Ringing hammers, swinging cranes, the hot breath of furnaces and the gush of molten metal, a skyline ringed with belching smokestacks--the energy of industry, both in manufacturing and in old-fashioned human diligence, has fueled Ohio since its earliest history as the first state in the Northwest Territory.
From Harvey Firestone's rubber rims for buggy wheels to John Leon Bennet's wire flyswatter, from O. C. Barber's first book matches to Dr. Edwin Beeman's flavored chewing gum, Ohio has buzzed with inventive drive and creativity. The Wright brothers flew a winged crate over a Dayton cow pasture; Stephen Foster allegedly wrote "Oh Susanna" while working as a bookkeeper in a Cincinnati riverfront shipping office; and Ohio native Victoria Claflin Woodhull declared herself the first woman presidential candidate. The state also produced some of the Civil War's greatest leaders, including Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman.
Havighurst gives a moving portrayal of Welsh inventor Samuel Milton Jones, who made his fortune with a device used in oil production and then turned his energies to creating his own "new deal" for his factory workers and, as mayor of Toledo, for his constituency. At the other end of the scale, shrewd, autocratic George B. Cox ruled Cincinnati through a sticky web of back-room corruption.
Focusing on the people who stamped the state with their vision, Havighurst captures the vibrancy and ingenuity of Ohio's inventors, manufacturers, leaders and dreamers, as well as the consequences, for the land and its inhabitants, of unchecked industrial excesses.
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