The History of Aviation in Dayton
Lord Northcliffe, in his visit to Dayton in 1918 to present to Orville Wright the medal of the Society of Arts and Science of Great Britain, is authority for the statement that in spite of many contradictory claims, Dayton is really the first home of aviation. With the many who were attempting the conquest of the air it is but natural that there should have been discussion on this point. But nothing was more conclusive than the statements of the great British editor and statesman that no person or no place could go down in history as the center of this stupendous achievement but Orville Wright and Dayton, Ohio.
This being conceded it is interesting to study the conceptions in the minds of the two brothers who conceived the airplane and the developments in the city of their birth. To begin with, the whole thing was play, the absorption of two boys. in a clever mechanical toy brought home to them by their father. This was in the eighties in the home of Bishop Wright on the West Side. It was a sort of self-propelling kite which when loosed from the hand at a distance from the ground did not immediately fall but hovered and balanced and fluttered until the force of gravity was completely overcome. Being clever with tools, the brothers made one like it and were delighted that their toy behaved just as the manufactured one did. Then they made another which also few, then, still experimenting, they constructed one twice as large, and behold, it dropped like a plummet to the floor and refused to fly at all ! Here was a puzzle, and the very failure of it was a challenge. We know now that in doubling the size of their machine they should have quadrupled the power-a principle they did not then understand. The very mystery which to some minds would have spelled discouragement was to the Wright brothers the most potent impelling force. Kite flying had always been a favorite diversion and this new occupation was but a branch of it. They saw the first toy stay afloat for an appreciable length of time, held up by the air; a kite flew indefinitely under wind pressure : why could not a machine be made which would do both? If a kite lifted its own weight why not-if strong enough-that of a man? Curiosity prompted these questions and the play instinct drove the brothers on. As the tests proceeded, the enterprise absorbed all their time. From mere play it developed into "sport," and from sport gradually came the revelation of a scientific principle as yet undiscovered.
In all their work the Wright brothers were not in the least amateur dabblers but serious scientific observers and experimenters. Moreover, they had a colossal capacity for work. No difficulty was too great for them, since it presented only added incentives to accomplishment. They were omnivorous readers, assimilating everything that had been written on aviation, the principles of wind currents, the "mathematics of the air." In addition they had a colossal capacity for work if it led them in the direction of a new truth. But we are getting ahead of the story. From 1890 to 1900 was the period of greatest activity in aeronautics. The gas supported balloon was an improvement upon previous airships, as Santos (page 189) Dumont worked it out. Count Zeppelin at Lake Constance made the balloon into a sausage shaped affair which was capable of being steered-the "dirigible." Lilienthal had discovered that the great problem was to be found in the air currents and had worked out a table of logarithms comparable to those used by mariners at sea. Here in Dayton the Wrights kept steadily at work trying everything out and being dissatisfied with all accomplishment, chiefly their own. To fly in the air with a heavier-than-air machine was the fascinating chimera which led them on. Local history does not state how much ridicule the Wrights had to accept as they continued at work at this impossible "pipe dream," but it is safe to say they had more than their share. But nobody now ever mentions Darius Green in their presence. All the fun they made for scoffers in the 90's they could well afford to enjoy in the nineteens. Four years of study preceded their first experiments. No one was taken into their confidence. Day after day they worked in the shabby little shop on west Third street. The first definite idea in their minds was to construct a machine to be flown as a kite, in winds with a velocity of from fifteen to twenty miles an hour, and to be operated by levers through cords from the ground. Thus far, of course, it was mere play with a streak running through it of something that would one day astonish the world-only, being very modest boys and not given to bragging, even mentally, they never mentioned this thought. The first requisite was to find a place to experiment in. A wind-swept plain was what they needed and, consulting the Weather Bureau at Washington, they were informed that the Carolina sea coast at Kitty Hawk, near Cape Hatteras, offered satisfactory advantages. Here then, the brothers travelled, and on a lonely strip of land many miles from nowhere, a shop was constructed out of rough lumber, a camp fitted up and in the fall of 1900 experiments began.
What was called a "glider" was first constructed in which a man could lie, face down at full length. Started at the top of a long hill, with somebody to push it of, this rude machine did get of the ground but what it succeeded in doing was only coasting down hill on the air. After a short flight, gravity was sure to pull it earthwards and it landed sometimes whole, sometimes in a mess.
