Link to Online Collection Catalog
Link to OHS HOME page
Link to CONTACT OHS page
Link to OHIO HISTORY STORE website
Link to OHS CALENDAR page
Link to OHS PLACES page
Link to OHS RESOURCES page
Link to the ABOUT OHS page
Link to SEARCH OHS page
OHS Online Home
Fundamental Documents of Ohio

FUNDAMENTAL
DOCUMENTS


ARCHIVES/
LIBRARY


ONLINE
RESEARCH
TOOLS

ONLINE
DOCUMENTS

ONLINE
SERVICES

FRANK J. LAUSCHE

1945 - 1947, 1949 - 1957

When the smoke of battle of the hectic political campaign of 1952 cleared away, the people of Ohio beheld an amazing result. Governor Frank J. Lausche, running for an unprecedented fourth term as Ohio's chief executive, had won reelection by the record-breaking margin of 450,052 votes over his Republican opponent, Charles P. Taft. This was in the face of a national Republican landslide which saw Dwight D. Eisenhower carry Ohio by a half million votes and a state-wide Re- publican sweep which carried to victory every other state Republican candidate.

By his spectacular triumph Governor Lausche made political history in Ohio. Not only did he become the first four-term governor in Ohio's 150 years of statehood, but, in addition, his incredible total vote of 2,019,029, made him the first Ohioan ever to receive as many as two million votes for any office in the state, and his margin of victory set a record as the greatest plurality accorded an Ohio governor to that time.

Lausche, born of immigrant parents in the grimy steel mill district of Cleveland on November 14, 1895, had indeed come a long way. His father, a steel mill worker, and his mother, who befriended all new arrivals in the neighborhood, had a family of ten children, of whom Frank was the second. The father and the oldest son died when Frank was twelve years old. To help support the family, Frank sold newspapers on the street corners of Cleveland, became the neighborhood lamplighter at two dollars a week, and helped his mother operate a small restaurant and wine shop. He also found time to play baseball and soon became a star sand-lot third baseman. For a time he played semi-professional baseball with Duluth in the Northern League and with Lawrence, Massachusetts, in the Eastern League.

During World War I Lausche joined the army as a private in 1918, and rose to the rank of second lieutenant. On his return from service in 1919, he passed up a bid to play professional baseball in order to study law. He entered John Marshall Law School in Cleveland, and, upon completion of his law studies in 1920, he passed the Ohio bar examination with the second highest grade in the state. He then entered the practice of law as an assistant in the law firm headed by Cyrus Locher, who became a United States Senator in 1928. It was on the advice of Locher that Lausche became a candidate for the Ohio legislature. Al- though he met defeat in the campaigns of 1922 and 1924, he made a favorable impression on his party chiefs, and he became the Democratic ward leader in his neighborhood.

In 1932 Governor White appointed Lausche to fill a vacancy on the Cleveland municipal bench. He served in this office with distinction and was reelected. In 1936 he was elected to the common pleas bench and quickly achieved a solid reputation as a courageous, industrious, and nonpolitical judge. Lausche used his powers as judge to gather evidence against gambling clubs in Cuyahoga County and to have warrants sworn out against their operators. In so doing he offended political leaders of his party, and it was predicted that Lausche had committed political suicide. But the gambling clubs were closed, and Lausche's reputation spread, with the result that in 1941, when he ran for mayor of Cleveland, he was elected by the largest majority and with the greatest percentage of votes given a municipal candidate in Cleveland up to that time.

Hardly had Lausche assumed his duties as mayor of Cleveland when World War II broke out. In addition to his usual functions as mayor, he assumed direction of all protective facilities and of all efforts to win the war on the home front. He mobilized volunteers to plan for a county-wide program and raised money to pay the bill. His success with these achievements gained for him a national reputation as "an inspired war leader for the people of Cleveland." In 1943 he was reelected mayor by an even greater majority than in his first victory. His reputation as an able administrator spread throughout Ohio, and in 1944 he was elected governor of Ohio in a campaign in which he was opposed by James Garfield Stewart, mayor of Cincinnati.

Lausche's towering and commanding figure, with a great mop of black hair that waved about when he warmed up on the platform, became a familiar figure to Ohio voters. They liked his home-folksy manner, and his pleasant, even disposition and infectious smile. He impressed his hearers as being utterly sincere and honest in his deep attachment to the principles of democracy and clean government. They liked his independence of pressure groups, and incidentally they liked the charm- ing, friendly, and gracious, Mrs. Lausche, the former Jane Sheal, whom Lausche had married in 1928. And they elected him as the state's fifty- fifth governor by a majority of 112,359 votes.

A national Republican landslide was chiefly responsible for Lausche's defeat by Thomas J. Herbert in the election of November 1946. But two years later he was swept back into office over Governor Herbert. Subsequently, in the election of November 1950 and in the face of a strong Republican trend, Lausche's great popularity with the people brought him his third election as governor-this time by 150,000 votes over Don H. Ebright. Thus Lausche became the fifth Ohio governor to be elected to a third term.

In 1952, when he became a candidate for an unprecedented fourth term, opponents made a point of the fact that no other governor in Ohio's history had asked the voters for four terms. His ensuing record- breaking victory was all the more impressive because of the stature of his opponent who bore the magic political name of Taft-capable, personable, and independent Charles Phelps Taft, the son of President William Howard Taft and the brother of the famous late Senator Robert A. Taft.

