Ohio has been the native state of seven US presidents and the residence of another. Inventions by Ohioans include the incandescent light, the arc light, and the airplane.
William Henry Harrison (b.Virginia, 1773–1841), the 9th US president, came to Ohio as a US Army ensign in territorial times. After serving in the Indian wars under Gen. Anthony Wayne, he became secretary of the Northwest Territory. As the territorial delegate to Congress, he fostered the Harrison Land Act, which stimulated settlement of the public domain. Named territorial governor in 1800, Harrison conducted both warfare and peace negotiations with the Indians. After the defeat of British and Indian forces in 1813, he became known as the "Washington of the West." After settling at North Bend on the Ohio River, he began a political career that carried him to the White House in 1841. Harrison caught a chill from a cold March wind and died of pneumonia exactly one month after his inauguration.
From 1869 to 1881, the White House was occupied by three Ohioans. All were Republicans who had served with distinction as Union Army generals. The first, Ulysses Simpson Grant (Hiram Ulysses Grant, 1822–85), the 18th US president, was an Ohio farm boy educated at West Point. After service in the Mexican War, he left the US Army, having been charged with intemperance. He emerged from obscurity in 1861, when he was assigned to an Illinois regiment. Grant rose quickly in command; after victories at Shiloh and Vicksburg, he was commissioned major general. In 1864, he directed the Virginia campaign that ended with Confederate surrender, and this rumpled, slouching, laconic man became the nation's hero. In 1868, he was elected president, and he was reelected in 1872. His second term was rocked with financial scandals, though none were directly connected to Grant. After leaving the presidency in 1877, he went bankrupt, and to discharge his debts, he wrote his memoirs. That extraordinary book was completed four days before his death from throat cancer in 1885. Grant is buried in a monumental tomb in New York City.
Rutherford B. Hayes (1822–93), the 19th US president, was born in Delaware, Ohio, and educated at Kenyon College and Harvard Law School. Following Army service, he was elected to Congress, and in 1876 became the Republican presidential nominee. In a close and disputed election, he defeated New York's Governor Samuel J. Tilden. Hayes chose not to run for reelection, returning instead to Ohio to work on behalf of humanitarian causes. In 1893, Hayes died in Fremont, where the Hayes Memorial was created—the first presidential museum and library in the nation.
James A. Garfield (1831–81), 20th US president, was born in a log cabin in northern Ohio. Between school terms, he worked as a farmhand and a mule driver on the Ohio Canal. After holding several Civil War commands, he served in Congress for 18 years. Elected president in 1880, he held office but a few months; he was shot by a disappointed office seeker in the Washington, D.C. railroad station on 2 July and died 11 weeks later.
Benjamin Harrison (1833–1901), 23rd US president and grandson of William Henry Harrison, was born in North Bend. After graduation from Miami University, he studied law and began to practice in Indianapolis. Military command in the Civil War was followed by service in the US Senate and the Republican presidential nomination in 1888. As president, Harrison gave impetus to westward expansion, moved toward annexation of Hawaii, and enlarged the civil-service system.
US presidents in the 20th century include three more native Ohioans. William McKinley (1843–1901) was born in Niles. Elected in 1896 as the 25th president, he established the gold standard and maintained tariff protection for US manufactures. Early in his second term, while greeting a throng of people, he was shot to death by a young anarchist. William Howard Taft (1857–1930), of Cincinnati, was the 27th US president. He gained a national reputation in 1904 as President Theodore Roosevelt's secretary of war; five years later, he succeeded Roosevelt in the White House. Defeated in 1912, Taft then left Washington for a law professorship at Yale. In 1921, under President Warren G. Harding (1865–1923), he became US chief justice, serving in that office until a month before his death. Harding, the last Ohioan to win the White House, was born in Blooming Grove. He went into politics from journalism, after serving as editor of the Marion Star. After eight years in the US Senate, he was a dark-horse candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1920. He won the election from James M. Cox (1870–1957), another Ohio journalist-politician, and became the 29th US president. Harding, who died in office, was surrounded by graft and corruption in his own cabinet.
Three US vice presidents were natives of Ohio. Thomas A. Hendricks (1819–85) was elected on the Democratic ticket with Grover Cleveland in 1884. Charles W. Fairbanks (1852–1918) served from 1905 to 1909 under Theodore Roosevelt. Charles Gates Dawes (1865–1951) became vice president under Calvin Coolidge in 1925, the same year the Dawes Plan for reorganizing German finances brought him the Nobel Peace Prize; from 1929 to 1932, he served as US ambassador to Great Britain.