The great difficulty was in calculating air pressures. They could get up all right if they could succeed in staying up and lighting without a wreck.
Up to this time the brothers had adhered faithfully to the tables worked out by Lilienthal but it was presently seen that his calculations did not go far enough. There came a day when the Lilienthal tables were completely discarded and original tables of air mathematics worked out. A contrivance called a "wind-tunnel" was constructed to measure the force of air currents. They had discovered that the pressure of wind at a certain velocity varies as it strikes upon different surfaces-one certain pressure upon a square plane, another on a triangular one-that, moreover, it varies according to the thickness of a plane, the curve of the wing, the shape of the edge-no structural variation was too insignificant to exert an influence on the lifting power of the mechanism.
(page 190) Having succeeded in building a machine that would carry itself in a gliding fight, a man was put on board to do the guiding and the ground ropes dispensed with. All this took three years. Then the gas engine came along and furnished the necessary propulsive power. The commercial variety of the engine did not, however, satisfy the requirements of the airplane and the brothers were obliged to make a special one, adapting it to their particular uses. Imagine the endless experiments, the discouraging failures, the few bewildering successes, the heated arguments between the brothers on every possible debatable point, in which, we are told, they would sometimes argue in a circle, each one coming finally to the view of his opponent and holding to it as stubbornly as if it had been his original proposition.
December 17, 1903, was "The Day" on which flight was actually made. With no ground ropes, with improved engine, with contributing winds, the clumsy machine, weighing seven hundred and fifty pounds, rose on the wind, steadied itself under control, stayed up for fifty-one seconds and landed without wrecking. That seventeenth of December is a date that revolutionized the world. There was no doubt about the achievement, it was heavier than air, it had gone up and had stayed up an appreciable length of time. The Wrights were famous though they did not know it yet. Naturally, from that time flying became to those two, the one soul and body absorbing object and occupation in life. That single minute in the air made the difference between a glowing hypothesis and an amazing reality.
Having accomplished what they set out to do, the Wrights came back to Dayton. Through the generosity of Torrence Huffman, a field known as "Huffman’s Prairie," of large extent and fat surface, eight miles east of the city, was granted to them for use in experiments. It is unnecessary to say that nobody believed they could do what they said they had done. Even when they had so far perfected their plans as to be ready to demonstrate, could they be accepted seriously. They were granted fine fellows and popular with their friends, but as for flying-a smile and a shrug left the sentence unfinished. Each time that an effort was made to bring together representative Dayton people something happened to spoil the show. They had "engine trouble," springs broke and had to be replaced at the shop ; every faulty piece of mechanism took time to duplicate and in the meantime the public interest waned. Therefore, after inviting newspaper men to see something that refused to happen the two inventors ceased trying to impress a world that didn't care and kept right on perfecting their machine. A New York daily heard of the experiments that were going on in Dayton and it struck the editorial office as such a huge joke that a special writer was sent out to do the story up for the Sunday edition. The reporters came and saw and were conquered. They perched on the fence near the shed where the airplane was kept; they saw the doors pushed open by a pair of ordinary looking men in mechanic's clothes (the Wrights never "dressed up") ; they saw a machine with wings pushed forward and the engine begin to whir. They saw it trundle along the hummocky ground like a (page 191) huge unwieldy bird, getting up speed, and while they looked they saw it rise from the ground as easily as a motor gets under way ; they saw it circle and wheel and dip and glide, high in the ether above their heads and then circle and circle down, down, down, until, with a last sighing whir, it came. to a stop just where it had started out. That Sunday feature "roast" of the Wright brothers never came out. What the newspaper men told when they went back to New York at last filtered into the consciousness of Dayton. Had we such heroes of the air in our midst? Let us go and see. And we found out. Here in Dayton, plain old Dayton, Stephenson, Fulton and Morse were all outdone. That fight of a machine weighing one thousand pounds will go down in history as one of the marvelous accomplishments of human ingenuity.
It counts to our mortification now that the outside world, not only New York, but Europe as well, were the first to honor the Wrights. These two "prophets without honor in their own country" were received by the King of England, decorated by the King of Italy and the Emperor of Germany, feted in France, acted as instructors of its mysteries to Alfonso of Spain, who climbed into the airplane under the pressure of enthusiasm ; acclaimed by thousands at the flying fields in six or seven countries in Europe before Dayton got her glad hand in to do its work.
