John Sherman and the Washington Monument

Since monument day was this week (April 18th), we thought it only appropriate to discuss one of the most well-known monuments in our nation: the Washington Monument in Washington, D. C.

Photo by Mary McKinley.

The construction of the Washington Monument began in 1848, but was halted in 1854 as the private organization that had been funding the construction ran out of funds. The monument stood incomplete at about 156 feet tall for many years, far short of its intended 555 feet.

On 5 July 1876, Senator John Sherman brought a concurrent resolution before the Senate, proposing that Congress “at this the beginning of the second century of national existence, do assume and direct the completion of the Washington Monument in the city of Washington, and instruct the committees on appropriations of the respective Houses to propose suitable provisions of law to carry this resolution into effect” [1]. Concurrent resolutions are not enforceable as law, but proposing the resolution apparently had enough impact to get Congress to move on the idea. After some debate, Congress passed an act to fund the monument later in July, and it was signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on 2 August 1876.

With funds once again available, construction on the monument resumed. However, the original marble was no longer available, which is why the color of the monument at the base is different than at the top, and repairs had to be made to the foundation of the monument. With these challenges and delays, the construction of the monument was not completed until late in 1884, and the ceremonies to dedicate the monument did not happen until 1885 [2].

John Sherman in the 1880s. Sherman Room Archives.

John Sherman was first elected to the federal legislature in 1854 as member of the House of Representatives from Ohio, and was subsequently elected to the United States Senate in 1861. He would be a senator for more than thirty years, but he also served as Secretary of the Treasury for Rutherford B. Hayes, from 1877 to 1881, returning to the Senate after his term was up [3].

So in 1885, John Sherman was a senator representing Ohio, and had recently been Secretary of the Treasury. The Washington monument was being completed, and Congress decided that since the completion of the monument had been funded by the people, it would be fitting for there to be a dedication ceremony for the completed monument. As the man who had originally proposed that Congress provide funding to complete the monument, Sherman was chosen to chair the commission of House members and senators who planned the dedication. As such, when the day of the dedication ceremony dawned, in the freezing cold mid-December weather, Sherman was the first to give a speech.

A Senators Ticket for the Dedication of the Washington Monument on 21 February 1885, with John Sherman’s signature as the Chairman of Commission. Stamped with the number 13. Sherman Room Archives.
A ticket for the Dedication of the Washington Monument on 21 February 1885, with John Sherman’s signature as the Chairman of Commission. Stamped with the number 1142. Sherman Room Archives.

Sherman’s Speech

“The Commission authorized by the two Houses of Congress to provide for suitable ceremonies for the dedication of the Washington Monument direct me to preside and to announce the order of ceremonies deemed proper on this occasion. I need not say anything to impress upon you the dignity of the event you have met to celebrate. The monument speaks for itself–simple in form, admirable in proportions, composed of enduring marble and granite, resting upon foundations broad and deep, it rises into the skies higher than any work of human art. It is the most imposing, costly and appropriate monument ever erected in honor of one man. It had its origin in the profound conviction of the people, irrespective of party, creed or race, not only in this country, but in all civilized countries, that the name and fame of Washington should be perpetuated by the most imposing testimonial of a Nation’s gratitude to its hero, statesman and father. This universal sentiment took form in this movement. Private citizens were associated under the name of the Washington National Monument Association who secured from Congress an act authorizing them to erect the proposed monument on this ground, selected as the most appropriate site by the President of the United States. Its corner stone was laid on the 4th of July 1848, by the Masonic fraternity with imposing ceremonies in the presence of the chief officers of the Government and a multitude of citizens. It was partially erected by the National Monument Association with means furnished by the voluntary contributions of the people of the United States. On the 5th of July, 1876, one hundred years after the Declaration of American Independence, Congress, in the name of the people of the United States, formally assumed and directed the completion of the monument. Since then the foundation has been strengthened and the shaft has been steadily advanced, and now the completed structure stands before you. It is a fit memorial of the greatest character in human memory. It looks down upon the scenes most loved by him on earth, the most conspicuous object in landscape, full of objects deeply interesting to the American people, and all eyes turn to it and all hearts feel the inspiration of its beauty, symmetry and grandeur.

Strong as it is it will not endure so long as the memory of him in whose honor it was built, but while it stands it will be evidence to many succeeding generations of the love and reverence this generation cherished for the name and fame of George Washington, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen; more than even this, [he is] the prototype of purity, manhood and patriotism for all lands and all time.”

John Sherman, Speech at the Dedication Ceremonies of the Washington Monument, 21 February 1885. Printed in the Belville Star, 26 February 1885, page 3. Read it here.

John Sherman used in his speech the phrase “first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.” This phrase was not of Sherman’s creation, but rather a quotation from Henry Lee’s eulogy at Washington’s memorial service in the chambers of Congress on 26 December 1799.

