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A. VICTOR DONAHEY

1923- 1929

Vic Donahey, the first governor of Ohio to serve three consecutive terms, was known as the foremost vote getter of his day. A candidate for elective office eleven times, he was defeated only once, in a landslide of the opposition party. Elected governor as a Democrat, he dealt with Republican general assemblies throughout his tenure. His majority in the election for the United States Senate set a record which has not been broken to the date of this publication.

Alvin Victor Donahey began his political career as A. Victor, then shortened his official signature to A. V., but by the time he ran for governor his name went on the ballot as Vic, as he had come to be known by the people throughout the state. He was born July 7, 1873, on a farm between Cadwallader and West Chester, Tuscarawas County, Ohio, to which Donaheys of Scotch-Irish lineage migrated from Pennsyl- vania in the first year of Ohio's statehood. His father, John C. Donahey, was a school teacher, farmer, and livestock buyer until elected county clerk in the late 1880's, whereupon he moved with his wife (Catherine Chaney) and three sons to New Philadelphia, the county seat. Of the sons, Vic w as the eldest, followed by Hal of later Cleveland Plain Dealer cartoonist fame, and Will of Chicago, also a well-known car- toonist and artist.

After elementary schooling at West Chester, Vic Donahey attended high school in New Philadelphia, but quit in his junior year to learn the printing trade, which he pursued for some years in newspaper and job printing plants. He bought a print shop of his own at the age of twenty. He remained a member of the International Typographical Union all through his subsequent public career.

Donahey was married on January 5, 1897, to Mary Edith Harvey of Canal Dover (now Dover). They had twelve children, of whom nine are now living. Soon after his marriage Donahey began his public services by being elected clerk of the Goshen Township board of trustees. In 1905 he was elected county auditor, in which office he served two terms. He was also a member of the board of education. In 1911 he was elected a delegate to the Fourth Ohio Constitutional Convention which met the following year. By political convention time in 1912 he had attracted the attention of party leaders who caused him to be nominated for state auditor. In this office, in which he served two four-year terms, his name became a household word throughout the state by reason of his diligence in the examination and inspection of the accounts and expenditures of public offices-state, district, and local.

The most highly publicized instance, though essentially a minor incident, in the pruning of expense accounts, took place when Auditor Donahey refused to reimburse a judge of the court of appeals the full price of a baked potato, listed on the judge's expense receipt at thirty cents. When the auditor cut this to ten cents, the judge promptly filed in the Supreme Court of Ohio a mandamus suit to compel reimbursement in full. After a flare of publicity the incident became a topic of state- wide gossip and discussion favorable to the auditor, whereupon the judge withdrew his suit.

Nominated without opposition for governor at the 1920 primary election, Donahey suffered in November his only defeat at the polls. In 1922 he was elected governor by a majority of 18,648, in 1924 by 176,842, and in 1926 by 16,766. His majority in 1924 was the largest in the history of the state up to that time.

Known in the common parlance of voters as "Honest Vic" or the "Watchdog of the Treasury" while state auditor, he became known as "Veto Vic" during the legislative session of his first term, when he vetoed seventy-six bills and appropriations for $4,000,000. In his second term he vetoed forty-five bills and appropriations for $2,000,000; in his third, thirty bills and appropriations for $4,000,000. He vetoed every bill which sought to increase taxes, including that for gasoline taxes which was supported primarily by the farm organizations. When this was passed over his veto, he directed the department of highways to spend nearly all of the proceeds on grading and graveling unimproved roads in order to "lift the farmers out of the mud," thus adding 6,900 miles of passably improved roads to the state-financed system.

Outstanding among other vetoes were the Ku Klux Klan bill to require daily Bible reading in the public schools and the Anti-Saloon League's bill to require prohibition law offenders to serve out unpaid fines by manual labor on roads and other public works. On the premise that prohibition enforcement was directed unduly against the poor, he pardoned more than two thousand offenders from jails and work- houses.

Donahey ran for a third term for governor on the pretext that the Republican senate had refused to confirm his appointments to the various quasi-judicial commissions of the state. All his appointments in his third term were senate-approved.

Retiring from the governorship in 1929, Donahey organized the Motorists' Mutual Insurance Company of Columbus, of which he became president. He was named a director of the Ohio National Bank of Columbus. He resided at a home which he had built on an island at Indian Lake, where he spent his leisure in various forms of recreation, fishing, whittling, making artifacts, cooking favorite recipes (including personally smoked hams and other meats) for invited friends, until 1934, when he received a flood of thousands of letters urging him to run for the United States Senate. He was elected by a 437,138 majority. In the senate he was chairman of a joint congressional committee to investigate the TVA, which resulted in a reorganization of the authority. When World War II broke out, he opposed President Roosevelt's proposal for modification of the Neutrality Act, saying the action would mean "cash and carry in 1939, cash and credit in !940, cash and boys in 1941."

Refusing to run for reelection, he returned to his insurance business in 1941. After several years of failing health he died of histoplasmosis capsulatum, a rare malignancy of the blood, on April 8, 1946. He is buried in Schoenbrunn Cemetery, New Philadelphia. Ohio State Journal

J. A. MECKSTROTH

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