The only thing that can be said in extenuation was that the welcome home, when it did occur, was as genuine as it was wholesouled, and that for once we put our greatest efforts towards making the "Wright Celebration" the greatest function ever held in Dayton. It lasted for three days during which time every man, woman and child in the city lent a hand. There was •a presentation of government and state medals at the fair grounds, when ten thousand school children sat on a platform so grouped that their red, white and blue dresses made a huge fag, while they sang patriotic songs. There was a procession miles long, with floats showing the progress of transportation from the days of the ox-cart and the palanquin to the days of the automobile and the airplane; there were speeches in which the speakers tried to make the Wrights forget how late Dayton was in her appreciation; there were songs and streets bedecked
with flags and banners ; there were fireworks at night reflected in the mirror waters of the Miami; there were banquets and luncheons and newspaper stories, all destined to make our illustrious fellow citizens realize that their home city was proud of them. And it is to be believed that they at last did.
But for some time, it is astonishing to say, the appreciation bid fair to rest with the speeches and the fireworks. Much more remained to be done which we were very slow in doing. Dayton should have immediately established those facilities which every inventor needs to carry on his work. And from that we should have progressed to be the manufacturing center of the world's activity in airplanes. Again we were slow. The French made remarkable strides in the production of planes ; England threatened to give more credit to some of her own inventors than to the Wrights.
For a time it seemed as if we were to rest content with having supplied the air for our inventors to breathe. It was the war that (page 192) saved us from this misfortune. The story of the Dayton-Wright Airplane factory and its quota furnished to the government in the war, the acquisition of the flying course at Wright field, set us at last on the plane where we should always have been, the home not only of the invention of aviation but the center of airplane production and aeronautics.
Numerous inventions have been added by Orville Wright since the lamented death of his elder brother, to the perfected plane. One of these is the automatic stabilizer which renders the machine virtually "Foolproof" and almost enables it to "fly itself." Once of the ground the pilot has much less to do than the ordinary observer thinks. The difficulty always is to alight, no automatic "Alighter" being as yet in evidence.
Development of the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company. Going south from Dayton and after crossing the Miami river at the "Bluffs," the traveler in the electric or steam cars looks out upon an extensive assemblage of buildings where a short year before nothing existed except the cornfields and pastures of the valley. This plant, consisting of factory shed, warehouses and airdomes, surrounding a brick and concrete building a thousand feet long, is known as Moraine City. It came up like a mushroom in the night to meet the needs of the government at war. At present, the demand for bombing planes having ceased, the force is depleted and the output changed, but as it was at its prime the Dayton-Wright Airplane company deserves description as one of the phenomenal enterprises in manufacturing in the history of the Miami valley.
It may not be amiss to recall the steps by which this industry came into the sudden existence that it did. When the United States became a factor in the world struggle for freedom, little if any attention had been paid to the airplane industry. Here and there in the nation, plants had been engaged in work of this kind. In Dayton research and laboratory work were still going on in a shop somewhat larger than that to the Third street repair shop, and Orville Wright had perfected devices and designs for airplane construction.
Congress failed to appropriate a sufficient sum to warrant any great strides being taken in either industrial or scientific lines to increase the production. It was only when President Wilson sounded the call to arms that thought first turned directly to this much-neglected industry. The war, up to that time, had disclosed the potentiality of the airplane and Germany had developed an aptitude for quick and successful production and success in air fighting. The Allies were hard pressed for aerial fighting machines and throughout the length and breadth of the United States sounded the cry, "Build us airplanes. Airplanes will win the war." Some newspaper, with more enthusiasm than practical knowledge of the game, declared that the nation would have 25,000 airplanes in France by July, 1918.
In view of the facts, as they seem to be pretty well established today, the total number of available planes for service in France at any one time previous to America's entry into the war, was less than 2,500, and this included the German supply as well as the (page 193) allied reserve power along this line-these newspapers, unintentionally, perhaps, drew a picture of air supremacy on the part of America that was spread before the people of the old world as well as the new and created a general misapprehension. It was an air castle built up of impossibilities. In the light of subsequent statements made by army officials, it is now definitely known that no plans were in contemplation incorporating any such figures in airplane building by the United States war department.