Sherman’s speech was published and paraphrased in newspapers around the country, along with the other speeches given at the event. Sherman’s speech was generally remarked upon to have been short but well-done; it even garnered this rather reluctant praise in the Farmer and Mechanic newspaper of Raleigh, North Carolina: “We hate to compliment the old South-Hater, but must say that John Sherman’s speech at the Washington monument ceremonies reads the best of the lot.” [4]

Despite his critics, Sherman would continue on in his career as a senator after the dedication ceremonies, and would serve as the Secretary of State under President William McKinley before retiring to his long-time home in Mansfield in 1898. While Sherman’s most notable contribution to the United States is usually considered to be the Anti-Trust act in his name, it is also worth remembering his contributions to the effort to complete the United States’ monument to its first president, the Washington Monument.


  1. Frederick Loviad Harvey, History of the Washington National Monument and Washington National Monument Society, .p. 90-91.
  2. US National Park Service, “History & Culture [of the Washington Monument].”
  3. “John Sherman: A Featured Biography.”
  4. Farmer and Mechanic [Raleigh, North Carolina], 25 Feb 1885, page 2. Chronicling America.

Through the eyes of Margaret Marlow, Mansfield Tire & Rubber

For Women’s History Month, the Sherman Room has been featuring interviews that Nita Branson conducted in the 1920s with career women of her day (interested? since up for the email list here!)

Today’s interview was with Margaret Marlow, who was a secretary at the Mansfield Tire & Rubber Company. She seems to have made the most of a life that presented its fair share of challenges and tragedies.

Margaret Marlow was born in 1896 to William and Anna Barlow. She would be the the third of eight children in the family, and she was only 16 when her father died after being thrown from a horse. That same year, she enrolled in the Mansfield-Ohio Business College. The business college education prepared her for her position with Mansfield Tire. It is not particularly clear when Marlow was hired at Mansfield Tire and Rubber, but in the 1920 census she was listed as being a “stenographer” for the “rubber works,” so likely sometime between 1917 and 1920. The same census indicates that after her father’s death, Margaret lived with her mother and her two younger brothers. Her mother did not report having a job on the census, but her 21-year-old brother William was listed as a “winder” in the electric industry and her nineteen-year-old brother was listed as a “helper” at a steel mill.

Office workers of the Mansfield Tire & Rubber Company. Names not provided. Photographs-Mansfield Tire & Rubber. Sherman Room Collection.

In her position at Mansfield Tire, Margaret was the secretary or stenographer for George Stephens, who was the general manager. He would later go on to become the chairman of the board for the company. The interview makes it clear that Margaret applied the same approach to her work as to her personal life: taking the opportunities as they appeared. She enjoyed substituting in for other departments, as it permitted her to get to know the operations of the company better–likely an important base of knowledge for the woman who answered correspondence for the general manager of the company, in a time when letters and telegrams were generally the primary mode of business communication.

Mansfield Tire & Rubber General Manager George Stephens, Photographs-Mansfield Tire & Rubber. Sherman Room Collection.

It was not very long after the interview with Branson that Marlow left Mansfield Tire for different to pursue a different adventure. Marlow married Russell Duncan in 1923, and shortly thereafter moved to Toledo where they started a family, with a son named Jack born around 1924. According to the 1930 census, she did not continue her career after her marriage and the birth of her son. Sadly, like her father, Margaret died unexpectedly and young, in 1930 at about 34 years of age.

Mansfield Tire & Rubber’s Next Generation

Of course, Margaret Marlow was hardly the only woman who was employed by Mansfield Tire & Rubber– she was just the only one that Nita Branson interviewed for this particular series. Many years later, in 1945, Mansfield Tire & Rubber was putting out a call for new employees by featuring their supervisors in the Mansfield News-Journal. The page had photos of all the supervisors, with small blurbs about their careers at Mansfield Tire. Three of the supervisors featured in the list at that time were women:

  • Mrs. Cleo Shoup, who had worked for the company for 10 years, had been the supervisor of the salvage department for almost a year.
  • Miss Mabel Adams, with the company for 11 years, had been the supervisor of the repair department for a year and a half.
  • Mrs. Eva Schultz, with the company for 14 years, had been the supervisor of the tube department for a year and half.

So we see that Mansfield Tire & Rubber, a company that participated in many decades of Mansfield’s manufacturing history, had a number of female employees over the years, with job descriptions ranging from the secretary of the General Manager to supervisors of essential departments, and whose tenures with the company lasted decades. Some couples, like Mrs. Cleo Shoup and her husband Floyd, both worked for the Mansfield Tire & Rubber Company. For some women, the company was a stop on a different journey, as with Margaret Marlow, but for others like Mrs. Eva Schultz, it was an integral part of their lives before, during, and after marriage and family commitments.

Throughout the month, we will continue to see women who worked in the businesses that Mansfield is known for. Sign up for the email list here to learn more about the women who lived Mansfield history!

Take a Peek Around Mansfield Tire and Rubber

The Sherman Room has an album of photographs of Mansfield Tire & Rubber taken in the early 1920s, the same time period that Margaret Marlow was working as the secretary for George Stephens, the general manager (who would later go on to become the Chairman of the Board of Directors). So take a look through the photos and see Mansfield Tire & Rubber as it would have appeared to Margaret.