Although the general assembly was usually dominated by the opposite party during the Lausche administrations, Governor Lausche was exceptionally successful in having much of his program adopted. Among the outstanding contributions of his administrations was the program for the conservation and restoration of the state's natural resources, including legislation requiring strip-mine operators to reclaim spoil banks and the governor's voluntary "Plant Ohio" campaign.

All phases of the state's welfare program were greatly expanded under his administration, with state expenditures in that field in the fiscal year 1952-53 reaching a total of $97,405,726. At many state institutions improvements were made in existing facilities and new buildings were constructed. The latter include modern hospital buildings at Applecreek, Lima, and Tiffin state hospitals. After a serious riot at the Ohio State Penitentiary, October 31-November 3, 1952, which dramatically demonstrated the overcrowded conditions in the state's penal institutions, the governor called a conference of welfare officials and legislative leaders to develop a plan for prison improvement. To implement this program the 100th general assembly appropriated $8,- 500,000 to augment the $5,000,000 program then under way. Several new buildings at various penal institutions have been completed, and the first unit of the new Marion Training School for older delinquent youths, a $3,250,000 building, is under construction.

Expansion programs were developed in all of the state's institutions of higher learning, and a huge medical center was opened on the campus of the Ohio State University in November 1951. Governor Lausche was criticized for his reluctance to recommend higher appropria- tions from the general revenue fund for the support of public schools. He advocated greater support and control by local school districts.

In 1949 the legislature voted to float a bond issue for the construction of a turnpike across Ohio to connect with the Pennsylvania turnpike. A bond issue of $500,000,000 was approved by popular referendum in November 1953 to finance a long-term highway improvement program commensurate with the requirements of present-day traffic. The cost of amortization of the bonds is to be met by the gasoline tax and a new weight-distance tax on trucks. The governor enforced this tax in the face of much opposition, believing it to be the fairest form of assessment for highway use. The governor called a special session of the assembly in December 1951 and appointed a highway commission to deal with highway problems and administration.

In May 1949 the governor approved a law providing for a civil defense organization. Under this law the governor appointed an advisory defense council and set up a defense organization throughout the state. As ex-officio chairman of the council he assumed active direction of the organization and made Ohio one of the leading states in this field. His leadership was recognized nationally by appointment to the presi- dent's advisory council of governors.

In 1949 the assembly authorized the appointment of a sesquicenten- nial commission to plan the observance of the state's 150th anniversary. The governor appointed a commission headed by Harvey Firestone, Jr., and served as an ex-officio member of the commission. During 1953 he made numerous speeches and appearances throughout the state in connection with the celebration.

Throughout his administrations Governor Lausche waged a con- tinual warfare upon commercialized gambling and racketeering in Ohio.

Governor Lausche's great popularity with the voters and his achieve- ments as Ohio's chief executive made him a national figure. President Roosevelt appointed him a member of a national committee to investigate alleged racial discrimination in the South, and in 1950 he was elected chairman of the Governors' Conference of the United States.

The life of Frank J. Lausche, the son of immigrant parents who became Ohio's first and only four-term governor, is an American success story. This fact was dramatically recognized when Western Reserve University presented him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on June 11, 1951. The citation read: "Frank J. Lausche, jurist, public servant and demonstrator that America is still the land of opportunity." Juvenile Court of Cuyahoga County

ALBERT A. WOLDMAN

Since the sketch of Governor Lausche was written, he has continued his active public career. In 1954, he was elected to a fifth term as gover- nor by a majority of approximately 213,000 votes over his opponent, James A. Rhodes, then serving his first term as auditor of state. The 1955-57 biennium was marked by legislative appropriations of $150,000,- 000 for capital improvements and $90,000,000 for veterans of the Korean conflict, the creation of a state board of education composed of twenty-three members (one from each congressional district), and the completion of the Ohio Turnpike.

Governor Lausche resigned as governor in January 1957, eleven days before the expiration of his term, to take his seat in the United States Senate to which he had been elected in November 1956. Six years later he was reelected by a majority of over 692,000, the greatest plurality ever received by a senatorial or gubernatorial candidate in Ohio up to 1962. Throughout his senatorial career, Senator Lausche has served on the Inter-state and Foreign Commerce Committee, and since 1959 on the Foreign Relations Committee and as chairman of several important sub- committees. In the 85th congress, he was also a member of the Committee on Banking and Currency.

Senator Lausche has continued his independent course as a party politician. Party regulars criticized him for his conservative voting record, and the State Democratic Central Committee endorsed John J. Gilligan for Lausche's seat in the senate. In the May 1968 primary, Lausche lost the nomination to Gilligan by a vote of 438,588 to 544,814. The break with his party was climaxed when he announced that he would vote in the November election for the Republican presidential nominee.

THE EDITORS

Back to the Ohio Governors index


HOME || CONTACT

OHIO HISTORY STORE || CALENDAR || PLACES || RESOURCES || ABOUT || SEARCH || PRIVACY POLICY
http://www.ohiohistory.org/onlinedoc/ohgovernment/governors/lausche.html || Last modified Tuesday, 26-Jul-2005 12:23:39 Eastern Daylight Time
Ohio History Center 800 E. 17th Ave. Columbus, OH 43211 © 1996-2012 All Rights Reserved.