The great game was practically untried in this country ; great industries would have to be established and highly skilled workmen assembled before production could come to pass. It is a matter of record that officials at Washington would have been highly satisfied if all the factories in the country had been able to turn out one thousand planes for overseas service during the first year of the war. But whatever the army plans prepared for or believed possible, it is a matter of established record that the Dayton-Wright Airplane company did equip its plant, did bring together thousands of workmen from their former peaceful pursuits (many of whom had not the slightest idea of the construction of an airplane), and did turn over to the government for overseas shipment, one thousand fully equipped, federal-tested and approved airplanes for Gen. Pershing
a record that is perhaps without an equal in the history of industry in America. It was a thoroughly American method of getting busy with approved results and it marked a new era in airplane building both at home and abroad. The demand was unique. Foreign airplane plants working at top speed could scarcely supply their own armies, to say nothing of giving help to ours. Thereupon the nation set about accomplishing what was believed to be impossible-the furnishing of our own army with battle planes needed on the shortest notice. The original plans of the Dayton-Wright Airplane company comprised the taking over of a plant 120 feet by 170 in dimensions in the northern part of Dayton, near the Dayton Metal Products company, where speedy co-operation in the making of airplanes might be possible. It was soon clearly seen that such a plan was not sufficiently comprehensive and H. E. Talbott, as president of the Dayton Metal Products company and one of the stockholders in the Dayton Wright company, in consultation with his son, Harold Talbott, jr., president of the latter concern, and Charles F. Kettering, the other owner, agreed that the project was too big to be confined in the sized building contemplated at first. About this time the Domestics Engineering company, manufacturing the Delco light, was completing a mammoth concrete building at Moraine City, a thousand feet long and one story high, the largest building of its kind in Ohio up to that time. Private industry must wait, Col. Talbott declared, while the demand from the government was so great. The thought was father to the swift action which followed. The Domestics Engineering company's plant was taken over and enlarged until it became the main building in the airplane plant 200 feet in width and 2,500 feet in length, an ample and sufficient home for the new and exacting industry. During the course of the year that followed, four additional buildings were constructed by the company, not to mention smaller structures, and the taking (page 194) over of a dismantled plant at Miamisburg and utilizing it for the developing of smaller parts. The officers who stood responsible for this industrial feat were H. E. Talbott, president; Thomas P. Gaddis, secretary ; Carl Sherer, treasurer. H. E. Talbott was president of the board of directors, associated with C. F. Kettering, H. E. Talbott, jr., George Mead and G. M. Williams.
It must be recalled that just as the invention of the airplane began in play, so the quantity production had its rise in the fad of a rich man. Col. E. A. Deeds, whose country home lies in the same direction south of Dayton, built upon his estate an airdrome and a flying field. It was his pet interest to watch the developments in the new science and try out some of them in his own place. He kept several types of machine in the hangars and on pleasant days the aviators could be seen rising and descending upon the field. When war broke out this instance of devotion to the conquering of the air occurred to Howard Coffin, president of the Council of National Defense, the result of which was the wiring to Col. Deeds and Col. Talbott to consult with him in Washington. Six weeks were spent by them in daily consultation, at the end of which time the men who had begun aviation as a fad were to continue it as the largest function in the winning of the war.
In July, 1917, the company was incorporated and the building acquired as has been described. Too much can not be said of the initial difficulties in this untried venture. It was a case of the blind leading the blind. Much necessary raw material was not to be had. Linen for wings, oil for lubricating, spruce for framework, all had to be procured under extraordinary difficulties. Only five or six men in the company knew anything about the mechanism of an airplane, and not one of them had any experience in quantity production. Their force of mechanics numbered only forty men. This number rapidly grew to a total of seven thousand, both men and women. Up to March, 1918, the production was limited to training planes, of which five hundred had been completed, but as soon as the release from the government was secured, enabling them to proceed with the manufacture of battle-planes, the pace was set for rapid .; ork. By the following July one thousand fully equipped battle-planes had been constructed, another thousand were finished by October, and the production rate of a thousand a month definitely established. This marks a record rate in industrial production. It was no miracle except it be the miracle of organization and efficiency. The secret of such high-water production seemed to be in a highly organized progressive system of manufacture by which no time was wasted in useless transfers from department to department. The receiving rooms were-situated just at the entrance of the factory building, into which all raw materials of wood, metal, etc., entered ; from there they passed, by an admirable trucking system, into the first department, then into the second, each part being fitted as it went for its place in the finished machine. All these parts gathered at last into the assembling room at the extreme farthest end of the plant, emerged from the hands of the assembling force a complete airplane ready for trial flight and shipment to France.
