Ohio History Journal

Reviews, Notes and Comments

Reviews, Notes and Comments.           557



Since the publication of the QUARTERLY for January, 1920,

frequent complaints have been made by the representatives of

one of the dominant political parties in regard to the article en-

titled "The Ohio Workmen's Compensation Law." It has been

charged that the author of that article, Mr. Mengert, is a par-

tisan; that he has not stated fairly the leading facts in regard

to the attitude of prominent public men toward the law; that

the views of former Governor Frank B. Willis, now United

States Senator, and Governor James M. Cox are not fairly

presented; that the article in fact is political propaganda in the

interest of a party and its prominent leader; that due credit has

not been given former Governor Harmon for his influence in

the inauguration of workmen's compensation in Ohio; that

Governor Cox was not originally in favor of the state monopoly

feature of the present law; that workmen's compensation was

not an important issue in the gubernatorial campaign in 1914;

that both Cox and Willis and their respective parties favored

workmen's compensation in that campaign; that the favorable

attitude of Governor Willis toward the law through his adminis-

tration has not been fairly shown in the article. The complaints

have come from individual Republicans and those connected

with the state organization of that party. They have said that

while they have not brought political discussion into this publica-

tion and do not desire to do so, they are unwilling, without pro-

test, to have the article on "The Ohio Workmen's Compensation

Law" written down for the perusal of the present and future

generations in a publication of the dignity and authority of the

Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Quarterly.

The Editor wishes to state in this connection that the article

in question was published in the interval between his appoint-

ment as Secretary and the death of his predecessor, Honorable

E. O. Randall. The Society was without a Secretary and the

QUARTERLY without an Editor when the article was published.

Workmen's compensation in Ohio has been a subject of

partisan controversy since the year 1912. The literature issued

by the campaign committees of both parties teems with charges

558 Ohio Arch

558       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications.

and counter-charges on issues growing out of this subject. Those

interested are referred to this literature and the newspapers for

the attitude of men and parties toward workmen's compensation.

No good purpose can be subserved by the publication in the

QUARTERLY of the views of representatives of political parties on

this subject. It should be sufficient to record here the fact that

a protest has been made. The Society desires the interest and

support of prominent Ohioans of all parties. The QUARTERLY

cannot afford to devote its space to matters of current political

controversy. If a mistake has been made in this matter in the

past it cannot be corrected now by repetition. We are sure that

upon mature consideration this will be the view of members of

our Society and of all persons interested in its work or in the

controversy to which we have felt it necessary to make this



Joseph S. Benham was an eminent lawyer of Cincinnati at

the time of Lafayette's visit to that city. His fame preceded

that event by a number of years. It is celebrated in Horace in

Cincinnati which was published in 1824. In this poem he is re-

ferred to as follows:


With person of gigantic size,

With thund'ring voice, and piercing eyes,

When great Stentorius deigns to rise,

Adjacent crowds assemble,

To hear a sage the laws expound,

In language strong, by reasoning sound.

Till, though yet not guilty found,

The culprits fear and tremble.


He was an orator of impressive power and personality.

Levasseur paid fitting tribute to the address of Benham on the

occasion of Lafayette's visit to Cincinnati. References to the

eloquent advocate are found in The Centennial History of Cin-

cinnati, page 629, in Carter's Reminiscences and Anecdotes of

the Courts and the Bar pages 38-41 and in Masfield's Personal

Memories pages 164-165.