When in 1830 that itinerant Englishman exhibited in the Methodist church a curious toy, a “locomotive engine” pulling people around in cars, who dreamed the little mechanism embodied a revolutionizing force which would sweep a besom of destruction over small local industries—concentrate production in huge plants—organize wage-workers in armies—heap capital in gigantic monopolies—and centralize government in America!
Industrial revolution, forerunner of political revolution, does not enter like a Greek god bearing its name on its forehead. The superior efficiency and economy of steam had to be demonstrated by decades of competition against water power and other slowly dying forms of production.
DECENTRALIZED INDUSTRY In 1850, the hamlets around Dayton were each a center of small, thriving local industries; each had its distillery, gristmill, sawmill, cooper shop, blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, cobbler shop. It was decentralized industry. Harshmanville, Harries Station, Little York, Liberty, Union, Alexandersville had a local autonomy in production almost unimaginable now. Wherever there was water power, there were possibilities of production quite independent of larger centers.
In 1851, Wyatt and Nickum introduced a steam engine and established the first steam bakery in Dayton. This seems the first use of steam power for productive purposes, at least we find no earlier record.
From that time down to the Civil War, steam engines were undoubtedly being installed here and there in Dayton factories, although it is difficult now to find evidence. For years manufacturers equipped their plants with steam power in conjunction with water power; they would not rely solely on either.
But the rightful day of steam power dawned in 1861 with the Civil War.
A FORCING PROCESS The war withdrew thousands of able-bodied men everywhere from factory and field. At the same time army contracts created an unprecedented demand for quantity production of non-perishable foodstuffs, blankets, clothing, tents, wagons, harness, etc. Scarcity of labor in town and country brought extravagant wages and with imperative demand for quantity production, acted as a forcing process on machine development. The war was a hothouse culture, breeding machines to take the place of men. Factory and farm machinery found famished markets.
David A. Wells, in a report as Special Commissioner of Revenue, showed that notwithstanding withdrawal of 30,000 agricultural laborers from Iowa into the army, their places were more than filled by improved agricultural machinery and its immensely extended use. Salmon P. Chase, after a careful investigation of boot and shoe manufacture, found that by introduction of machinery the country’s ability to produce boots and shoes was much greater in 1864 than in 1860.
But quantity production, especially in metal goods, was impossible without the giant motive force, steam.
In 1865, when some 2,000,000 men came back from the armies, they found their old tasks being done by machinery. Still they found at first small difficulty in fitting into the industrial life again; there was much to be produced for restoring devastation of war; the building of transcontinental railroads had opened up vast new fields of exploitation in the West; the country was still preponderantly agrarian; it was a notion of home-owners, not yet of proletarians.
The inevitable post-bellum industrial slump did not come until 1873. In 1860 Dayton’s population had been 20,081. In 1870 it was 30,473. In this little manufacturing center the panic of 1873 fell as elsewhere; for the first time it is recorded in local histories: “many were idle for a number of weeks.”
CAPITALISM’S COMING OF AGE The unemployed problem marked American Capitalism’s coming of age; an apparition as ominous as that on Belshazzar’s banquet-hall! A surplus of unemployed labor is essential to the capitalist’s mastery of the labor market and real exploitation of workers.
Dayton emerged from the panic of 1873 on steam power.
That panic had sounded the knell of little business.
In a history of Montgomery County, published in 1882, Dayton industries are listed, from which a number are given below with information abbreviated from the original:
MACHINERY OF PRODUCTION The Barney and Smith Manufacturing Company, established in 1849 by E. Thresher and E. E. Barney; in 1867 the firm was incorporated; have probably the most complete carwork machinery in the West; consume more than 10,000,000 feet of lumber and 20,000 tons of iron per annum; employ over 1,100 men; capital increased from $120,000 in 1849 to $1,000,000 in 1880; buildings cover four acres, with over eight acres of working room; two engines are required to move these acres of solid machinery—350 and 200 horsepower respectively.
Baird & Bros.; planing-mill, sash, door and blind factory; established in 1858; fitted up with the latest improved machinery, operated by rented steam power.
Hoglen Bros. Pulp Company; founded in 1840; employ fifty men, paying an average salary of $12 per week; also a foreman and bookkeeper; motive power a 40-horsepower engine; in 1873 the present firm took possession.
John Rouzer; largest contractor and builder in Dayton; in 1854 established business in a small way; in 1861 commenced manufacture of building material; used the first iron frame moulding machine manufactured in the United States; in 1863 removed to his present location on the Cooper Hydraulic’ and from 1866 to 1868 employed about 200 men annually; now occupies a larger structure; machinery of the latest and best improved pattern.
Parrott & Gilbert; own and operate the Dayton Furniture Company, founded about 1865; present firm purchased stock and trade in 1874; have four-story factory and two-story addition; manufacture only chamber sets; trade extends throughout Western New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Northeastern Ohio, exceeding over $50,000 annuallly; employ 35 hands steadily; machinery is run by steam power, rented of E. H. Brownell & Co.
Pierce & Coleman; wholesale and retail dealers in and dressers of lumber; J. H. Pierce sole proprietor in 1876, succeeded by present firm. Employ 50 men at average salary of $9 per week, machinery is run by an 80-horsepower engine.
Dayton Wheel Works; founded in 1865; present firm in 1875; manufacture wheels, hubs spokes, all kinds of wagon wood and bent work; sales are made all over the Union; also to foreign lands; about $100,000 invested in the business; 75 men and boys employed; machinery is operated by a 150-horsepower engine.
S. N. Browne and company; manufacture wheels, hubs etc; begun by Harvey Blanchard in 1847; in 1869 a joint-stock company was organized with $147,500 capital stock; employ 130men.
B. C. Taylor and Son; manufacturers of hay rakes; founded in 1862; during war, money was plenty and hay rakes needed. Some years after, hard times and non-payment of hundreds of notes due, forced him to suspend until 1881, when he started anew.
The Dayton Champion Plow Works; commenced in 1869; machinery in the building is operated by both water and steam power.
Marshall, Graves & Company; works established between 1866 and 1869 by H. Hershelrode, who resigned in 1878; F. M. Riegel bought and continued to 1879, when Albert C. Marshall purchased and operated it as the Dayton Machine Company until 1880; it then became the present firm; manufacture had rakes and trade engines, shipped to all parts of the Union; steadily employ nearly 100 men at a salary of “$2 a day; propelling power is an 80-horsepower engine.
D. E. McSherry & Company; founded in 1864 supplied with the best machinery for manufacture of agricultural implements; employ 140 men 11 months in the year; trade extends from New England to California, increasing in the south.
J. W. Stoddard & Company; works established in 1868; present firm began in 1875; employ an average of 450 men, have nearly $350,000 invested; manufacture agricultural implements; the largest works of the kind in Montgomery County and probably in Western Ohio.
John Dodds; began in 1856;various partnerships until 1875; his plant in Miami City consists of a wood-shop, paint-room, blacksmith and machine shops in which everything is done by the aid of ingenious machinery, foundry, wareroom, finishing room; the combined shops cover two acres, with spoke and limber yard covering five acres; manufactures six kind of rakes, turns out about 11,000 annually, aggregating $200,000 per year; employs 140 hands; an 80—horsepower engine, market is throughout civilized world.
Printz & Kuhns; commenced in 1852; manufacture agricultural implements; employ 40 men at average salary of $1.75 a day.
The Aughe Plow Works; Charles Parrott, proprietor; founded in 1847 in a little shop on Third street; now occupy a large four-story building and three warehouses, on the Upper Hydraulic, Manufacture plows, about 3,000 annually; market throughout Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
The Farmers’ Friend Manufacturing Company; commenced by a partnership in 1868, with a force of 25 men; incorporated in 1871 with a capital stock of $100,000; now employ 200 workmen at an average of $10 a week; manufacture grain-drills and corn-planters, markets everywhere; 7 traveling salesmen constantly on the road; 7 clerks and bookkeepers in the office.
The Woodsum Machine Company; founded as a partnership in 1863; incorporated in 1875 as a stock company with $250,000; manufacture threshing machines and portable and traction engines; selling in all parts of the globe.
L. M. Woodhull; commenced in 1878 with 20 employes; now in the blacksmith shop of their plant they operate 9 forges, 1 furnace and a steam hammer; employ 100 men at an average of $1.75 a day; turn out 1,500 vehicles a year besides other work; have about $50,000 invested.
Buckeye Iron and Brass Works; incorporated in 1876 with a capital stock of $75,000; manufacture various machinery and brass goods, employing 175 men.
Central Machine Works; founded in 1867, passed to the present partnership in 1875; commenced with jobwork and making steam engines, but now manufacture steam-pumps exclusively; employ 15 men, have about $25,000 invested; sell form Ohio to Colorado, from Illinois to Mississippi, machinery operated by rented power.
The Dayton Steam Boiler Works; E. H. Brownell & Company, proprietors; begun in 1865 by Mr. Brownell in a small shop; present firm formed in 1875; manufactures boilers and sheet iron work, the largest business of the kind in Montgomery County and among the largest in the State; employs about 75 men and do an average trade of $125,000 annually; equipped with the best machinery.
The Dayton Malleable Iron Works; begun in 1866 as a partnership, incorporated in 1870 with a capital stock of $80,000; its machinery is driven by a 50-horsepower engine, which is nearly double the capacity of the one used by the old firm; its plant includes a warehouse, foundry and annealing house; it manufactures all kinds of carriage hardware and malleable iron castings.
D. H. & C. C. Morrison; business founded in 1852, present firm since 1868; does all kinds of iron bridge building, iron roofing and girders; employs about 75 men; have extensive brick shop buildings, including engine and boiler room.
Brownell and Company; business established in 1864; organized in a joint-stock company in 1872; in 1878 the present firm became proprietors; manufactures all kinds of portable and stationary engines, saw-mills and steam boilers; employes 155 workmen.
McHose & Lyon; business started with $75 by the senior member in a small room, with one assistant, in 1868; in 1872 commenced making iron railing; in 1877 the present partnership was formed; in 1879 commenced making iron fronts, and started a foundry; occupy five buildings; now employ 50 men at an average of $1.75 a day, with a required capital of $50,000.
Smith, Vail & Company; founded in 1874; manufacture steam pumps and hydraulic machinery and construct water-works machinery; employ 80 men in the shops.
