Ohio always receives a lot of attention leading up to a presidential election. Candidates from both parties make countless stops to our state because they understand the importance that Ohio can have on the outcome of the election. In the past 12 presidential contests, the candidate who won Ohio went on to win the presidency, which shows that our state is representative of the entire country and certainly has its fingers on the pulse of public opinion.
The significance of Ohio on the office of the president is not a recent phenomenon. In fact, eight presidents were either born in Ohio or were living in Ohio at the time of their election—tied with Virginia for the most of any state.
Although the list of Ohio’s presidents may not win a popularity contest, they have made some historic contributions to our country. Ulysses S. Grant, for example, signed legislation that established Yellowstone as America’s first national park. In 1879, Rutherford B. Hayes signed a bill allowing female attorneys to argue cases before the US Supreme Court.
Unfortunately, Ohio also has the distinction of having the first president to die while in office, when William Henry Harrison—Ohio’s first president—died of pneumonia shortly after entering the White House. In fact, he only served as president for a couple months. Additionally, James A. Garfield was shot only six months after taking office and died the same year; William McKinley was assassinated early in his second term; and Warren G. Harding died of a heart attack, cutting his presidency short.
If nothing else, these tragic events should make us appreciate the immense pressure that is bestowed upon our presidents. February 20th is President’s Day, a day when our nation celebrates and honors the leadership and sacrifices of our presidents—men who have led the country through both good times and bad. Originally created to honor George Washington, over the years President’s Day has expanded to pay tribute to all of our presidents—though it still primarily pays homage to Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
During the next several months, we will undoubtedly hear about Ohio’s important role in determining the upcoming presidential election. But President’s Day is a great time to remember and honor the leaders who have come before us in history, who have shaped our nation and who have helped guide us through some of the country’s most difficult times.
One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite leaders: “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.” –Abraham Lincoln.
President Lincoln was a wise man indeed.