Ohio History Journal

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Cleveland's Johnson: The Cabinet

Cleveland's Johnson: The Cabinet






Anyone who studies the life of Tom L. Johnson always is im-

pressed by the close ties of love and loyalty that bound his co-workers

to him. Even stout enemies conceded that Johnson had a compelling

personal appeal. Tempestuous Charles A. Otis, Jr., who spent

over a million dollars trying to unseat the mayor, recalls Johnson's

"thrilling personableness." "You couldn't know him without liking

him," Otis observed. William R. Hopkins, also high in Cleveland's

Republican set, confirmed Otis' remarks. To talk with Johnson,

said Hopkins, was like receiving an electric shock. He radiated such

charm and enthusiasm that friend and foe fell helpless before him.1

How did this "magnetism" operate on those within the Johnson

orbit? First, many of the helpers not only achieved a fine record

under Johnson but also performed distinguished service at higher

posts later in life. A secretary of war, a federal trade commission

chairman, an immigration commissioner, a bank president, and a

number of judges all cut their political teeth in his administration.

The point is that when Johnson put his personal stamp on the

progressive crusade, men of high caliber were attracted to it. Many

youths, fresh from the Western Reserve campus, where they argued

hotly over municipal ownership, the three-cent fare, and equalized

taxation, gravitated to City Hall. "Instead of raising hell in senseless

pranks," recalled Marvin Harrison, "these kids took it all out in

Johnsonian politics."2

* Eugene C. Murdock is assistant professor of history at Marietta College.

This is the fourth article by Dr. Murdock on Tom L. Johnson to be published

in the Quarterly in the past four years. The others are: "Cleveland's Johnson"

(October 1953), "Cleveland's Johnson: At Home" (October 1954), and "Cleveland's

Johnson: Elected Mayor" (January 1956). A sequel to the current article, entitled

"Cleveland's Johnson: First Term," will appear in the January 1958 issue.

1 Conversations with Charles A. Otis, Jr., August 17, 1949, and William R.

Hopkins, August 6, 1949.

2 Conversation with Marvin Harrison, August 2, 1949.