FDR, James M. Cox both influenced 1940s Dayton, Ohio – M. Ruth Myers

FDR, James M. Cox both influenced 1940s Dayton, Ohio

By M. Ruth Myers

Although the Maggie Sullivan mysteries are set in the 1940s, two powerful men often mentioned in them — FDR and newspaperman James M. Cox — had been close acquaintances for more than twenty years. Indeed, they formed the Democratic presidential ticket in 1920.

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“Governor Cox” as he was referred to in Dayton, owned the Dayton Daily News where Maggie’s pal Matt Jenkins works. Even Heebs, the rag-tag boy who lives on the street and gets by on money he earns selling papers, uses that name for a man he’s probably never met.

A self-made man, Cox bought a struggling afternoon paper and christened it the Dayton Daily News. By 1900 he had turned it into a success which outperformed all competitors. From 1908 onward it operated out of an imposing three-story building with columns across the front on the corner of Fourth and Ludlow. Because a bank had denied him a loan to acquire his first paper, Cox instructed the architect who designed it to make it look like a bank.

In 1909 Cox was elected to the US House of Representatives, where he served until 1913. He resigned to serve as governor of Ohio from 1915-1917. That would be followed by another two terms as governor from 1917-1921.

When he ran for President in 1920, Cox chose as his running made young Franklin D. Roosevelt, then assistant-secretary of the Navy. Cox supported women’s suffrage and the Volstead Act which enforced Prohibition.

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Although Cox failed in his quest for the highest office in the land, his media empire had been growing. By 1940 he owned newspapers from northern Ohio to Atlanta, Georgia. He also owned radio stations stretching as far south as Miami, Florida.

His running mate from the 1920 election didn’t fare too badly either. FDR went on to become America’s only three-term President.

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Powerful men underestimate the tenacity of a 1939 woman P.I. determined to solve a quarter-century-old murder.

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2 comments
Michele Losse says December 8, 2016

Love the blogs, keep them coming!

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Ruth says December 8, 2016

Thanks, Michele! I’m working on it.

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