(page 195) In the midst of this frenzied speed of production it must not be imagined that the Wright-Airplane company were careless of that unwritten principle that an employer owes more to his operatives than wages. Dwellings of the most modern type were being rapidly constructed in the vicinity of the works for rental or sale at a nominal figure to the heads of departments. Employees coming to and going from their work were accommodated with omnibuses to take them to the train. Workrooms and rest rooms were up to the highest sanitary requirements; the company maintained a home in the center of Dayton where girls could find temporary accommodations until suitable living quarters were supplied. Haste in business demands made no excuse for overlooking the fact that employed girls deserve as good care as the daughters of the employers. A commissary was established where seven thousand operatives obtained at cost price a good meal each noon. Lectures and concerts gave both instruction and entertainment to the force. A fine band composed of members of the force. supplied music for the evening entertainments.
Most particularly were the educational features illustrated in what was called the "Dayton Industrial institute," although that plan was in no sense a part of the welfare system. The requirement for skilled men and women workers made necessary some plan for the development of employees. A school was conducted in a downtown building where 30,000 square feet of floor space gave opportunity for the technical work of the classes. This school took the willing but "green" workers and, by means of special teachers, converted them into trained mechanics and office help. The specific thing emphasized in this school was that half-developed minds and bodies are a real hindrance not-only to their owners but to the company which employs them. The average class contained forty members who all received the same pay as when at work in the
In thus training its employees the Dayton-Wright Airplane company served a two-fold purpose-it assisted itself materially by affording its own plant with skilled and specialized labor and it developed a high class of mechanics which, now that the war is over, will be available for various industrial enterprises. Specific attention was paid to the training of men whose duties in the plant lay along the line of handling the world-famous Liberty motor. No point was overlooked for enhancing the value of these men to the plant, and through the plant to the needs of the nation at home and overseas. Especially were the foremen in the inspection, wood and linen departments encouraged to be in constant attendance at the classes. Twice a week the foremen, to the number of one hundred, used to meet to compare observations and experiences. Naturally many new problems were met with from time to time, in work which is new to all. The Foreman's club was intended to meet such emergencies. What was called a "Foreman's test" was sent to each member and at the fortnightly meeting these questions were taken up and dealt with in turn.
The future of the airplane will be to knit together the nations of the earth in a mail and perhaps a passenger service. No one can (page 196) foresee the scope of its acceptance. In the meantime the great experiment of quantity production has been supremely solved in the factory at Moraine City. It is no longer experimental, and when the nation again calls for airplanes, to whatever figure, the means will be at hand to meet the demand.
Dayton's City Government Known as "The Dayton Plan"
Not long after the tremendous days of the food, Isaac Marcosson, the writer, used these words in a magazine article: "Down in Dayton things are doing. Out of the mud and mire have been distilled loyalty, love, organization and brotherhood. From an overgrown village Dayton comes into the limelight as a city set on a hill. If the things being done in Dayton had only a local significance they would not be worth recording, but the eyes of the world are upon Dayton. There a new system of municipal government is being worked out. Dayton is moving in the right direction. She is in the vanguard pointing the way."
Six years after these words were penned it is a pride to acknowledge that nothing has been done to forfeit them. Dayton is still in the vanguard and points the way, and does it not only with the faith born of good purposes but from sufficient experience to demonstrate her accomplishments. The story, made as brief as the space allowed will permit is this:
It began in the minds of some of the citizens of Dayton before the flood, but it was the drastic lessons of that disaster that brought it into an actuality. Public opinion had long been in favor of a change. Our municipal government suffered from the same faults as that of other cities. It was hopelessly partisan, inefficient, bungling and, if reports were true, in some cases dishonest. It was not only a case of individuals but of plan and principles. If good men were elected to office they found personal initiative difficult and individual probity almost impossible. The city was governed by an old fashioned council made up of members from each ward, elected by the party "machine”; without regard for personal fitness. Their duty to their own precinct often required them to forget their duty to the whole. Important measures were buried in committees, votes were traded between members, favoritism shown to those having a certain "pull," ordinary measures of health and public welfare disregarded, while the sessions were taken up in wrangles over trifling matters ; money was appropriated and then lost sight of, the city constantly in debt and living ahead of its income. In short, the experience of Dayton coincided with that of many other municipalities and fixed the conviction in the minds of the best authorities in civics that the federal plan formulated for national administration, with its state representation, while satisfactory for the control of national affairs, was quite unsuited to the needs of a city. The evils it inevitably led to were those of political rewards, official inefficiency, "ward bosses," government by party principles instead of by expert experience-in short the substitution of party loyalty to local patriotism.