Stillwell & Bierce Manufacturing Company; started as a partnership in 1868; incorporated in 1870 and with $200,000 capital erected their present shops on the Dayton View Hydraulic at a cost of $30,000; the plant includes a large two-story brick building, foundry, blacksmith and roller-mill shops; manufacture turbine water-wheels, a patent lime-extracting heater and filter, and in 1881, added Odell’s roller mill, a new process for crushing wheat for flour mills by gradual reduction, destined to supersede the old process of grinding by buhr stones; their trade extends over the world; they furnished three fifty-five-inch turbine wheels for the Washburn “A”: and Pillsbury “A” mill at Minneapolis.
The Globe Iron Works; present firm successors of the oldest shop of its kind in Dayton, established in 1827; do a machinery and foundry business; their plant covers several acres; main building, foundry, plant shop, blacksmith shop and warehouse. The general machine shop is fitted up with slide lathes, upright boring and facing mills, gear cutters made for cutting either spur, bevel, mitred wheels or wood cogs; planers, slotting machines and milling machines; upright drills, etc. In this model machine shop the machine tools are so related no time is lost in moving unfinished parts of work from one to another; a large number of cranes with traveling carriages for handling heavy machinery; an overhead railway 167 feet long by which two men can raise and carry heavy completed machinery and place it on a cart or dray for a shipment. The motive power comes from one of their own turbine water wheels, in the engine and water-wheel house. Their wheels are in use in the great mills at Minneapolis, one in the Washburn “A”, mill, 60 inches in diameter, yields about 1,000 horse-power, another in a mill at Niagara Falls, 48 inches in diameter; yields 1,150 horsepower, the largest amount of power produced from the same sized wheel west of the Alleghenies. They also extensively manufacture paper, flour and saw mill machinery.
W. P. Callahan & Company; business started in 1841, and after several changes of partnership became the present firm in 1871; employs 80 to 100 men; manufacture linseed and cotton seed oil machinery, steam engines, mill gearing, etc.; sales average $125,000 yearly.
Banner Mills; operated by Jost Durst & Son, who took possession in 1879 of an old stone mill first started in 1847; the present structure is operated by a 165–horsepower steam engine; the mill runs day and night with a capacity of 275 barrels of flour every 24 hours; the product is shipped throughout the Union, with a fair amount to local trade. In connection is the Dayton City Elevator, erected in 1863, the machinery propelled by the mill engine; the elevator has 36 bins, of 3,000 bushel capacity each, two corn-shellers with capacity of 400 bushels per hour, five hominy mills and one cornmeal feed mill. The works employ 15 men in the mill proper and 8 in the elevator.
Commercial Mills; begun as a small mill in 1847 of less than 100 barrels per day; passed to the present firm, Simon Gebhart & Sons, in 1865, who in 1870 enlarged it; contains all the latest improved mill machinery, operated by a 150-horsepower engine; the firm use both steam and water; the capacity is 450 to 500 barrels per day of 24 hours; sold mostly to Eastern markets.
Dayton City Mill, Dayton View Mills, Exchange Mill and Ludlow Star Mills are listed as of smaller capacity, operated by water power.
Oregon Mills, Joseph Kratochwill, proprietor, established in 1854; machinery is operated by both water and steam power, the later being a 200-horsepower engine; the firm employs 28 men, the daily product almost 500 barrels a day; the flour is sold mostly at Pittsburg and Washington.
C. L. Haws; manufacturer of straw and tar boards for bookbinders and boxmakers; he started his business in partnership up Mad River, moved to North Dayton in 1864, purchasing 20 acres of land where the mills are now located; in 1872 Mr. Haws became sole owner; the firm owns three mills, each with a capacity of six tons a day. Four steam engines run the powerful machinery—250, 150, 25 and 20 horsepower, respectively. A gas house generates al the gas used by this immense establishment. The product for 1881 was 3,885 tons, although the mills were closed down two months; the sales were $220,000 extending all over the Union and Canada, without traveling salesmen. About 150 men are constantly employed.
Mead Paper Company; begun in 1846 by Ells, Chaflin & Company; in 1872 the Mead & Nixon Paper Company incorporated with capital stock of $250,000. In 1881 name changed to the Mead Paper Company, which has enlarged and remodeled the plant, employes 125 hands; the machinery is propelled by both water and steam power consisting of two turbine water-wheels, one 30-horsepower engine and one 100-horsepower engine.
Rutledge & Company; paper mill on the Upper Hydraulic, begun in 1844; the present firm took charge in 1877; manufacture wrapping paper only; employ 36 men; the machinery is run by both water and steam power.
Thomas Nixon; manufactures paper bags; established by partnership in 1873; present firm came in 1876 and greatly enlarged the mills; employs 10 men and 60 girls; invested capital, $40,000; latest improved machinery.
Valley City Paper Mill; erected by W. P. Levis, in 1874, a large brick structure, with smaller buildings; a 125-horsepower engine; employs 27 men.
Josiah Gebhart & Company; white lead works, established in 1880, make about 1,000 tons per annum; employ 20 men in the works, one traveling salesman; machinery cost $30,000; propelled by a 50-horsepower engine; trade extends all over the Union.
M. N. Wheaton & Company; commenced manufacture of cotton-batting in 1870 with $6,000 investment; investment is now $30,000; employ 12 hands, manufacture 1,500 pounds of bats per 10-hour day; machinery propelled by a 15-horsepower engine.
T. A. Phillips & Son; the pioneer cotton mills of the city originated by Eastern capitalists in 1833, passed to the possession of T. A. Phillips in 1844; the company incorporated in 1874 with $80,000 capital; works are fitted up with 3,500 spindles and other machinery; cotton is bought in Cincinnati; some 25 bales are used weekly in manufacture of carpet warp, twine, lampwick, single yarn, etc.; the propelling power comes from a 20-foot overshot water-wheel on the Cooper Hydraulic.
A list of 8 breweries is also given, two of which are noted as having engines, and probably all had.
Three firms of cracker manufacturers are given: A. L. Bauman, employing 23 men and a traveling salesmen; H. & T. Wyatt, employing 10 men in their factory; G. W. Heathman & Company, employing 16 men in the factory and two on the road. Two of these are described as equipped with steam power.
The Crume & Sefton Manufacturing Company; established in 1877; manufacture wooden and paper butter plates, water proof paper, oyster and berry pails, folding ice cream boxes; employs over 150 hands; machinery run by a 40-horsepower engine; annual products $180,000.
What a ghastly array! Almost an industrial graveyard! One and all they fought for a place in the sun; one by one passed to the receiver, the assignee, the dissolution process, sold out, or quietly quit the field, baffled and beaten.
A search for these names now in the business directory makes clear that just as they mark a revolution from the past, so they too, in turn, have been superseded and strangled by still newer revolutions. Hardly two or three of that array have survived!
GROUP CAPITAL But in this swarm of business enterprises then young and aggressive, attacking the markets of the Union of the world, producing with steam power, may be observed very considerable collections of capital—such as had to be in order to buy steam engines and to equip with large machinery adequate to make use of the greatly increased power. It was no longer a common thing for an individual to own a business; here and there an exceptional man still did—a Rouzer, a Dodds, a Haws. Nor were partnerships dominating the field of enterprise, although many still persisted. The stock-company was rapidly becoming the favorite form of organization of capital; firms graduated from the individual into the partnership, and finally into the corporation as they grew; the big ones were already incorporated—the Barney & Smith, the Farmers’ Friend, the Woodsum Machine Company, the Dayton Malleable Iron Works, the Buckeye, the Stillwell & Bierce—or were soon thereafter.
EMERGENCY OF USELESS CLASS There is this difference between partnership and stock-company; partners retain personal charge, stock holders hire brains for management, appoint a committee to watch the manager, and divorce themselves from active participation.
The stock company marks the advent of the pure and simple capitalist class. Already in 1882 Dayton was beginning to acquire that class rapidly.
BANKS Not only industrial capitalists, but bankers. Money-lending has always been a favorite form of exploitation. Its modern form is paper credit. Dayton’s first bank was chartered in 1814, when the population was less than 500. The company was called “The Dayton Manufacturing Company,” but its chief purpose was banking. Its first loan was to the government. It had a paid-up capital stock of $61,055. The bank ran as a state bank until 1843, when it closed on account of unfavorable banking laws.
The Dayton Bank started January 1, 1843, and lasted until June, 1845. The “Dayton State Bank” was chartered February 27, 1843, but did not begin business until July 7, 1845, after the other had ceased.
An “independent bank” claiming to be the successor of the defunct Dayton Bank started in June, 1845, with Jonathan Harshman, president and Valentine Winters, cashier. It discontinued in the spring of 1852; its leading capitalists became stock holders in the Exchange Bank, which began business April 5, 1852, with Valentine Winters, president.
Already three other banks had started, but did not long continue. In 1860, Reuben Harshman and John H. Gorman started a private bank which ran till “Black Friday,” (September 24, 1869, when Jay Gould and James Fish, Jr., nearly “cornered the gold supply and caused a panic.”) This bank failed, the only one in the history of Dayton to do so with loss to depositors.
MODERN CENTRALIZED MONEY LENDING Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln’s Secretary of War, as a war measure obtained the passing of a national bank act February 25, 1863. It ended the de-centralized banking system of state banks by practically taxing them out of existence; it substituted national banking organizations which should deliver to the United States Treasury interest-bearing bonds of the United States equal to one-third or more of their capital stock, and thereupon be entitled to receive United States circulating notes equal to ninety per cent of the current value of the bonds, the notes to be issued, of course, as legal currency by the bank in making loans. For a de-centralized currency system was thus substituted a centralized—in line with steam civilization.
Dayton financiers were quick to see advantage in these national banking associations. The first National Bank was organized in the spring of 1863 with $112,500 capital; the Second National Bank the same spring with $100,000 capital, afterwards increased to $300,000—but it went out of business May 25, 1882.
The Dayton National Bank was chartered in April, 1865, with $300,000 capital; the Merchants National began in February, 1871, with $100,000 capital; the Third National, in May, 1882, with $400,000.
Thus that adjunct of capitalism—a system of gathering the savings of the public for use of promoters of large enterprises—had been acquired in Dayton. The men who had made large profits out of the Civil War recognized the value of local banks not only for utilizing their own surplus money, but for mobilizing the money of others for still larger ventures.
