi and other bastions of repression. Unfortunately, Ohio, once a moderate, sane state has aligned itself with the Old South as a leader in this field.  The “Heartbeat Bill”, a true zombie that refuses to die, is awaiting Senate action in Ohio once again. Thankfully, we were spared the committee testimony of a fetus this time around.

Ohio’s Secretary of State, Jon Husted, is a vote suppression zealot. He has been slapped around by federal courts and SCOTUS several times, nearly being held in contempt. The last election cycle though the SCOTUS that gutted the Voting Rights Act let him decimate voter access. His actions fall in line with the Old Confederate States freed from oversight. Husted has never seen a voter suppression law he hasn’t loved.

It seems as if Ohio is seeing statements, bills, and ideas better suited to the Jim Crow era. We narrowly avoided Indiana’s and Arkansas’s religious freedom fate when our own “Religious Freedom” bill died.

It is way past time Ohio reclaimed its past as a visionary state opposed to the ideals of Jim Crow and The Lost Cause mentality of the Old Confederacy.

We can start by removing faux moderate Rob Portman who signed the infamous Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) Iran letter. Portman walks lock step with U.S. Senate leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to deny a confirmation vote on AG nominee Loretta Lynch. Portman has also followed the GOP leadership off assorted cliffs on every important vote since becoming Ohio’s Junior Senator.

We have to draw a line somewhere — draw it for progressive ideals.

It’s long past time to say no.

No further.

Ohio (and America) is better than the GOP is demonstrating to our Allies and the world.

 

 

 
  • DublinIrishBob

    Great piece, Thomas. You are very accurate here describing the “Southernization” of our formerly progressive state.

  • DollySosa

    Excellent column – thanks for the history and the contemporary perspective. And Bob’s use of “Southernization” is sadly spot on.

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