From the Archives: Happy Holidays from…the Roosevelts?

Happy holidays from the Sherman Room! At this point, many holiday cards have been sent and received to friends and family members across the United States, but we wanted to share one more from the Sherman Room archives with you.

Previous Sherman Room blog posts have discussed the career of Mansfield’s Henry Brunner, a local Democratic politician who was the mayor of Mansfield from 1917 to 1923.

Among a collection of items from Brunner’s personal papers that were donated to the Sherman Room this year, we discovered this holiday card. So now it’s time for a US history question: the card reads is “From The Governor and Mrs. Roosevelt;” but how were this couple better known?

US history buffs will likely remember that one Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected governor of New York in 1929 and served in that role until he was elected United States president in 1932, a post to which he was re-elected three times and in which he served until he died in 1945 and was succeeded by Harry Truman. So this holiday card was sent to Henry Brunner by Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, sometime between 1929 and 1932. The original envelope is missing, so it is not possible to say exactly which year it was sent.

The building pictured is not the New York governor’s mansion, in fact, but a different estate known as Springwood, and it was Roosevelt’s family home. He was born at Springwood in 1882 and spent his youth there, rebuilding the family home into the impressive building it remains today in 1915 with his mother. As evidenced by this card, was proud of his family home throughout his political career and life. After he died in 1945 in his fourth term as president, his body was brought back to the rose garden at Springwood to be buried as he had requested.

The Mansfield Connection

So how did it happen that “Governor and Mrs. Roosevelt” sent a Christmas card to a politician from Mansfield? As it turns out, Henry Brunner was a rather prolific politician despite never holding a higher publicly-elected office than mayor. Rather, he used his skills and knowledge behind the scenes to support the Democratic party in Ohio and the nation, and gained many notable political connection in the process. In 1923 after he was no longer mayor, he was still chairman of the Richland County Democratic party. By 1925, Brunner was a member of a special committee for the Ohio Democratic party’s executive committee, and in 1927 he became the chairman for the Ohio Democrats. He held this position until 1933. Upon his resignation, one person commented that his successor “has the handicap of going in as chairman of the Democratic party in Ohio in that he succeeds Henry Brunner who has been a great chairman. He is one of the beste [sic] leaders the party has ever had” (Findlay Morning Republican, 14 September 14 1933, page 5). Given Brunner’s position as the state chair for a state known for being important, sometimes pivotal, in presidential elections, it is perhaps not surprising that a Democratic governor of New York with presidential ambitions would send him a card at the holidays.


  1. National Park Service, Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site,
  2. Athens Messenger Newspaper Archives April 7, 1927 Page 27 (became chairman)
  3. Findlay Morning Republican Newspaper Archives September 14, 1933 Page 5 (resigned chairman)

Extra, Extra: Thousands of Pages of Unique Mansfield Newspaper Now Available Online

Newspapers have been printed since the early days of the printing press, and for decades, they were the most constant source for information in communities. Historic local newspapers provide a snapshot of a community, its businesses, and its relationship to the nation, with local news, marriages, and obituaries printed alongside national and international headlines, providing instant context of the local news against a larger historical events.

Since newspapers are such an important resource for local history research, we are excited to announce that there are thousands more pages of Mansfield newspapers available online through our digital newspaper archive!

The digital newspaper archive project started several years ago, in partnership with the Ohio Genealogical Society, the Mansfield Memorial Museum, and the Richland County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, and was funded by an initial grant from the Gorman Foundation. This year, the Mansfield/Richland County has digitized an additional 31 reels of microfilm, making tens of thousands of additional historic newspaper pages freely available online.

The new additions include a portion of MRCPL’s holdings of the Mansfield Daily Journal (sometimes published as the Mansfield Journal) from September 1924 to December 1926. Prior to this digitization effort, the Daily Journal was only available in person at the Main Library, as there are no other known sources remaining for this newspaper.

In addition to the Journal, additional years of the Richland Shield and Banner and the Weekly and Semi-Weekly News (these are the same newspaper, but over the course of its publication years it changed its frequency) are now available online. For the Shield and Banner, newspapers from 2 May 1891 to 12 June 1913 are now available online. For the Weekly/Semi-Weekly News, newspapers from 8 January 1891to 29 December 1910 are now available online.

No library card or login information is required, and you do not have to be at the library to use the digital archive. The digital newspaper archive is keyword searchable, or you can browse by newspaper title or publication date. Find all our digitized newspapers online here: . There is also a link on the Sherman Room webpage under “Online Resources.”

Want to see a newspaper page that is not available online? As always, the microfilm archives are available in person during Sherman Room hours, or send a request with your specific request (names, dates, and pages appreciated) to

Snippets from the First Daily Journal Editions

Explore the first Mansfield Daily Journal issue, published 13 September 1924, in its entirety here.