May 9, 2024 - History

Throwback Thursday: New book features Ohio presidents

A map of U.S. President birth sites and tombs in Ohio
Data: Axios Research; Map: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

Historian Heather S. Cole hopes her new book out this week about Ohio's presidential history will reassure those fatigued by the messiness of modern politics.

Why it matters: America has survived many presidential controversies of years past, Cole tells Axios a worthy lesson in the midst of an election year.

One example: Rutherford B. Hayes, born right here in Delaware, won the highly disputed election of 1876 that involved conflicting state electors, months of arguing and an eventual Electoral College margin of just one vote.

  • "What's old is new," Cole says.

Flashback: Ohio is the birthplace of seven presidents who served between 1869 and 1923.

  • That's a seemingly short timespan, but Ohioans played a major role shaping the country during Civil War Reconstruction, economic expansion during the Gilded Age and the Prohibition Era.
  • Another president, William Henry Harrison, was born in Virginia but elected in 1840 while living near Cincinnati.

The intrigue: Virginia therefore has eight native presidents to Ohio's seven, but we tend to claim Harrison to help match their total.

  • Both states claim to be the "Mother of Presidents."

Between the lines: Cole is caught in the middle as a Virginia native with Ohio relatives from Boardman and Toledo.

Check it out: The Ohio Presidential Trail offers nearly two dozen sites across the state to explore.

A William McKinley statue outside the Ohio Statehouse.
The William McKinley monument faces away from the Ohio Statehouse toward the old Neil House Hotel in tribute to his wife, Ida, who lived there while he served as governor. Photo: Glasshouse Vintage/Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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