Three Ohioans served as chief justice on the Supreme Court: Salmon P. Chase (b.New Hampshire, 1808–73), Morrison R. Waite (b.Connecticut, 1816–88), and Taft. Most notable among nearly 40 cabinet officers from Ohio were Secretary of State Lewis Cass (b.New Hampshire, 1783–1866), Treasury Secretaries Chase and John Sherman (1823–1900), and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton (1814–69). William Tecumseh Sherman (1820–91) was a Union general in the Civil War whose Georgia campaign in 1864 helped effect the surrender of the Confederacy. Although disappointed in his quest for the presidency, US Senator Robert A. Taft (1889–1953) was an enduring figure, best remembered for his authorship of the Taft-Hartley Labor Management Relations Act of 1947.
Nobel Prize winners from Ohio include Dawes and physicists Arthur Compton (1892–1962) and Donald Glaser (b.1926). Notable Pulitzer Prize winners include novelist Louis Bromfield (1896–1956), dramatist Russell Crouse (1893–1966), historian Paul Herman Buck (1899–1979), and historian and biographer Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (b.1917). Ohio writers of enduring fame are novelists William Dean Howells (1837–1920), Zane Grey (1875–1939), and Sherwood Anderson (1876–1941), whose short story collection Winesburg, Ohio was set in his hometown of Clyde; poets Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906) and Hart Crane (1899–1932); and humorist James Thurber (1894–1961). Toni Morrison (b.1931), winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for literature and the 1993 Nobel Prize for literature, was born in Lorain, Ohio. Among Ohio's eminent journalists are Whitelaw Reid (1837–1912), satirists David R. Locke (1833–88) and Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914), columnist O. O. McIntyre (1884–1938), newsletter publisher W. M. Kiplinger (1891–1967), and James Reston (b.Scotland, 1909–95), an editor and columnist for the New York Times along with author-commentator Lowell Thomas (1892–1981). Important in the art world were painters Thomas Cole (b.England, 1801–48), Frank Duveneck (b.Kentucky, 1848–1919), and George Bellows (1882–1925), as well as architects Cass Gilbert (1859–1934) and Philip Johnson (b.1906). Defense lawyer Clarence Darrow (1857–1938) was also an Ohioan.
Ohio educators whose books taught reading, writing, and arithmetic to the nation's schoolchildren were William Holmes McGuffey (b.Pennsylvania, 1800–73), Platt R. Spencer (1800–64), and Joseph Ray (1807–65). In higher education, Horace Mann (b.Massachusetts, 1796–1859) was the first president of innovative Antioch College, and William Rainey Harper (1856–1906) founded the University of Chicago.
Several Ohio-born inventor-scientists have furthered the nation's industrial progress. Thomas A. Edison (1847–1931) produced the incandescent lamp, the phonograph, and the movie camera. Charles Brush (1849–1929) invented the arc light. JohnH. Patterson (1844–1922) helped develop the cash register. The Wright brothers, Orville (1871–1948) and Wilbur (b.Indiana, 1867–1912), made the first flight in a powered aircraft. Charles F. Kettering (1876–1958) invented the automobile self-starter. Ohio's leading industrialist was John D. Rockefeller (b.New York, 1839–1937), founder of Standard Oil of Ohio. Harvey S. Firestone (1868–1938) started the tire company that bears his name. Edward "Eddie" Rickenbacker (1890–1973), an ace pilot in World War I, was president of Eastern Airlines.
The most notable Ohioans in the entertainment field are markswoman Annie Oakley (Phoebe Anne Oakley Mozee, 1860–1926); movie actors Clark Gable (1901–60) and Roy Rogers (Leonard Slye, 1912–98); movie director Stephen Spielberg (b.1947); comedian Bob Hope (Leslie Townes Hope, b.England, 1903–2003); actors Paul Newman (b.1925), Hal Holbrook (b.1925), and Joel Grey (b.1932); jazz pianist Art Tatum (1910–56); and composer Henry Mancini (1924–94). Leading sports figures from Ohio are boxing champion Jim Jeffries (1875–1953), racing driver Barney Oldfield (1878–1946), baseball pitcher Cy Young (1867–1955), baseball executive Branch Rickey (1881–1965), baseball star Peter "Pete" Rose (b.1941) who broke Ty Cobb's record for the most hits, track star Jesse Owens (b.Alabama, 1912–80), jockey George Edward "Eddie" Arcaro (1916–97), and golfer Jack Nicklaus (b.1940).
Astronauts from Ohio include John Glenn (b.1921), the first American to orbit the earth, who was elected US senator from Ohio in 1974; and Neil Armstrong (b.1930), the first man to walk on the moon.