MOBILIZING WORKERS’ SAVINGS Another form of mobilizing money quickly developed. Dayton Building Association No. 1 was organized March 23, 1867, the first of its kind in Dayton. It lasted only until August, 1873, but closed its books with a dividend payment besides the return of the original investment.
Concordia Building Association was organized in 1868, Germania Building Association in 1873, the Mutual Home and Savings Association in 1873, the Washington Building Association in 1874, the Permanent Building and
Savings Association in 1874, the American Loan and Savings Association in 1875, Franklin Building and Savings Association in 1875, the Franklin Savings and Loan Association (formerly the New Franklin Savings Association) in 1879. And some 17 other such associations, down to 1908, show the economic advantage recognized in this form of enterprise. The fundamental purpose of all these associations was to borrow the savings of the public at a small rate of interest and to loan money upon real estate security at a higher rate of interest. Gradually huge funds were thus accumulated for loaning purposes. Thus, the Mutual Home and Savings Association, which in 1880, had assets of only $77,525.51, showed in 1909 assets of $4,006,216.73. And it was estimated that about half the population of the city was interested in building associations either as depositors or borrowers. Dayton ranked first among cities of the United States in the development of this form of money lending. A. A. Winters, of the Mutual, was credited with having been the main spirit in fostering it, and in 1905 a granite fountain was erected to his memory in Cooper Park by the State Building Association League.
That this form of private or semi-private enterprise, under state regulation, stimulated the building of homes and other structures and effectively, for the time being, met a social want, cannot be doubted. The question of their transfer to public enterprise was for the future.
FIRE INSURANCE EXPLOITATION Another form of utilizing surplus money which Dayton capitalists early recognized was the fire insurance company. From 1850 to 1868, so many fire insurance companies were organized in Dayton, the city won the nickname “Hartford of the West.” In 1868, there were ten stock companies and one mutual company with their main offices in Dayton. But state laws became more drastic with regard to sworn reports of financial condition; and soon only the Teutonia and the Cooper fire insurance companies remained in the field. In 1881, the Columbia Insurance Company was added to them. These three companies, in 1909, with a combined capital of only $450,000, had accumulated cash assets of over $2,021,000. They had risks on property insured, of $64,699,106. And thus also in the insurance field, the question was dimly looming, whether such enormous power and possibilities of exploitation could be safely left to private enterprise under state regulation, or should be transferred to public enterprise.
NATURAL GAS In 1889, natural gas was piped into Dayton. This new fuel, cheap and efficient—ten cents a thousand cubic feet—profoundly affected industrial and social development. Like bees about a sugar barrel, a new swarm of industries came.
Steam power, aided by natural gas and electricity, was breeding monsters.
BIRTH OF A MODERN MONSTER The National Cash Register company, first and foremost among the newer race of giants, had already been formed in 1884. Some time before 1882, James Ritty, a Dayton mechanic, had invented and patented a theft-detecting mechanism, and with four other Dayton men who had much faith but small funds, organized the National Manufacturing company to make and market the machine. Owing to lack of capital they made little progress. But two Dayton men of larger capital, John H. Patterson and his brother Frank J. Patterson, descendants of Colonel Robert Patterson, one of the early and wealthiest settlers, were interested in coal mining at the time; they learned the value of the invention in their store at Coalton; they bought out the rights of the discouraged originators; and began the manufacture and sale of the National Cash register on a large scale. They had capital and credit; they had business enterprise and executive ability; and soon their company was noted for its modern methods of salesmanship and production. They built their main plant in Dayton on land which was part of the ancestral farm. By 1909 this main plant included 140 acres of ground, 13 buildings of the most approved pattern for light, ventilation and sanitation, with 35 acres of floor space. They had organized subsidiary companies in several foreign countries and selling agencies in practically every foreign land. They were making an average of 8,500 machines a month, selling directly to users for cash or on time. They regularly employed more than 5,000 people in their offices and shops and an additional 2,500 in their sales force. At the Dayton factory alone, in 1909, they paid in wages about $10,566 a day, or $3,169,878 a year. They were consuming 114 tons of coal a day, generating 4,900 horsepower.
CUT-THROAT COMPETITION But this enormous industrial development of the N. C. R. Company was not attained without ruthless battles against competitors. Those were the days of frank “cut-throat” competition. It was literally a survival of the fittest—the fittest to survive in a jungle struggle in which neither mercy nor ethics were known. In the ’90’s the N. C. R. Company used to display at times a large bulletin recording the annihilation of some competing concern. At each such destruction President John H. Patterson would hold a demonstration—a parade, a festival, or a bonfire at which would be burned registers of the defeated firm. There was a “morgue,” it is said, where registers of the dead competitor were kept. Barbaric enough, like the dancing of backwoods Indians around the stake; but the last days of competition called forth those qualities in men; without them were futility and failure.
THE DAVIS SEWING MACHINE WORKS The Davis Sewing Machine Company moved from Watertown, N. Y., to Dayton in 1889. In 1894 it added to its product the making of bicycles. It shipped its goods to all parts of the world. In 1896 it reorganized under Ohio laws with a capital stock of $1,200,000. By the year 1909 its plant had over 14 acres of floor space; equipped with the latest improved machinery, it turned out a quarter of a million sewing machines annually. It was employing an average of 1,500 wage-workers, whose annual wage total was about $1,000,000. It was consuming $1,200,000 of raw material; the value of its product was estimated at $2,500,000.
THE PLATT IRON WORKS In 1904, the Platt Iron Works Company was formed as a reorganization and enlargement of the Stillwell-Bierce and Smith-Vail, which had been consolidated with a capitalization of $1,000,000 in 1896. It obtained a government contract for making all of the air compressors installed in the battleships, cruisers, torpedo boats, and torpedo-boat destroyers of the U. S. Navy. With this government work, and a world market for its oil machinery and waterwheels, it built up a big plant which for years employed hundreds of wage-workers.
THE CAR WORKS On April 10, 1906, the old Barney and Smith Car Company was reorganized and the capital stock increased to $4,500,000. The motive power for this immense plant had changed with its growth; first water power from the canal, then steam; then electricity and compressed air. Wood, coal, coke made by the company, finally oil and natural gas constituted the fuel. The plant formerly made sleeping cars for Pullman before he began manufacture for himself; in 1855 it made 400 McCormick reapers for McCormick of Chicago; it also built horse rakes. But passenger and freight cars were its specialty, and in the latter years, street cars and traction cars. In 1909 its works covered 58 acres, with 8 miles of railroad within the grounds; it was receiving over 7,000 carloads of inbound freight per annum. To secure its lumber supply it had in 1905, purchased 50,000 acres of timer land in Milltown, Georgia, including sawmill, planing mill, and equipped railroad; and in 1906, an adjoining tract of 36,000 acres. In its works it was employing 3,500 men. An ominous new development, beginning in 1905, may be noted here.
PEONAGE In order to secure a steady supply of cheap labor for the car works, Hungarians were brought to Dayton through some labor contract, the exact terms of which were for obvious reasons not made public. These foreign workmen, newly arrived, were kept in a fenced place of 12 acres on Leo street in North Dayton, with a watchman at the gate. This was called the “Kossuth Colony”; it contained a clubhouse and general store, which the inmates were apparently required to patronize for all their amusements and supplies. The proprietor of the clubhouse and store was also the ruler of the colony; he made the arrangements with the Barney & Smith firm for employing the colonists and there were incidents which indicated his power to have anyone discharged who did not obey his orders in the colony. “Peon labor!” was the expression for this in labor union circles in Dayton.
THE BOILER WORKS The old firm of E. H. Brownell met new industrial conditions by incorporating in 1888, and re-incorporating in 1903 with a capital stock of $950,000. By 1909 its plant covered 13 acres; it was employing 300 hands. Its annual capacity was 2,500 boilers and 500 engines; It was shipping to all parts of the United States, Canada, Mexico and Alaska.
THE MALLEABLE The Dayton Malleable Iron Works had also been able to adapt itself to new industrial conditions and in 1905 reorganized with a capital stock of $1,000,000. By 1909 its plant on the West Side had grown to great size, occupying several city blocks; it was employing 1,500 men, most of them Hungarians; it had an annual capacity of 25,000 tons of finished castings, and ranked first in its line in the United States and the world.
FARE REGISTERS The Ohmer Car Register Company was formed in 1898 with a capital stock of $100,000. It was reorganized in 1902 as the Ohmer Fare Register Company with a capital stock of $1,500,000. Its specialty was the making of fare registers for street cars and inter urban cars. The head, John F. Ohmer, was the original inventor of the device—one of the rare instances in which the inventor has reaped the profits for himself from his invention. This plant, by 1909, had become the largest plant of its kind in the world.
THE NEW GENERATION With these may be named others of the new generation of industries; the W. P. Callahan Company, manufacturing gas engines and gasoline engines; incorporated in 1907; the Kuhns Bros. organized in 1887, making cast iron fittings; the Ohio Foundry Company, organized in 1901, making gray iron castings and also electric motors and generators; the Coffield Motor Washer Company, begun in 1904, incorporated in 1909; the Seybold Machine Company, begun in 1890, making bookbinders’ and printers’ machinery; the Pasteur-Chamberland Company, incorporated in 1887, making germ-proof water filters; the Kinnard Manufacturing Company, reorganized out of the Crume & Sefton Company, making folding boxes and paper pails; the Joyce-Cridland Company, incorporated in 1893 from a partnership, making lifting jacks; the Egry Register Company, formed in 1893, making autographic recording machines; the Dayton Manufacturing Company, incorporated in 1883, making railway car hardware, such as lamps, electroliers, waterclosets, washstands, etc; the New Era Gas Engine Company, organized in 1894, making gas engines and gasoline engines, and also a motorcycle after 1908; the Dayton Rubber Manufacturing Company; formed in 1905, making mechanical rubber goods; the Kramer Bros. Foundry Company, formed in 1893, making hardware specialties; the Computing Scale Company, formed in 1891; the Aetna Paper Company, formed in 1893, manufacturing writing paper and government envelope paper, which it supplied to the Mercantile Corporation; the Mercantile Corporation, formed in 1908, presumable for the sole purpose of handling the government contract for manufacturing all the stamped envelopes and wrappers in the United States; its plant was the largest of its kind in the world in 1909, capable of turning out 10,000,000 envelopes and wrappers daily; the Speedwell Motor Car Company, formed in 1907; the Dayton Motor Company, formed in 1904, taking over the business and plant of the old Stoddard firm which had made hay rakes; the Courier Motor Car Company, formed in 1909, to make cheap automobiles; and finally, in November, 1909—opening a new age, the Wright Aeroplane, capitalized at $1,000,000, for the manufacture of airplanes.
