Description: Photograph of John Mercer Langston (1829-1897), an African American lawyer, congressman, and university official from Virginia and Ohio.
Langston was born in 1829 in Virginia, the son of a wealthy white planter and an emancipated slave. His parents died in 1834, leaving Langston a sizeable inheritance. He moved to Ohio, living first in Marietta, and then in Cincinnati before attending Oberlin College, graduating in 1849. Although he was prohibited from attending law school because of his race, Langston read law and became the first African American lawyer in Ohio, passing the bar in 1854. He settled in Brownhelm, Ohio, where he was elected town clerk in 1855, becoming one of the country's first African American elected officials. Not long after, he moved to Oberlin, where he served on city council and the board of education. During his long career Langston explored many interests, including law, politics, public service, and education. He was a leader in the anti-slavery and African American rights movements, and was also sympathetic to the temperance and women's rights causes. During the Civil War he helped recruit African Americans to serve in Ohio regiments. He died in 1897. View on Ohio Memory. Image ID: AL05836 Subjects: Langston, John Mercer, 1829-1897; African American Ohioans; Lawyers; Elected officials; Civil War; Education; Underground Railroad--Ohio; Abolitionists Places: Brownhelm (Ohio); Oberlin (Ohio); Lorain County (Ohio)
Description: This is the seating plan of the House of Delegates assembled for the Constitutional Convention convened in Columbus and Cincinnati between May 1850 and March 1851.
The Constitution of 1851 created a more democratic system within the state, giving Ohio voters the right to elect the governor, other high-ranking state officials, and judges. Rather than having only two levels of courts within the state, a third level, consisting of district courts, was added between the Ohio Supreme Court and common pleas courts. An overwhelming majority of the delegates voted against extending suffrage to African American men and women of all races. The voters also had to approve all constitutional amendments in the future, and received the option to call a new constitutional convention every twenty years.
The convention adjourned its proceedings on March 10, 1851. Seventy-nine delegates voted in favor of the constitution, while fourteen people opposed it. To go into effect officially, Ohio voters had to approve the constitution, which they did overwhelmingly on June 17, 1851. Although numerous amendments have modified the Constitution of 1851, this constitution remains the fundamental law of Ohio. View on Ohio Memory. Image ID: OVS1210 Subjects: Ohio Government; Constitutional conventions; Constitutions; Elected officials; Places: Cincinnati (Ohio); Hamilton County (Ohio)
Description: Composite photograph of delegates to the Fourth Ohio Constitutional Convention, 1912. Men are identified numerically by their name and the county they represent, or the position they hold in the convention. A small inset photograph shows the opening day of the convention, taken January 9, 1912.
In 1911, Ohio voters approved the election of delegates to a constitutional convention. On January 12, 1912, the 120 men met for the first time to begin revising the existing constitution. Because the 1874 convention failed to convince a majority of voters to support its revised constitution, the 1912 convention offered voters the opportunity to approve or reject amendments individually.
Of the 41 amendments proposed, voters approved 33. Some changes that were approved included mandating an 8-hour day for state-funded workers, establishing compulsory workers' compensation and revising the judicial system. Voters rejected amendments that would have allowed women to vote or hold offices related to care of women and children, as well as the removal of qualifications that voters must be white, despite the fact that African American men had been voting since 1870; the language was not changed until 1923. View on Ohio Memory. Image ID: OVS3117 Subjects: Ohio Government; Constitutional conventions; Constitutions; Elected officials; Places: Columbus (Ohio); Franklin County (Ohio)
Description: Photograph of John Patterson Green (1845-1940), a Republican from Cuyahoga County who served in the Ohio House of Representatives during the 65th session (1882-1883) and 69th session (1890-1891) and in the Ohio Senate during the 70th session (1892-1893) of the General Assembly.
Green was born in 1845 in New Bern, North Carolina, to free African American parents. His father died when he was five years old, and in 1857, Green's family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Green attended high school, studied law and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1870.
He became the first African American elected to political office in Cuyahoga County in 1873 when he became a justice of the peace. Green remained in politics, serving in the Ohio House and Senate. As a representative, Green introduced the legislation that established Labor Day in Ohio. He also advocated civil rights laws for the state. Green was only the second African American to serve in the Ohio House of Representatives and the first to serve in the Ohio Senate.
President William McKinley appointed Green as Government Stamp Agent in 1897. When Congress eventually abolished this position, Green returned to his home in Cleveland and established a law practice with his two sons. He later wrote an autobiography entitled "Fact Stranger Than Fiction." Green died in Cleveland in 1940. View on Ohio Memory. Image ID: P206_B05_Green Subjects: African American Ohioans; Ohio House of Representatives; Ohio--Politics and government; Elected officials; Civil rights; Labor Day Places: Cleveland (Ohio); Cuyahoga County (Ohio)
Representative George Washington Williams portraitSave
Description: Portrait of George Washington Williams (1849-1891), a Republican representative from Hamilton County who served in the Ohio House of Representatives during the 64th session (1880-1881) of the General Assembly.
Williams was born in Bedford Springs, Pennsylania, on October 16, 1849. During his lifetime, he was an American Civil War veteran, journalist, politician and historian. Upon leaving the military, Williams enrolled at Howard University and eventually in Newton Theological Institution, where he was ordained as a Baptist minister. He found employment in numerous churches, but he eventually moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he studied law. He served in the Ohio General Assembly from 1880 to 1881, becoming the first African American to be elected to the Ohio State Legislature. He died on August 2, 1891, in Blackpool, England, and is buried in Layton Cemetery in Blackpool.
View on Ohio Memory. Image ID: SC4178_01 Subjects: African American Ohioans; Ohio House of Representatives; Ohio--Politics and government; Lawyers; Elected officials; Places: Cincinnati (Ohio); Hamilton County (Ohio)
Description: Photograph of George W. Hayes (1847-1933), a representative from Hamilton County who served in the Ohio House of Representatives during the 75th session (1902-1903) and 76th session (1904-1905) of the General Assembly.
Born in 1847 into slavery in Louisiana, Hayes was of mixed African American and American Indian heritage. Initially pressed into Confederate service at a young age during the Civil War, he soon escaped and enlisted in the Union Army. After the war, he moved to New York, and later to Cleveland and then Cincinnati, Ohio. He worked as a public school teacher before his appointment as a clerk with the U.S. Court clerk's office--the first African American appointed to the role. He worked in this position for three decades until he was nominated as a state representative in 1901. Over the years, Hayes served as a long-time trustee for the Ohio Institute of the Blind, the Orphans' Home for Colored Children in Cincinnati, the Union Baptist Church and Wilberforce University. View on Ohio Memory. Image ID: P206_B11_Hayes Subjects: African American Ohioans; Ohio House of Representatives; Ohio--Politics and government; Elected officials; American Indians; Veterans; Educators Places: Cincinnati (Ohio); Hamilton County (Ohio)
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