(page 197) Primarily it was a case for legislation and steps to that end were begun as early as 1912, resulting in September of that year in the passage of an amendment to the state constitution providing for "home rule" for cities of Dayton's class. Immediately upon the adoption of this law, the Chamber of Commerce of Dayton took the first step toward availing themselves of its provisions and appointed a committee of five leading business men to investigate different kinds of existing municipal governments. They had heard of the "Galveston plan" of government by commission, according to scientific and business principles, also of the European plan of government by burgomaster or city manager. Both these plans were given intensive examination. The members of this committee were J. H. Patterson, E. C. Harley, Frederick H. Rike, George B. Smith and Leopold Rauh. The appointments were made by George B. Smith, then president of the Chamber of Commerce. From October, when the committee began its investigations, to January 17th, when the report was brought in, these citizens gave almost exclusive time (of their own) to the matter. Their recommendation, as embodied in the report, was that Dayton should adopt the commission form of government, which had been found so successful in Galveston, with an added feature not found in any other of the existing forms of government. This feature was the employment of a business manager to oversee and direct the general administrative work of the various city departments. The recommendation was adopted promptly, but much remained to be done before the new arrangement could be perfected.
First, public opinion must be educated, for it was far from the purpose of the committee to foist upon an uninformed citizenry an experiment that still awaited proof of its value. The Federated Improvement association, which had done yeoman work in the interest of the Home Rule amendment, worked assiduously to obtain the best thought and experience which the country afforded in relation to the commission form of government. In the meantime the state legislature was awaiting the opinions of experts such as Mayor Newton D. Baker of Cleveland. Herbert S. Bigelow of Cincinnati, Mayor Brand Whitlock of Toledo and Lucius E. Wilson of Des
Moines. The last, in a trip to Columbus, stopped of at Dayton and added his testimony to the value of the plan under consideration. A sum of money was then raised for purposes of propaganda in favor of a new form of government, from which much publicity resulted.
On the evening of January 19, 1913, at the Y. M. C. A., twenty-eight men met to discuss the matter of the new form of government, and that meeting has become an historic one in the annals of Dayton. For it was there that, after the resignation of the original committee, a new and larger one was formed pledged to support a charter government based upon the form indicated by the research of the former committee. There was, to be sure, definite opposition, and from the reactionary elements of all three political parties. The machine Republicans, the Democrats and the Socialists vehemently fought against a new charter. But the new forces were in the ascendant and the result of that meeting was that fifteen men received the (page 198) endorsement of the majority as a committee to write a charter embodying the Commission-Manager plan.
This was their pledge:
"We, the undersigned, believe that the Greater Dayton of the future must have the best plan of government that experience and intelligence can provide. If elected on May 20th we pledge ourselves to write a Commission-Manager Charter for Dayton and will make every legitimate effort to secure its adoption." This was signed by the following named men: John H. Patterson, Frederick H. Rike, John A. McGee, Lee Warren James, Edward E. Burkhardt, 0. B. Kniesly, Chas. W. Folkerth, Jos. B. Zehnder, E. C. Harley, C. E. Bice, W. I. Mendenhall, Leopold Rauh, E. T. Banks, W. E. Sparks, Fred Cappel.
