Ohio and Its People

Ohio and Its People

Ohio and Its People

Ohio and Its People

Synopsis

The Bicentennial Edition of Ohio and Its People is a revised and updated volume of this bestselling work and includes a new final chapter examining Ohio through the end of the twentieth century. Author George W. Knepper presents contemporary information on the national and state political arenas, the economy as it affects Ohio, the economic and environmental revival of Cleveland, and an updated bibliography. Ohio and Its People remains a wonderful classroom text and history of Ohio.

Excerpt

On July 4, 1827, the canal boat the State of Ohio, filled with revelers, made its way into the village of Cleveland, thus inaugurating traffic on the first leg of the Ohio & Erie Canal. In the daylong festivities that followed, Alfred Kelley a young Cleveland businessman and a state canal commissioner, proposed a toast: “The PEOPLE of the state of Ohio for their accomplishments despite their youth, poverty, diversity, and sectional jealousies.” Youth and poverty were soon overcome, but the diversity of Ohio's people and their resulting sectional jealousies would continue to be a feature of the seventeenth state for decades to come.

States love to boast of their unique aspects, but Ohio's claim to fame is the antithesis of uniqueness. Indeed, Ohio's most important quality has been its representative character, and probably no other state contained so broad a sampling of American types in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Ohio was a salad bowl of peoples, not a melting pot. Within its borders were significant numbers of New Englanders, Middle States people, and Upland southerners, as well as smaller representations from the Tidewater. Quakers, Pennsylvania Dutch (Pietist Germans), free blacks, and escaped slaves added to the mix from the beginning of statehood. Every significant immigrant group contributed to the state's social mix, with the German and Irish contingents among the earliest and most significant.

Most of these newcomers tended to settle close by others of their kind, each group bringing along its distinct “cultural baggage.” Yet no single group was strong enough to impose its traditions upon the others. Until well into the twentieth century many of these cultural enclaves retained enough of their original character that they continued to exhibit distinct social and political behavior; the various groups remained distinct, standing out from their neighbors. Ultimately . . .

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