THE OLDER GENERATION DEAD The old plants making agricultural implements were dead. The Ohio Rake Company alone still survived, making the latest improved planting and harvesting machinery; it had managed to adapt itself to the newer conditions. The others had been stranded by swiftly-changing tides of the market, sudden revolutions in agricultural production, the shattering competition of vast aggregations of capital in larger industrial centers, such as the International Harvester Company, at Chicago.
By location, betwixt coal and iron, this was fated to be a machinery-making town; and expanding markets were no longer among farmers, but among manufacturers, business houses, transportation systems.
Those with a stake to risk who by shrewdness or luck launched their ventures in lines of production which the quick currents of the world markets caught, were swept rapidly on to riches. Those who clung to old conservative forms met financial wreck.
CLASS CLEAVAGE The wealth was for the few. The masses of Dayton people were now wage workers, limited in opportunities for livelihood to seeking employment at the shop and factories which large agglomerations of capital had formed. Hand-tool production was gone forever; the man who set up a little shop, with hand-tools and muscle power, in competition against these great machine-equipped and steam driven plants or others like them in other cities which were pouring their quantity-production upon the markets, was foredoomed to defeat. If he was protected by patents against competition, he might yet gradually conquer a market for his product, but most men are not inventive geniuses. The only other path to independence was through large capital.
SURPLUS LABOR POWER Labor power was no longer scarce; the great West was settled, the homesteads preempted; poor men finding no footing at home could no longer so easily “go West” to grow up with the country; they had to stay and compete with their fellows for jobs at the big plants.
When that throng of unemployed workmen appeared in Dayton, the summer of 1873, it denoted the arrival of new social and civic problems. Till then the wage-worker was independent; if his employment did not suit him, he could find another job around the corner. The workers were not gathered in large masses; there was work for everybody.
But swiftly all was changed. Large numbers, employed in large industries, found themselves blocked from working. Shut out from the foundries and factories, they were unable to set up shops for themselves, unfitted for farm labor and with little of that in reach. Meantime, to employers the industrial slump presented the need of reducing the wages of those still employed. Competition was all the keener, because of the dwindling market of goods; a firm had to buy labor-power as it bought fuel and raw material—at lowest prices; and when surplus mechanics and laborers were walking the streets, wages obeyed the law of supply and demand, they went down.
LABOR UNIONS Thus the social soil was fertilized for a new growth. Economic pressure forced workingmen to organize in self defense. Labor unions sprang up. Employers cried, “foreign agitator!” as lustily then as since, and with as little truth.
Prior to the panic of 1873, the only labor union in Dayton of which the writer finds record was Typographical Union No. 57. It had been formed by some printers during the war, but had languished. In May, 1866, it had been reorganized.
It was the forerunner of many. During the decade following 1873, various trades and crafts organized. In 1882 these local unions affiliated by forming a Trades and Labor Assembly, a central body to which each affiliated local elected six delegates.
From Dayton went out the first call for a state federation of labor. This was a circular, sent out November 29, 1883. It met a general response, and on July 10, 1884, at Columbus, the first state convention of labor was held.
The Knights of Labor—that strange apparition, a grandiose attempt to band American workingmen industrially and politically in a secret fraternal order—flamed across the country in the early ‘80’s; it organized Gem city Assembly No. 2287 in Dayton. But this form was not a true reflex of the industrial development of the times, and soon died.
CO-OPERATIVE BUYING Another way of coping with the intensified exploitation was tried by Dayton workingmen in those early days. A co-operative society on the Rochdale plan was started about 1874, by members of the molders’, printers’, blacksmiths’ and shoemakers’ unions—this last entitled “Knights of St. Crispin.” The co-operative store was opened in a stable back of the old Malleable Iron Works, north of Third street, in an alley between Summit and Dale; later it was moved to the Dover Block. But in 1876 the society quit and divided up the remaining supply of goods, discouraged by the lack of public response. American working people had not yet acquired the European genius for co-operative buying; years of crushing exploitation were needed to develop that; the economic pressure which comes from organized retailers was still too new in Dayton. In the years which followed, many similar attempts were made by small groups, which came to naught.
FIRST LABOR BATTLE The first labor battle in Dayton, of which the writer finds record, was a lockout. John S. Doren, editor and manager of the Daily Democrat, in 1876, discharged all union compositors employed on his newspaper, the official organ of the Democratic party. The Typographical Union got out a little four-page sheet, “The Appeal,” which opened a furious fire on Doren and threatened political vengeance upon the Democratic party. How the trouble was ended is not revealed.
In 1895, the brewery workers’ union placed a boycott on the Schantz Brewing Company. At the state convention of the federation of labor held at Columbus in January, 1896, Adam Schantz appeared, stated his position, and evidently made a favorable impression; the boycott was soon after removed.
THE LABOR CRUSHERS On October 9, 1899, John Kirby, Jr., general manager of the Dayton Manufacturing Company, discharged 17 employes in the polishing and buffing department of his plant at Third and Garfield streets for belonging to the union. This was the opening gun of the first serious battle of Dayton manufacturers with the forces of organized labor. An organization of employers had newly been formed for crushing organized labor. It was bitterly contested by Metal Polishers’, Buffers’, Platers’ and Brass Workers’ Union No. 5, backed by the central labor body. Pickets were placed at the plant; the usual methods of persuasion were tried upon the remaining employes and strikebreakers; this persuasion degenerated at times, no doubt, into intimidation; there were some scuffles; Jerry Hawkins, was arrested upon a warrant sworn out by a striker, for carrying concealed weapons, and was fined; Sergeant McBride, of the police force, read the Riot Act to the crowd assembled in front of the plant and arrested a number of persons. The strike dragged on until May 14, 1900, when the company obtained from Common Pleas Judge Kumler a temporary injunction forbidding the strikers to picket the plant, congregate or loiter about in the neighborhood, or in any manner interfere with the company or its employes. Thus law on behalf of the employer. On June 12, 1901, the injunction was made perpetual. But the strike was already dead.
DRAGON’S TEETH Other notable strikes occurred about the same time. On June 23, 1900, the Troy Laundry Company and the Pearl Laundry Company followed the example of the Dayton Manufacturing Company and applied to the Common Pleas Court for injunctions against their striking employes, some 60 men and women. These firms also were aided by the interposition of the court; Judge O. B. Brown granted temporary restraining orders which broke the strike, and on June 11, 1901, he made the injunctions perpetual. But the strike had already been killed.
In 1901, a strike broke out at the National Cash Register plant. A foreman named McTaggart, in the brass molders’ foundry, ordered all employes to line up, unionist on one side, non-unionists on the other, and discharged four active unionists. All the polishers and brass molders walked out. It was a fiercely fought strike, but with no local disorders. The strikers put 17 men on the road visiting the company’s markets and persuading merchants not to buy; the American Federation of Labor backed the effort; the company’s sales were seriously affected. For seven weeks the factory was forced to shut down, not a wheel turning. President John H. Patterson made sensational charges claiming to have a “yellow trunk” full of documents that would put every labor leader behind the bars; but he held conferences with Samuel Gompers of the American Federation of Labor, at Washington and New York, and finally settled the strike. The settlement, however, was unsatisfactory to the strikers, and practically disrupted the local union of polishers and brass molders; they claimed they had been sold out.
EMPLOYERS’ ASSOCIATIONS The fierce antagonisms engendered by the new order of industry had led to the organizing not only of the wage-workers, but of the employing class.
In 1899 was formed in Dayton that employers’ association already mentioned, the first of it kind; similar associations have since spread rapidly over the country. John Kirby, Jr., manager of the Dayton Manufacturing Company, whose struggle with his employes made him savagely hostile to all labor unions, was the prime mover in the effort to unite the employing interests for mutual aid against their employes. A. C. Marshall, former head of Marshall, Graves & Company, one of the firms manufacturing agricultural implements, which had been stranded by modern developments, became Secretary. He spent much of his time for the following six years assisting in the organizing of associations in other cities, and federating them in the “Citizens’ Industrial Association of America,” forerunner of the National Association of Manufacturers.
THE SPY SYSTEM One purpose, locally, of the Employers’ Association, soon became apparent to the labor unions. It had paid spies in their meetings, to report to the employers what men were active and bold in advocating the interests of the wage-workers. The employer who had such a one on his payroll could then get rid of him.
The demoralizing effect of several lost strikes and of the spy system inaugurated by the Employers’ Association was evident during the next 10 years. Few and unimportant strikes occurred, not because there were not grievances, but because unionists were weak in numbers and aggressive ones among them had been weeded out of Dayton shops. The increased strength of the employing class was demonstrated in 1905, when the N. C. R. Company without trouble declared for the “open shop.”
DEEPENING ANTAGONISMS It was the undisputed reign of the organized capitalists. But the class war was not ended; it had scarcely begun. The industrial causes of class conflict were steadily deepening. Machinery was constantly improving, was increasing the producing power of workers, flooding markets everywhere with the finished work of their hands, more and more widening the gap between the market prices of their collective products and the collective purchasing power represented by their wages. In 1905 it was estimated the manufactured products of Dayton for the year were $39,596,773; the wages were certainly not more than half this amount. It meant that only by constantly expanding outside markets could the plants be kept running in Dayton—and there must some day come a limit to that expansion.
Enlightened employers saw the germs of future labor war in the situation. They saw the wage-worker’s livelihood becoming more and more precarious. One of these, President John H Patterson, of the National Cash Register Company, sought to postpone the irrepressible conflict by active paternalism. He established a “Welfare Department” for looking after the comfort and improving conditions of life of his employes. In one sense it was anti-union propaganda; in another it was insurance against labor trouble. The National Cash Register plant at Dayton became noted far and wide as a “model factory.” It gave its employes everything that Capitalism could to make them content within their slavery. An on the wall it painted in eye-fixing letters a lie:
“Improved Machinery Makes Men Dear, Their Product Cheap.”
The steam railroad did not enter Dayton until January 25, 1851, when the track between Springfield and Dayton was complete.