It is worthy of mention to record the names of those who attended this meeting, the most important that ever was held in Dayton, for it will be a matter of congratulation to their children and children's children to find them so chronicled. In addition to those mentioned above as members of the new committee, they were : Don C. Westerfield, E. H. Canby, Dr. D. Frank Garland, George B. Smith, J. M. Switzer, Joseph H. Carr, Joseph Kramer, John E. Frey, Frank I. Brown, Henry Focke, Charles Grimm, E. H. Kerr, Arthur J. Stevens, Bickham W. Lair, Dr. A. A. Smith, Judge B. F. McCann, Rabbi David Lefkowitz, G. Harries Gorman, Philo G. Burnham, Lucius E. Wilson and one reporter, Bert Klopfer. Fred G. Strickland, Socialist lecturer, invited to the meeting, came shortly after nine o'clock, after the discussion had been concluded. After the organization of the Citizens' Committee, and to promote the crystallization of sentiment in favor of a non-partisan form of government and to establish a majority of supporters for the new plan among the men and women of Dayton, the following pledge cards were circulated :
"I want a city government that provides the initiative, referendum and recall. I want a commission of five citizens to legislate for Dayton under those restrictions. I want the commission to pick out for Dayton the best man that can be found for manager. I want a manager to be subject to recall and able to get one hundred cents' worth of service for every dollar expended. I want the non-partisan ballot and a city government free from machine domination. I pledge myself to speak and work for the adoption of the commission manager plan of government for Dayton."
Ten days following the first meeting another was held at the Y. M. C. A. auditorium for the purpose of public discussion of the new plan, where several hundred attended and addresses were made by Dr. Garland, E. E. Burkhardt and E. A. Deeds in favor of the new plan. Dr. D. F. McGurk of Grace Methodist church offered a motion that it be the sense of the meeting and of the committee to endorse the commission-manager form of government and strive for its adoption. John E. Frey seconded the motion and when it was put to a vote but forty out of three hundred persons present were opposed. Even this opposition melted away when Charles W. Folkerth moved that the vote be made unanimous.
(page 199) It has been told elsewhere in this history-the food which descended upon this valley with terrific suddenness in April, 1913, and left ruin in its wake. Little did that committee of investigation think when they chose the Galveston plan as a basis for our new city government that disaster similar to that which revealed the necessity of public changes to the people of that Texas city would emphasize our need to us. Those days of terror brought out the fact that in crises of life men look to the one who has a gift for leadership ; boards, committees, are useless, it is the man who takes hold of a difficult situation and brings order out of chaos that the people trust. What went before in the preparations for a new plan of government was the. merest theory. People no longer needed to be educated by means of speeches and pledge cards. The food made much loss and suffering but it carried compensations and not the least of these was the illuminating lesson that the kind of management that was successful during the days after the food was the kind of management that should be in force all the time. When the people recovered somewhat from their experiences and began to formulate new plans for living the matter of the commission manager plan came up again.
The remainder of the story is a dramatic one. The committee did as they had been bidden; wrote a charter establishing the commission-manager plan, which was submitted to the people at a special election on August 20th, and was carried by an overwhelming vote and became an established fact. Thus was Dayton's new gov ernment settled.
The citizens named by the people in a general election on November 4 as the first group of commissioners were: John R. Flotron, J. M. Switzer. George W. Shroyer, John McGee and A. I. Mendenhall. Their political affiliations were not in evidence on the ticket and therefore not 'Known except to their intimates, thus establishing the theory that the officials in charge of the business of managing the city of Dayton were not to be elected on a party basis but for qualifications of their own.
Summing up the achievement of the meetings and the resulting election, George B. Smith, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said: "'it was a great victory for the right, a splendid evidence of the laudable purpose of our people to free our city from the thralldom of politics and the waste of inefficiency." The High Lights on the Dayton Plan. The plan of the new charter which went into operation on January 1, 1914, provides that while all administrative duties shall be carried out by officers responsible to the manager, the manager himself is responsible to the commissioners. Thus the citizens of Dayton are in the position of shareholders of a corporation, the commissioners represent the board of directors and the city manager the general manager.
Under the city manager are five administrative departments : Law, public service, safety, finance and public welfare, with a director at the head of each, appointed by the city manager and confirmed by the commissioners. No account is taken of politics and no one knows how any man votes. If the appointee is not competent (page 200) he is discharged the same as if he were in the employ of a big business, as indeed he is.
The department of law advises on all matters of law, draws up ordinances, prosecutes all suits brought by the city, and in every way acts as a counsel does for a corporation or an individual. It settles many questions without taking them into court, such as family troubles, neighborhood quarrels and disputes about rent. It conducts a campaign against loan sharks, fraudulent advertising and mail-order frauds.
