Cincinnati has produced its share of notables. Currently, Nick Lechey seems to be the most famous Cincinnatian. Before that, it was Jerry Springer, who moved to Chicago. Even before he became ringmaster of a televised freak show, Springer provided hours of entertainment having been the only sitting mayor caught doing business with a prostitute.
And passing her a bad check.
So no one here is surprised what’s become of Jerry Springer since leaving Cincinnati. The rest of you are just finding out what we always knew.
But Cincinnati also has its fair share of presidents. Thankfully, Springer is ineligible (He was born in London) and no one will ever elect John Boehner to the White House. The Queen City, though, has either sired or played host to four US presidents.
[More My Town Mondays posts with Travis]
West of the city is the town of North Bend, home of the Harrison estate. After his term as governor of the Indiana Territory, General William Henry Harrison made his home on a farm in North Bend and became the Cincinnati area’s most prominent citizen in the early days of Ohio.
Harrison is famous for a lot of things: He learned medicine from Founding Father Benjamin Rush. His father was also a Founding Father, Benjamin Harrison V of Virginia. He later fought Indians and the British in the War of 1812 and famously berated Simon Bolivar on how to start a democracy in the Americas.
But Harrison is most famous for dying in office after only 31 days.
East of the city in the tiny hamlet of Point Pleasant, one of the giants of the Civil War was born in 1822. Born Hiram Ulysses Grant, he changed his name upon acceptance to West Point to Ulysses S. Grant.
Grant was never much of anything but a soldier, but he excelled as a soldier. As Lincoln’s top general, Grant dragged military strategy kicking and screaming out of the age of Napoleon by throwing sheer numbers of troops at his enemies. Wars, he reasoned, were destructive and could only be won destructively. Yet soldiers must maintain honor, and his most famous achievement is handing Confederate General Robert E. Lee back his sword after Lee surrendered at Appamattox Courthouse.
As president, Grant was…
Did I mention Grant was a great soldier?
The next president from Cincinnati comes from the late 1800’s, when presidents were more famous for their facial hair than their political achievements. Born on the Harrison farm in North Bend, William H. Harrison’s grandson Benjamin eventually left the Cincinnati area to practice law in Indianapolis.
Harrison’s claim to fame was keeping Grover Cleveland’s seat warm between Cleveland’s two non-consecutive terms. However, companies such as Standard Oil, IBM, AT&T, and Microsoft have reasons to dislike the younger Harrison. They’ve all run afoul of the Sherman Antitrust Act Harrison signed.
Finally, we come to the last and biggest (literally) president to hail from Cincinnati. His family name is all over the city, and his great-grandson, Robert III, was recently Ohio’s first convicted sitting governor. William Howard Taft, however, was a tad smarter than Bob Taft.
Originally a disciple of Theodore Roosevelt, Taft continued some of TR’s reforms, but also became Roosevelt’s rival when TR decided he wanted a third term in 1912. The resulting schism in the Republican Party resulted in Woodrow Wilson’s presidency.
Taft, however, wasn’t done. He later became Chief Justice.
Will there ever be another president from Cincinnati? Right now, there don’t seem to be any candidates. John Boehner has become something of a joke since the GOP’s losses last November, and Rob Portman, my former Congressman and one of the more respected members of the Bush Administration, doesn’t seem to want anything more than to be either governor or senator from Ohio. And what of Mayor Mark Mallory?
Puh-leaze. Reagan rode horses. Bush, Sr, jumps out of airplanes in his eighties. Clinton jogs. George W. clears his own brush, and Obama shoots hoops. America will never elect a president who can’t throw a baseball.