But agitation for steam railroad connections had been on for years. The first railroad company in Ohio was the Mad River and Lake Erie, chartered January 5, 1832, for building a railroad from Dayton through Springfield and Urbana to Sandusky on the lake. Books were opened in Dayton for subscriptions to M. R. & L. E. stock. But actual construction was delayed. In 1839, sixteen miles at the northern end were in use; later the road was completed to Springfield. There it was met by the Little Miami railroad connecting Cincinnati and Columbus. As this furnished a line from the Ohio river to the lake, Dayton was out in the cold. The remainder of the M. R. & L. E. line was left unfinished.
HARD HEADED BUSINESS MEN Dayton could have had the Cincinnati to Columbus railroad, it is said, but many prominent citizens here opposed railroad connection: stage-line proprietors, hotel owners and some manufacturers and dealers. In a society founded on antagonisms, those who hold investments in obsolescent lines of activity organize to resist innovations. Arguments familiar to modern ears were no doubt urged; the danger of making Dayton a dumping ground for goods manufactured elsewhere and thus depriving the Dayton “mechanic” of his livelihood; the loss to Dayton hotels and stores if this new and speeding transportation whisked travelers from Cincinnati to Columbus in half a day, with no necessity for stopping over. A delegation went up to Columbus to oppose the proposed route through Dayton. A merciful oblivion has fallen on the names of these public-spirited Daytonians.
THE TELEGRAPH When at last the railroad from Springfield to Dayton was completed, the telegraph had beaten it into town. The first wire to Dayton was in operation September 17, 1847. In 1856, four independent lines were in operation; these were later consolidated.
A locomotive, prior to the entrance of a regular line, was such a curiosity, one was hauled over from Xenia in wagons and set up at the Webster street crossing, where the boiler was fired and the whistle blown.
AN ERA OF RAILROAD BUILDING The second line into Dayton was the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton, September 18, 1851.
In 1852, the Dayton & Western had completed its track to Dodson; and the Miami Railroad Company using this track and extending its own, began in June, 1852, running trains to Greenville and later to Union City. The road was named the Dayton & Union.
In 1853, the Dayton & Western established service to Richmond, Indiana. The same year the Dayton & Michigan was operating as far as Troy.
In 1854 the Dayton & Xenia went into operation.
Thus in a period of about three years Dayton had become a center for six railroads. And in 1856 the Union passenger station at Sixth and Ludlow streets was erected. Dayton was linked up with the new age.
STATE AID But it was not exactly a triumph of private enterprise, as a glance at the legislation aiding the building of the Mad River & Lake Erie railroad reveals. The charter granted by the legislature January 5, 1832, authorized the issue of $1,000,000 of capital stock in $50 shares, which might be subscribed for “by any corporation or individuals.” (It was a common provision then and afterwards during the railroad building rage to provide expressly that the Federal or State government might subscribe for stock.) The charter also provided that the State might at any time after twenty years from the time the railroad should be completed, purchase and hold it for the use of the State “at a price not exceeding the original cost of the road and ten per cent, thereon.” This was amended February 8, 1832, extending the time to 40 years, and requiring that the State, in order to take over the road, must pay “the whole value of the said stock at the time of said purchase,” the value to be ascertained by appraisement. Then came the following efforts at State aid:
December 19, 1836, the commissioners of Logan county were authorized to subscribe for 500 shares, $25,000.
March 14, 1836, the credit of the State was authorized to be loaned to the company for $200,000 to be delivered in bonds or negotiable scrip of the State of Ohio, “redeemable at the pleasure of the State, after twenty years.”
March 16, 1839, the commissioners of Hardin county were authorized to subscribe for 600 shares, $30,000 and to donate lots near Kenton.
February 19, 1845, the commissioners of Hancock county were authorized to subscribe $60,000 to the capital stock, and to issue bonds of the county for the purpose of paying.
February 6, 1847, the president and council of the town of Springfield, were authorized to subscribe $20,000 to the capital stock, the money to be applied to the construction of that part of the road between Springfield and Dayton, and to borrow money and pledge the faith of the town, subject to a vote of the people; this vote approved the subscription and debt and the money was given.
February 8, 1847, the city of Dayton was authorized to “subscribe to the capital stock of any railroad company, or companies that now is or hereafter may be chartered for the purpose of constructing a railroad to, from, or through the city of Dayton, “any amount which shall not exceed in the aggregate $50,000. There is no record this authority was used for the benefit of the Mad River & Lake Erie. The city did, however, subscribe $50,000 for the benefit of the Dayton & Western and $39,000 to the Dayton & Union.
LINKED UP By 1882, thanks largely to public enterprise, Dayton was the center of nine railroads. It had direct connection with the coal fields. The Dayton & Southeastern railroad was completed to the Jackson county coal fields in 1881. The cost of its construction was heavy on the citizens of Dayton, but they had to obtain cheap fuel for local industries, and they got it. The company had been chartered in 1871, but required a number of extensions and combinations with other roads to complete a system and then came a receiver.
BREAKING THE FETTERS Along with the swift development of industries, the growth of machine-processes, the increase in quantity-production , came a straining of productive forces against the barriers upon the turnpikes. The toll-gates, the charges of travel, were fetters on business. Private enterprise in highways was particularly disadvantageous to merchants; it kept down to a minimum the visits of farming families to the city and thus laid a paralyzing hand upon trade. Hence arose agitation for ending private enterprise in pikes. About 1881, laws were enacted by the state legislature under which the 140 miles of pikes in the county were bought by the county and made “free pikes.”
OTHER FETTERS BROKEN In one way and another the city got rid of private enterprise in bridges. The city felt the throttling effect of toll bridges so soon as suburbs began to arise across the river; public enterprise presently swept away these barriers; the bridges became public property, free for public use.
Canal boat traffic fought a losing competitive battle against the railroads for the next twenty years, and died a lingering death—amid rumors of political strangulation. An occasional canal boat might have been seen as late as 1893 plodding between towns.
But in 1890, the triumph of steam power was complete in transportation as in industry. Dayton had been woven by steel rails inextricably into the vast web of world-wide exchange.
SOCIALIZED PRODUCTION Henceforth the industrial revolution wrought by steam was complete. Local industrial independence was forever lost. Dayton stores were filled with manufactured goods of every state and almost every foreign land; Dayton mills and factories produced not for Dayton markets, but for any market; her salesmen were scrambling in competition with salesmen of other cities and other lands, everywhere from New York to Nagasaki, to unload the steadily increasing output of wares. Nor were Dayton mills and factories in any sense localized in obtaining raw materials and fuel; iron ore from the Lake Superior ranges or Tennessee; lumber from Louisiana or the Northwest; coal from Jackson county or Pittsburg or Indiana.
Anarchy of competition was whirling raw materials, fuel, and finished products hither and thither in the United States; and in this whirl Dayton was performing its part, driven on by fate as helplessly as the rest of the capitalist world.
What effect did this changed economic foundation produce upon the political structure?
The rapid growth of Ohio towns into industrial centers under the stimulus of enlarging productive forces put a great strain on the old simple state governmental apparatus devised for a simple agrarian people, whose chief property was land, whose towns were mere villages. The old state assembly used to enact every charter for a corporation or city, authorize every bond issue, etc. A state constitutional convention at Cincinnati, gave Ohio on March 10, 1851, a new constitution. Among its new provisions was one directing the general assembly to provide for the organization of towns by general laws.
STANDARDIZED GOVERNMENT On June 17, 1851, less than five months after the arrival of the first railroad train, Dayton’s old charter of 1841 was abolished; the state legislature passed general laws for the governing of Ohio cities and town. Municipal government was standardized. Henceforth cities enjoyed much larger autonomy within fixed bounds.
This was not exactly a coincidence. Steam power called for a different political apparatus. Capitalism is a standardized force. Quantity production and quantity distribution require uniform methods. The machine process smoothes out individuality, turns out goods almost undistinguishable. And the political structure reflects the industrial.
ANTI-SLAVERY AGITATION In 1860, the great period of the civil War opened. It had been long preparing. In 1840 a convention of anti-slavery men who had broken away from the old parties nominated Birney and Earle for president and vice-president. It was an unorganized protest. Out of 2,500,000 votes in the country, Birney received less than 7,000. Ohio gave him 903, and Montgomery county contributed of these about 50. But on December 29, 1841, a state convention of anti-slavery men met at Columbus. Salmon P Chase, of Cincinnati, a man of splendid organizing ability, took the lead. He was the author of resolutions and a manifesto which for the first time based the anti-slavery movement on recognized doctrines of constitutional construction and definite principles of national administration. Thus the abolition movement at last entered definitely the field of political action. The Liberty party was born.
POLITICAL ACTIONISTS Tactless propaganda of “uncompromising” Garrison Abolitionists made Abolitionism a synonym of sedition, slave insurrection, negro equality, and miscegenation; and as every anti-slavery advocate was tagged with this, the new Liberty Party waded through opprobrium. But in October, 1842, its candidate for governor of Ohio received 5, 305 votes, of which Dayton and Montgomery county gave a fair share. In 1844, the Liberty candidates for president and vice-president were Birney and Morris, both of whom had had the honor of being mobbed in Dayton. They received more than 62,000 votes in the nation, one-fortieth of the total. It is noteworthy their platform contained a resolution declaring the Fugitive Slave clause of the Federal Constitution not binding in conscience and that it should be mentally excepted in every oath taken to support that instrument. Latter day conservative exponents of “Americanism” have scant knowledge of the lawless and defiant ways by which the radicals of other generations developed “Americanism!”
LINCOLN THE “SOAPBOXER” The Liberty party blended into the Free Soil party which nominated Van Buren and Adams in 1848, and ran them on a platform declaring “Congress has no more power to make a slave than to make a king,” and for “no more slave states and no more slave territory.” They received in the national election 291,342 votes, of which Ohio gave 35,000. But the gathering volume of the political anti-slavery movement is a theme beyond the reach of this local chronicle. Let it suffice that a strong minority in and around Dayton split away from the old parties and went into the Republican Party when that party evolved as the most practical expression of anti-slavery political action. Agitation of the slavery question continued. On the evening of September 17, 1859, a long lanky “soapboxer” of saturnine visage, who had come into town from the West, mounted a storebox in front of the courthouse and harangued the crowd. He was not mobbed or egged; the minority had grown strong enough to be respected.