The department of public service has supervision over all lands and buildings belonging to the city, of its streets, bridges, sewers, street lighting, water supply, garbage removal, ash and rubbish removal, the dog pound, city motor vehicles and the city garage.
All the engineering work of the city is under the control of this department.
The department of safety embraces the police and fire departments, inspection of buildings, policing of the rivers and management of the life-saving apparatus. It enforces the building code, supervises construction and insures general protection of life and health in the city of Dayton. The city sealer is attached to this department.
The department of finance is the bookkeeping part of the government. Like that department of any business, it is responsible for the public money. It keeps account of all the property owned by the city, makes out the yearly budget, receives the taxes, enforces the ordinances by which peddlers, junk dealers, bill posters and others must pay a license, maintains a balance in the bank from which to purchase city supplies, and keeps the expenditure down to as low a figure as possible consistent with good results. With the help of a research bureau (established at that time but since discontinued), a fine accounting system was installed which insures the utmost order and efficiency in the handling of funds. There is an open balance sheet at the service of any who care to examine it, revealing the city's assets and liabilities at any given
The department of public welfare looks after the health, recreation and general welfare of the city. It enforces ordinances against unsanitary dwellings, requires owners to clean up back yards, alleys and vacant lots, to cut weeds, trim trees and keep sanitary premises. It maintains a system of public recreation centers equipped with swings, pools, baseball diamonds and tennis courts, where children and young people may play, exercise, bathe, wade, dance and swim. Municipal neighborhood centers have been established where properly guided social gatherings may be held. The use of vacant lots for gardening is encouraged. Twenty-eight playgrounds are in operation in which thousands of children under competent supervision enjoy themselves each week. It furnishes through a free legal aid bureau advice to those who cannot afford to employ an attorney. It includes a department of health with a director in charge who maintains a service of food inspection for dairies, bakeries, markets and slaughter houses. It provides for the first time in Dayton's history for a full time health officer, conducts three (page 201) baby clinics and one general clinic each week, and a baby-saving campaign during the summer months. It maintains a pure- milk service. A corps of fifteen district nurses is kept to attend families of limited means where there is illness, instructing them how to care for the sick and how to keep well. It has established a municipal lodging house to give a night's shelter to those without a roof. In these and other ways the department of health under the department of public welfare looks after the comfort and welfare of the people of Dayton.
The advantages of the "Dayton plan" will be immediately apparent to one familiar with the old municipal government. It has been said that "One-man power is the effective thing at the last," by someone who remembered Macaulay's dictum : "There is no government equal to an absolute monarchy where the monarch is wise and true." The Dayton plan makes one man responsible for the acceptable administration of all the city departments. He is safe in his job just as long as he "delivers the goods" and need never fear being ousted from his position on account of politics any more than the manager of a successful factory. Complainants may go to him for rectification of grievances and not find necessary measures buried in committees. If the manager proves incompetent or dishonest it is easily ascertained, for the books are open to public examination and he is subject to recall.
Another advantage in the Dayton plan is that the makers of the laws do not administer them. The law-making department and the administrative departments are separate; one tends to hold in check the other.
Every year the city manager issues a budget compiled from information obtained from the different departments and this budget is published, that all tax payers may know just how much money is required to conduct each department. The manager then makes out his appropriations on this basis and each department is required to keep inside its estimate or state the reason why. No supplies can be purchased except by the signature of the head of the department, the head of the division and the head of the bureau with final authority of the city manager.
The five commissioners are practical business men with political sympathies (of which, however, no one says much) pretty evenly divided between the three parties. Their first duty was to choose a city manager and it resulted in the selection of Henry M. Waite, whose professional qualifications were unquestioned; whose genuineness, decision, sincerity, simplicity and strength of will made him the right man for the place. He took up the duties of the management of the city just as he would have done if it had been a big manufacturing plant or a department store. Having the distribution of $1,200,000, he chose his subordinates according to the most rigid standard and required of them nothing but their best work. He cut down the running expenses nearly twenty-five per cent and gave as much more service. Until he was called to the service as transportation manager of the A. E. F. in France, in 1918, he opened new doors of achievement in his profession and taught the citizens of Dayton what really good city management was. (page 202)
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