The agitator was Abraham Lincoln. He slept that night at the Phillips House and went on, next morning, to Cincinnati.
CONSERVATIVES But the prevailing opinion in Dayton was strongly against the anti-slavery agitation; and when the war broke out, Dayton and Montgomery county became known as a hotbed of secession sentiment. Although the town furnished its full quota of soldiers to the federal armies, and two prominent Union generals, Robert C. Schenck and George Dodge, besides many other officers, the majority of the people followed the leadership of Clement L. Vallandigham.
“COPPERHEADS” Clement L. Vallandigham, of Dayton, was congressman from the Third District at the outbreak of the war, an old line Democrat with strong “states rights” principles. An able lawyer, a magnetic personality, a brilliant orator, he had too an honesty of conviction and a courage in maintaining what he conceived to be the right, which made him a formidable opponent to the young, war-maddened, revolutionary party in power in state and nation.
The writer’s father, a Union volunteer soldier who had served under Schenck in West Virginia, discharged for disability, studied law under Vallandigham and tutored in Latin his son Charles; and through all the passionate partisan feeling of those bitter days never abated his admiration and personal regard for the great “Copperhead.”
The “Empire” daily newspaper was the organ of the Dayton Democrats or peace party; it had the largest circulation in the city and county; Vallandigham had formerly edited it himself, and presumably kept a financial interest in it. But during the first two years of the war the editors and ostensible proprietors were J. F. Bollmeyer and Wm. T. Logan.
The “Journal,” owned and edited by W. F. and J. P. Comly, was the organ of the war party or Republicans. Vituperation was worn threadbare between these two newspapers.
In the city election of April, 1862, the Republicans ran a “Union” ticket with Dr. Edwin Smith for mayor. The “Journal” indulged in lengthy editorials to prove Vallandigham disloyal, and volleyed upon him and his adherents such epithets as “secessionist,” “rebel,” “co-conspirator,” “traitor.”
AGAINST THE WAR The Democrats countered by running an “independent” or “True Union” ticket with Wm. H. Gillespie for mayor. The “Empire” had one epithet of supreme dishonor for its adversaries, “Abolitionist.” Its utterances were more guarded, because of the precarious position occupied by those opposing the war, when the armed foe was just beyond the Ohio river and the war faction in the North in full military control; but its bitterness was the deeper.
A sample of the political editorials of the day is given, from the “Journal,” of April 5, 1862:
“There is a cool audacity in the ‘Empire’s’ appeal to the workingmen to support the policy and candidates of that traitorous sheet. How long is it since the disciples of Floyd, Cobb, Thompson & Co., characterized the mechanics and workingmen who are gallantly risking their lives to sustain the old flag, as Hessians, Hirelings and Cut-throats? And yet, with this slander upon the ‘bone and sinew’ of the country unrepented of, the ‘Empire’ calls upon the workingmen of Dayton, to indorse its traitorous devotion to the secessionists and traitors, who with a diabolical purpose inaugurated the war which now distracts the country!”
Gillepsie and the Democrat ticket were elected.
April 14, 1862, the Comlys announced the transfer of the “Journal to Messrs. Marot & Rouzer, their successors in the business.
October 14, 1862, the Democratic ticket carried Montgomery county in the state election; and Vallandigham in spite of the most savage attacks upon his loyalty carried the congressional district against Robert C. Schenck.
A POLITICAL MURDER November 1, 1862, J. F. Bollmeyer, editor of the “Empire,” was shot dead on Second street, early in the morning, as he was returning from market with his market basket. He was murdered by Henry M. Brown, after a brief altercation in which Brown accused the young man of “abusing him.”
MOB VIOLENCE The murderer waited in his store and gave himself up quietly to the arresting officers, who placed him in the jail. In the afternoon hundreds of excited Democrats gathered at the jail and demanded the prisoner. Efforts of Mayor Gillespie, the sheriff and city police stopped them. But as night came on, thousands gathered, bent on vengeance. The guards around the building were driven in with stones. As these retreated, they fired on the mob, who returned the fire with pistols; two cannon at the “Empire” office were seized and run down to the jail for use against it. The “Empire” protested later in its columns that these cannon were taken by force and without the knowledge of the owners.
At one time great loss of life seemed inevitable; but only three persons were wounded by the firing, and several by stones. By 9:30 the tumult greatly subsided; and at 10:00 p.m., when a detachment of Federal troops, who had been telegraphed for, arrived from Cincinnati, all was quiet.
In the city election of April, 1863, the entire Democratic ticket (no longer camouflaged as an “independent” or “true union” ticket) was elected. The “Empire” of April 7, 1863, jubilates thus:
“GLORIOUS TRIUMPH: WHOLE DEMOCRATIC TICKET ELECTED by over 150 majority.
“A CLEAN SWEEP: COPPERHEADS ERECT. Dayton a ‘true’ union city. Vallandigham endorsed. Green Wood at a discount. ‘Flour’ is trump. Glory enough for one day.”
The jubilation was premature. War drives men to savage repressive measures. The government at Washington looked with apprehension upon the rising political strength of the “copperheads;” it saw Vallandigham already touring Ohio for the sate election and making anti-war speeches to great crowds who enthusiastically acclaimed him. This had to be suppressed, even though it required invasion of constitutional rights and the high-handed methods of dictatorship.
GOVERNMENTAL LAWLESSNESS On the night of May 5, 1863, a detachment of 150 federal soldiers, under Colonel E. A. Parrott a Dayton man, arrived from Cincinnati on a special train about 3:00a. m. Marching through the empty, silent streets to the Vallandigham resident on West First street, they surrounded it, broke open the door with axes, seized their prisoner, and countermarching to the train, sped back to Cincinnati before the alarm could be spread among Vallandigham’s adherents and a rescue be attempted.
The audacious effrontery of this governmental invasion of a citizen’s constitutional rights, as it appeared in the eyes of Democrats of that day, cannot be imagined by the later generation that meekly beheld, during and after the World War, arrests, imprisonments, and deportations of persons holding opinions objectionable to the administration. But the Democrats of Dayton in 1863 were much more sensitive to governmental tyranny.
A DEMOCRATIC MOB During the day following Vallandigham’s kidnapping, his followers in Dayton, including many of the prominent businessmen, more or less openly organized a plot of vengeance. The vengeance was wreaked that night on the “Journal” office on Main street, which a howling mob burned.
SUPPRESSING CRITICS It was a futile outburst. In consequence of the riot Montgomery county was placed under martial law, the editor of the “Empire” arrested, the Democratic newspaper suppressed. If one consults the files of the “Empire” at the Public Library, he will perceive that from the issue of My 4, 1863, complacently registering the popularity of Vallandigham and prospects of Democratic victory in the approaching fall elections in Ohio, there is a gap to August 1, 1863, when the “Daily Empire” appears as Volume I, No. 3. That period of silence is eloquent of the iron heel of governmental dictatorship. Yet those who believe in war have no right to complain of its necessary incidents.
WINNING THE HEART OF BUSINESS The enormous acceleration of business brought by the war, with its large contracts for army supplies, rapidly converted Dayton business men to the Republican party. They instinctively flocked into the party that represented success. Capitalism immediately after the war, no longer hampered by the fast-frozen relationships of chattel slavery, leaped forward. The Republican party, after Lincoln’s assassination, became the favorite vehicle of American businessmen; and this was as true in Dayton as elsewhere.
As the city developed into an industrial center, changing from its old line of manufactures into metal products, new civic problems arose. First among these was water supply.
PUBLIC ENTERPRISE Individual enterprise had theretofore been relied upon for water. Each house had its own well and cistern. But individual enterprise is adequate only for small communities.
Seeing a possibility for private profit here, a group of enterprising citizens had obtained a charter from the state legislature, March 1, 1845, for “The Dayton Water Company.” It was authorized to dig trenches, lay pipes and install a complete plant for securing good and wholesome water from Mad river. But the venture fell through.
Private enterprise having failed, public enterprise stepped tardily in. After various abortive efforts to get private capitalists to undertake the service, the City Council on March 18,1869, passed an ordinance to submit to the voters the question of issuing $200,000 in bonds for constructing water works. April 5, 1869, the people approved it by a vote of 2,769 to 1,936. A committee appointed by Council recommended the Holly system of direct pressure, while a minority favored a standpipe or reservoir. January 7, 1870, a Board of Waterworks Trustees was created by ordinance. March 16, 1870, the works were completed and the machinery put in motion. Fifteen days later an official test was made by throwing streams of water over a wire 100 feet high at the corner of Main and Third streets, reported as “in the presence of a large multitude of spectators, many of whom being from distant boroughs and cities to witness the first exhibition of the kind in the western states.”
EFFICIENCY AND ECONOMY Had capitalism been full blown in Dayton in 1869, this bit of municipal ownership would never have escaped the clutches of private profit. But, standing solitary among the other public utilities monopolized by private capital, the Dayton Waterworks from that day forth has been an object lesson even in the hands of enemies of public ownership of the superior efficiency and economy of public ownership. Its original cost of construction was $230,083.14. It was enlarged and improved from time to time to meet the enlarging needs of a rapidly growing city. In 1908, the total cost of construction and maintenance of waterworks from the beginning in 1870, was figured at $3,557,543.32. But against this the total income was $2,418,757.82. The yearly income far exceeded the cost of maintenance, and were it not for the frequent need of expansion would have poured a steady tribute into the city treasury. This showing was made in face of the fact that the water rates were unusually low and free service given to 1,765 fire hydrants, 40 fire cisterns, 850 sanitary sewer flush tanks, 16 engine and hose houses, 26 public buildings, 40 public drinking fountains, 48 sprinkling connections, boulevards, parks, etc., 5 hoist hydraulic canal bridges, 3 police stations, 2 hospitals, 2 Y. M. C. A. buildings, 4 sewage stations, 2 sewage ejectors, and many other forms of service. The water plant in 1908 was estimated at a market value of from $4,000,000 to $5,000,000; and it was said that if water rates were raised to ordinary prices in other cities and free service eliminated, a good dividend could be paid on a very large capitalization.
EVOLUTION OF FIRE PROTECTION Public ownership in fire protection also forced itself upon the city. The inefficiency of semi-private enterprise was horribly apparent at the time of the burning of the “Journal” office, in 1863. The slowness of the volunteer fire fighters in arriving was explained by fear the mob would cut their hose and cripple their engines. John W. Harries, in order to bring them to the scene, sent word to all the companies that he would replace at his own expense all apparatus damaged.
But this was the last large fire fought by volunteers. In the fall of 1863, three large steam fire engines were purchased by the city; and on January 12, 1864, City Council provided for paid employes, horses, etc. By resolution of council the volunteer fire companies were disbanded, without vote of thanks.
The new paid fire department down to 1880, was under a chief and a “committee on fire” appointed by Council. It consisted in 1880 of only 19 men and 12 horses with some inferior equipment. But in April, 1880, the state legislature passed an act establishing a “metropolitan” fire department on a bi-partisan basis, with 4 commissioners. Daniel C. Larkin, appointed chief of the department, served until 1906, and until 1900 the record of the department for reducing fire loss to the lowest rate per capita stood first among cities of the United States. In 1908, the department consisted of 1 chief, 3 marshals, 8 captains, 9 engineers, 132 firemen and 3 operators, a total of 156 men. There were 16 engine and hose houses, built by the city; equipment consisted of 8 fire engines, 12 combination hoses and chemical wagons, 3 hose wagons, 5 hook and ladder wagons, 1 chemical engine, 1 water tower, 4 chief’s buggies, 1 telegraph wagon, 1 hydrant wagon, 3 supply wagons and 1 fuel wagon. Dayton claimed credit for invention of the hose wagon at that time in use throughout the world; Chief Larkin had contrived it in 1884. In 1882 the Firemen’s Benevolent Society was organized to provide sick benefits. In 1902, the Firemen’s Pension Fund was established.
EVOLUTION OF POLICE PROTECTION Meantime public enterprise in police protection had also been forcing itself on the city. From the town’s incorporation down to the city charter in 1841, the marshal had been, with brief exceptions, the sole police force, at a salary not more that $25.00 a year until 1833. In 1833, Joseph L. Allen was made a watchman, in the pay of individuals; he wore a big tin badge on his hat. In 1835, nine persons served as assistant marshal from 1 to 3 nights each at $1.00 per night. In 1833, the mayor was authorized to swear in watchmen, not exceeding ten in number, to be paid by individual subscriptions. With the charter of 1841, although the marshal was still the “force,” two constables were elected at the annual city election, the township being co-terminus with the city. In 1855, because of many burglaries, Council on request of a meeting of citizens, authorized the mayor and marshal to appoint not more than 4 watchmen for each ward to serve night and day at $2.00 for every 24 hours of service; but this was simply for emergencies. In 1858 Council ordained that the police department should consist of the marshal and 6 police officers. The next year the number of policemen was increased to 7. In 1866, another policeman and a deputy marshal were added. In 1867, the state legislature authorized cities, of the “second class,” of which Dayton was one, to organize a police department under commissioners. Besides the chief, the force consisted of 2 sergeants and 20 patrolmen. This was Dayton’s first “metropolitan” police force, but in 11 months a Democratic legislature repealed the law and put the police back under the Council and marshal. In 1868, Council appointed a captain, 2 lieutenants and 20 patrolmen. Thus it remained until 1873, when the state legislature provided for a permanent metropolitan police department, under commissioners. The maximum number of policemen was fixed at 40, but for some years the Dayton force was less. The detective force consisted of two specially detailed policemen. In 1873, the Station House on East Sixth street was first occupied as city jail, mayor’s office and police court. In 1887, a Republican state legislature made the police department “non-partisan,” meaning bi-partisan. In May, 1903, the new code created a board of Public Safety to have control of the police department as well as other departments. In 1883, the patrol wagon was installed; the Gainwell police telegraph system in 1896; the Bertillion system of identification by thumb prints, photographs and measurements in 1902. In 1888, the needs of women prisoners were reluctantly recognized by the appointment temporarily of a police matron; in 1894, after much agitation the police matron was again installed, but at first the Woman’s Christian Association had to pay her salary. In 1909, the police department had developed with the growing needs of the growing industrial center and the increasing inequalities of wealth and poverty, to a force of 173, including 1 chief, 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 10 sergeants, 8 detectives, 1 court bailiff, 9 turnkeys, 2 ambulance drivers, 4 patrol wagon drivers, 2 ambulance men, 1 recording clerk, 1 superintendent of the bureau of identification, 1 electrician, 3 telegraph operators, 2 matrons, 1 janitor, 2 surgeons, 1 safety clerk, and 122 patrolmen. There were 3 police stations. A Police Benevolent Association was organized in 1877; and a police pension fund had been created, partly from taxes, partly from rewards, etc. In 1909, the amount paid on pensions was $3,060.
EVOLUTION OF PUBLIC LIBRARY Private enterprise had given place to public enterprise in circulating libraries. Down to 1805, the libraries were such books as individuals owned; these were lent back and forth, but the need of free access to books was keenly felt by all with a taste for reading. In 1805, a few individuals, headed by Benjamin Van Cleve, obtained a charter for an association entitled “The Social Library Society of Dayton.” The purpose was to acquire a common stock of books which members could take out for reading. Fines were prescribed “for loaning a library book to a person who is not a member of the society, or for permitting such book to be carried into a schoolroom.” Benjamin Van Cleve acted as librarian till his death in 1821, and kept the books in this cabin, which was also the first postoffice, on the southeast corner of First and St. Clair streets—in the same block where now are Cooper Park and the Library. The annual dues were $3.00 and the society sought to replenish its book fund by giving public entertainments. But in September, 1835, the library was sold at auction; the society had succumbed. During the next 10 years several such library societies were formed. In 1847, the Dayton Library association was organized, with dues $5.00; the first purchase of books was over 1,000 volumes. It continued until 1860, encountering the usual monetary difficulties; and then by gift transferred its books and fixtures to the free public school library, which meantime had been established by the Board of Education in 1855. Private enterprise could not compete against this public enterprise.
The present Dayton Public Library and Museum were born of the fusion. In 1853, the legislature had authorized the levying of a tax of one-tenth of a mill for establishing free libraries in the school districts of the state; and under this law was begun the free, tax-supported library system. Instead of distributing Dayton’s quota of books to the several school districts, however, as provided by statue, the Dayton Board of Education kept the collection intact and thus created a large central library. In 1888, the present library building in Cooper Park, built by the city, was completed, dedicated and opened. By act of the legislature, control of the library was taken from the Board of Education and an independent “non-partisan” (bi-partisan) library board of seven created. In 1909, the library had 82,000 volumes, with a yearly circulation of over 355,000. The efficiency and economy of public enterprise were amply illustrated in the evolution of the library system in Dayton; it formed training classes, furnished systematic extension work in schools and shops, and established branch deposit stations in the effort to reach the public.
EVOLUTION OF HEALTH PROTECTION Public enterprise also took hold of the increasing problem of health and sanitation. Individual private enterprise was well enough in a small village; every householder could be left to his own discretion about digging a well, a cistern, a vault; if any of the family fell sick, it was a private matter whether or not to send for a physician. But in 1832 and again in 1849, came cholera epidemics, and a smallpox epidemic in 1835. The death of several hundreds of people stunned citizens into realization that disease is not a private matter. Private enterprise could not be trusted to cope with problems so vital. Public enterprise took hold. In 1832, Council named a Board of Health, consisting of one citizen from each ward, established a temporary hospital with Dr. Hibbard Jewett and Dr. Gans in charge, and abated a number of nuisances, such as pools of stagnant water. In 1849, a second Board of Health was organized for the emergency. But Dayton did not have a permanent Board of Health until 1867, when authority was given by the act of the legislature. The board consisted of the mayor ex-officio, and six others chosen by Council; the board appointed a health officer and a clerk.
The Health Department rapidly broadened its sphere of activity. The camel’s head having entered the tent, the big body followed. The board assumed control of burials, supervised vaults, sinks, and cess-pools, and disposal of garbage, offal, or dead animals; forbade certain businesses and occupations to be carried on as dangerous or detrimental to life or health; prescribed rules for markets and sales of food, especially milk, limited the number of occupants of tenement houses and compelled sanitary precautions to be followed; undertook enforcement of vaccination, quarantines, etc.
Enormous and dictatorial power over the people became dimly perceptible from this unsuspected side.
EVOLUTION OF HOSPITAL SERVICE Hospital service was allied to that of health; and with the growth of the industrial center pressed for attention. There had been a temporary military hospital during the War of 1812; after a bloody fight on the Mississinewah between Indians and a detachment of the 19th U. S. Infantry, 48 wounded were brought to Dayton in litters and cared for. During the cholera epidemic the house of Mary Hess on Brown street was used as a hospital. But Dayton did not see a permanent hospital until 1878, when the Sisters of St. Francis started St. Elizabeth’s Hospital on Franklin street, with 12 beds. In 1882 this hospital removed to its specially constructed building on Hopeland street and in 1903, a large addition was made, giving a capacity of 500 beds.
But these facilities were not enough. In 1890, the Protestant Deaconess Society of Dayton was organized to establish a hospital. In 1891 a temporary hospital was fitted up; and in 1894 permanent grounds and buildings were obtained on Apple street, donated by Mrs. John H Winters, with voluntary contributions of about $150,000. Its capacity in 1910 was 160 beds.
Private enterprise, however, could not sustain all the burden; and both of these hospitals have received large appropriations from the public funds. Public enterprise will have to assume full charge of them in the end.
EVOLUTION OF CHARITY Public enterprise took hold of that inevitable outcropping of capitalism, pauperized old age. In 1849 land was acquired for a Poor House, and an infirmary board elected. Later the property was sold and a building rented downtown, where the infirmary board kept an office and administered relief to the destitute. In 1903, this task was transferred to the Board of Public Safety. In 1910 the business was conducted in a rented office at Fourth and St. Clair streets, under the supervision of the Director of Public Service. The expenditure in 1910 for “Public Charity and Corrections” was $76, 413.82, apportioned: for hospitals and pest houses,” $57,034.92; “outdoor relief,” $6,396.40; “prisons, work houses and reformatories,” $12,585.84; “miscellaneous,” $396.82.
STREET PAVING Public enterprise had to take hold of street paving. Deferred as long as possible, the problem of making the streets capable of bearing the constantly increasing traffic was at last faced. In 1888, a part of Fifth street was paved with granite blocks. In 1891, parts of Wayne, River, Washington, Germantown, North Main, Fifth and North and South Market streets were paved. These streets were mostly on the outskirts where the property owners were not influential citizens and it was safer to resist their protests against the heavy assessments. In 1892, all the streets in the center of the city except Third street were paved. Third street at the time was the principal business street, and the short-sighted “business interests” held off this expense. But trade quickly veered to the paved part of Main street; and in 1893, repenting of their blindness, the business men on Third were glad to have their street paved too. Thereafter, paving was extended gradually in all directions, until in 1909, the city had 58 miles of paved streets.
SEWERS Public enterprise had also to grapple with the problem of drainage. In 1890, the city was divided into eight sewer districts, and by 1909, there were 150 miles of sanitary sewers and 90 miles of storm sewers.
BRIDGES Public enterprise, having ousted private enterprise from the bridges, gradually substituted for the old wooden and iron structures modern open bridges of concrete and steel, to the great enhancement of the beauty of the town. In 1902-3, the Main street concrete bridge was finished; in 1904-5, the Third street concrete bride; in 1905-6, the Washington street concrete bridge, and in 1909, the Dayton View concrete bridge.
THE CONTRACT SYSTEM The letting out of paving and bridge building to contractors had the effect of stimulating such improvements; for the profits derived by contractors were large, especially if they were able to scant the work or materials; and thus there was a constant urge upon the City Council by special interests that expected to benefit by the contracts or the furnishing of supplies. The time was to come when the people were to realize in a dramatic way the evil of the contract system in public work.
But while public enterprise was thus taking hold of forms of public service in which private enterprise had hopelessly failed or could see no profit, capitalists were seizing upon other forms of public service in which they visioned a golden harvest.
STREET RAILWAYS With growth of the city came opportunity to profit out of the public need for transportation facilities. In 1869, was chartered the Dayton Street Railroad Company for operating street cars on Third street. The chief promoters and officers of this company were Wm. P. Huffman and H. H. Williamson, the former owning lands in the East End, and the latter on the West Side; and it is said their object was to aid the sale of their lots. They were astonished to find the street car line paid a profit from the start. The capital stock was $75,000. In 1892, Council granted a new franchise for 50 years.
The Dayton View Street Railway Company was chartered in 1871, with a capital stock of $35,000, to run from the Union Depot to the corporation line in Dayton View. The Oakwood Street Railway Company was chartered in 1875, with a capital stock of $30,000. It leased the Dayton View line and added to it its own line from Oakwood to the corner of Main and Third streets. But it went bankrupt; its properties were sold at auction in 1876 to Charles B. Clegg and others, who combined the two roads. In 1884, the capital stock of the new company was increased to $300,000. In 1891, it obtained a renewal of its franchise for 50 years.
The Wayne and Fifth street Railway Company was chartered in 1871 with capital stock of $100,000; its original route extended from the south end of Wayne, along Fifth, and north on Jefferson to First street; but in 1875 it was extended to the Barney & Smith Car Works, and 1889 along Valley to Alaska.
In 1880 the Fifth Street Railroad Company was chartered with a capital stock of $200,000 increased in 1886 to $300,000. In 1889, it got a renewal of its franchise for 25 years.
THE FIRST ELECTRIC LINE In May, 1887, the White Line Railroad Company was chartered, with Dr. Joseph E. Lowes, the Republican “boss” as a heavy stockholder, director and vice-president; the capital stock was $200,000. It ran from the north end of Main street through the center of town to the Soldiers’ Home. From the first it was operated by electricity, one of the earliest in the United States to adopt electricity; it marked the speedy end of the horse and mule as motive power.
In 1909, came the Dayton Street railway, extending from the Southeastern end of town through the business district to the western end of Dayton View. Among its stockholders and promoters were E. W. Hanley, the Democratic “boss,” and James M. Cox, the proprietor of the Democratic organ, the Dayton “News.”
COMBINES Consolidations began in 1893, when the City Railway Company was formed, which took in the Third and Fifth street lines, the Green Line, chartered in 1889—and in a few years built the Kammer Avenue Line. In 1903, it obtained a 25 year franchise. In 1896, the People’s Railway Company was formed, which consolidated the White Line and Wayne Avenue Line, and added to its system the Cincinnati-Leo division. By the close of 1909 there were 100 miles of street railway in Dayton. In 1891, the Wayne and Fifth line had obtained a 50-year franchise, and in 1896 the White Line a 47-year franchise; and in 1901 these were confirmed to the People’s Railway Company.
INTERURBANS Meanwhile a network of interurban electric lines was being constructed; the era of traction railway building was on; capitalists were visioning great profits in that form of enterprise. Beginning in 1895 and down to 1902 separate lines were laid to Hamilton and Cincinnati southward, to Union City and Richmond westward, to Springfield and Columbus northeastward; all of which were finally, after 1902, consolidated in the Ohio Electric Railway Company. The Dayton & Troy Electric Railway Company was chartered in 1897 by the Clegg interests; the Dayton & Xenia Transit company in 1900, to which was added a city railway line.
TELEPHONES Private enterprise was reaping a rich harvest too in other lines of public utility. The Central Union Telephone Company was established in Dayton in 1879, with 10 original subscribers, who in 1910 had grown to 10,350. It became a branch of the nation-wide American Telephone Company. The Home Telephone Company, with an improved automatic system was organized in Ohio in 1899; it began paid service in Dayton in 1903.
NATURAL GAS AND POLITICS The artificial gas service had been abolished by the old Dayton Gas Light & Coke Company, chartered in 1848; it had enjoyed a long period of great prosperity. But in 1888, the Dayton and Southwestern Natural Gas and Oil Company was formed for bringing natural gas from Mercer County. April 19, 1889, natural gas was first supplied to the citizens and industries of Dayton; and thenceforth there was bitter war between the artificial and the natural gas companies. After some changes of charter, the natural gas interests were known as the Dayton Gas and Fuel Company, incorporated in 1893, of which E. W. Hanley—a remarkable man—was secretary and treasurer. Driven into politics by the necessities of his business, Hanley became chairman of the City and County Executive Committee of the Democratic Party in Dayton. The Democratic organization was nicknamed, not without reason, the “Natural Gas Gang.”
ELECTRIC LIGHT AND POWER But a no less lucrative form of public service was presented by electricity; private capital was quick to exploit that field. In 1882, the Brush Electric Light Company obtained a franchise in Dayton. This name was soon changed to the Dayton Electric Light Company. It built a power house on the Dayton View hydraulic at Lehman street and generated electricity by water power. But later it built a steam power plant on Fourth street. In the spring of 1905, the Dayton Lighting Company succeeded the other. The president of both these electric light and power companies was Dr. J. E. Lowes. And the closet connection between political power and operation of public utilities by private interests may be judged by the fact that Dr. Lowes was the chairman of the Republican city and county executive committees and popularly recognized as the “Republican boss.”
PUBLIC UTILITY BATTLES Between the natural gas interests headed by Hanley and the electric light and power interests headed by Lowes, a battle royal for the capture of the city hall raged at every city election. The Republican organization, allied with the artificial gas company against the other, became the “Artificial Gas Gang.” The contract for lighting the city streets, bridges, public buildings, schools, etc., was the largest bone of contention between the gas companies; the old company held that like a fortress down to 1912.
The Dayton Citizens’ Electric Company, headed by Adam Schantz was chartered in 1906; it was given a franchise in Dayton in 1906, and began operation in 1907, with a power plant at Third and Webster streets.
The entrance of this competitor was fought from the beginning by the older electric company, whose influence over the city government at first prevented the granting of a franchise to the new. A mass meeting of citizens was called, local stockholders of the new company taking the lead, and such an uproar started that the franchise was put through the Council, but with the provision that one per cent of the gross annual receipts of the company should be paid to the city, and $100,000 security be filed with the city treasurer; and in the event the company should sell, transfer, or consolidate with another company within 5 years, its franchise should end and its $100,000 security become the property of the city.
In spite of this the two electric companies arranged a mysterious truce, and in 1911, at the end of the five-year period, combined in the Dayton Power and Light Company with a $20,000,000 capitalization.
While groups of incorporated capital thus struggled like leviathans in the marsh of municipal politics, a general organizing effort was visible among the merchants and manufacturers. These were instinctively class-conscious; they recognized their peculiar interests as a class depending on profits.
ORGANIZING COMMERCIAL INTERESTS The first commercial body was called the Dayton Exchange, formed in 1873, the panic year, to promote the building of the Southeastern Railroad to the coal mines of Jackson county.
In 1887, a Board of Trade was formed with 336 members to secure a new union railway station.
In 1907, several commercial associations, the Boosters’ Club, Commercial Club, Board of Trade, combined to make the Dayton Chamber of Commerce. In 1908, the Receivers’ and Shippers’ Association became a department of the Chamber as a Traffic Bureau.
The activities of the Chamber were necessarily largely political, although it disclaimed political purposes. It was the voice of the organized “business interests”; it had to deal with matters of municipal politics as affecting “business.” Upon the City Council its influence was practically irresistible; and upon the daily press no less potent; for it was also the voice of the organized advertisers. Its members held the purse strings that maintained both Republican and Democratic parties and the newspapers. While it professed to speak for all the people, it could not, in fact, speak for the masses of wage-workers of the public whenever the interests of these clashed with the special interests of the employers or merchants.
LABOR ORGANS Neither could the daily press, thus dominated, speak for the workingmen. A consciousness of this dawned upon organized labor whenever a wage dispute occurred. Efforts were made to establish a workingclass organ.
In 1876, after the “Appeal” had run for a few issues, the “Saturday People” was started in the interests of a “Workingmen’s ticket,” which had been nominated. In 1877, it was made the workingman’s official organ; it became the organ of the greenback labor party; in 1881 it was enlarged to an eight-column paper; and finally it died an obscure death.
The “Union Banner” began publication in 1898 and died a lingering death. In 1902 the “Union Picket” started as the official organ of organized labor, and ran about 4 years, a football of factional fighting among the unionists. When it ceased, a small weekly called “The Montgomery County Reporter,” published by O’Donnell Bros., was made the official organ of organized labor. But soon it was discovered that in some mysterious way the hand of the Employers’ Association was visible in its columns; organized labor withdrew its indorsement, but the paper continued to be published until 1913, as a pretended labor sheet in the interests of the employers. Its editor was a man named Milburn.
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