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Holy Toledo

Holy Toledo: Religion and Politics in the Life of "Golden Rule" Jones

Marnie Jones
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Holy Toledo
    Book Description:

    "Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you" are the words upon which Samuel M. Jones, self-made millionaire and mayor of Toledo, Ohio (1897-1904) organized his life, business, and political career.

    Unlike most progressive reformers, Jones was in a position to initiate real change. His factory workers shared in the profits and took advantage of day-care facilities for their children. As mayor, he was a nationally revered public figure who supported municipal ownership of utilities, ended the practice of jailing the homeless, and made available free legal counsel to those who needed it.

    Marnie Jones relies upon a rich collection of unpublished documents to tell the compelling story of the only man in America to have run a city on the principles of the Sermon on the Mount.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5962-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. A Word about Sources
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Introduction: If You Knew My Inner Life, You Would Understand
    (pp. 1-16)

    In 1897, in the most extraordinary election in American municipal politics, the Toledo Republican machine offered a socialist as mayoral nominee. Samuel M. Jones was well-known throughout the city as a manufacturer who literally ran his factory by the Golden Rule. The machine thought it could control this newcomer; it could not have been more wrong. Jones served as Toledo’s mayor until his death in 1904; he had won three subsequent elections as a political independent. He continued to haunt the Republicans for two decades after his death: the party was unable to stop Toledo’s independent movement until the early...

  6. Part 1: Personal Transformation

    • 1 Stirred with Ambition to Try to Better His Hard Lot
      (pp. 19-37)

      In 1850, when Sam Jones was almost four, his family left their home high on Mount Snowdon in Wales in search of the American Dream. Hugh S. Jones had heard stories of prosperity and happiness that people had achieved from working in the New World. He “was stirred with ambition to try to better his hard lot,” remembered his son. Although Sam Jones left Wales as a child, its culture had a deep effect on him. The democratic ideal of Wales as a nation seems to have shaped his reform self. But the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church was even more...

    • 2 The Only Problem Worth a Man’s Attention
      (pp. 38-64)

      One Friday in the summer of 1865, Sam, not yet nineteen, reached Titusville, Pennsylvania, the headquarters for the oil region, on his way to Pithole, the nerve center of oil. Sam was dedicated to the pursuit of wealth. It seemed at the time “the only problem worth a man’s attention … the attainment of the great American ideal—making money.” That American ideal had utterly transformed western Pennsylvania, north of Pittsburgh. In 1859, Titusville had been the only village in the area, with a population between three and four thousand inhabitants. But when Sam Jones arrived, it had a population...

    • 3 The First Radical Move
      (pp. 65-88)

      Sam Jones had the experience that transformed his life during the devastating depression in 1894. Confronting desperately poor men, he came to the conviction that everything he had hoped for, worked for, and come to believe was false. As he sought to understand how to live in this new world, he fashioned a tin sign on which he inscribed the Golden Rule and hung it in his new sucker rod factory. It was, he later said, “the first radical move” of his life (NR, 64), and it would, to quote William James, form “the habitual centre of his personal energy.”¹...

  7. Part 2: Factory and Municipal Reforms

    • 4 Produce Great Persons, the Rest Follows
      (pp. 91-104)

      Sam Jones’s strategies to institutionalize selflessness in business were the immediate outgrowth of his reading and his new religious self-consciousness. He had every confidence that the men, his factory, and the neighborhood—perhaps even the industry—could be transformed. Having placed the Golden Rule at the center of his business and his personal life, he turned next to reordering the environment. He wanted nothing less than a reconfiguration of space and time, but he knew an ethical and just working environment would require Americans to rethink their assumptions about the values of space and time and their commitment to the...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • 5 I Will Not Be the Mayor of Any Ring or Faction
      (pp. 105-119)

      On a blustery March night in 1897, fifteen days before the election, Sam Jones, dark horse Republican candidate for mayor of Toledo, strode into Felker’s Hall at the corner of Hawley and Vance Streets half an hour late. He strode on stage, ignoring the podium. Jones told the crowd he felt uncomfortable standing high above them; after all, he had been down among the people all his life—that was where he belonged. The fifty-year-old candidate then sprang nimbly from the stage to the floor of the hall. The crowd shifted back and forth, craning to get a look at...

    • 6 The Time to Think about Someone Besides Self
      (pp. 120-138)

      Samuel Jones’s greatest interest always had been the problem of unemployment. As he took on the responsibilities of governing Toledo, he considered the right to work essential to the health of the city. Work had for him a larger meaning than merely a job and a salary. He believed that honest, useful work suited to the person was essential to the development of a healthy personality. Sam himself finally had foundusefulwork that would tremendously develop his ideas and his unique talents. His mayoralty, defined by the Golden Rule, gave him the opportunity to think consistently about others, to...

    • 7 Like Christianity, Democracy Has Never Yet Been Tried
      (pp. 139-156)

      In the early spring of 1899, the considerable force of Sam Jones’s personality would see him through a bitter fight with the Republican Party, a near-riotous nominating convention, and a triumphant reelection as a political independent. Jones had so fully fused his second identity with the Golden Rule that he gloried in the challenges of the fight. Brand Whitlock thought that “the mere force of [Jones’s] own original character and personality compelled a discussion of fundamental principles of government.”¹ The 1899 Toledo mayoral election came closer to true democracy than anything Mark Hanna or the Toledo Republican convention had in...

  8. Part 3: Political Defeats and Personal Victories

    • 8 That I May Rid Myself of Guilt and Complicity
      (pp. 159-180)

      The spring of 1899 would be the high point of Golden Rule Jones’s political career because his personal needs pushed him to make politically untenable choices later that summer. In the months between his triumphant reelection in April and August 1899, when he decided to run an independent campaign for governor of Ohio, Sam Jones took stock of himself and engaged in the greatest political gamble of his life. In the weeks following his reelection, Jones felt supremely connected to the people and confident about reform. The temptation of becoming Ohio’s governor was irresistible: how could he not run? In...

    • 9 I’m a Man Without a Party and I’m Lonely
      (pp. 181-198)

      Sam Jones’s second term as mayor gave him the opportunity to test the limits of his political power in the “freedom” of his political independence. He learned quickly that alone he could not transform his political landslide into public policy reforms. His isolation intensified as Democrats courted him, as the citizenry in Toledo disappointed him, and as socialist supporters around the country called him a traitor. The great surprise of 1900 and 1901 was that Samuel Jones, “the man without a party,” a nonpartisan mayor, seems to have denied his cardinal principle by working closely with the Democrats. Close consideration...

    • 10 I Fail Utterly When It Comes to Depending upon Love
      (pp. 199-217)

      In the next several years Sam Jones focused on dispensing judgments, in favor of others in Toledo’s police court and against himself in the court of his own conscience. Although he would still turn out the vote in 1901 and 1903, he would suffer significant defeats at the hands of the Ohio General Assembly and Governor Nash. Jones continued to handle those defeats with calm good grace but not so his own self-diagnosed failures to perfect his love. There is an odd disjunction between the two. Jones calmly accepted the orchestrated attacks against him. External attacks seem only to have...

    • 11 The Greatest Victory of My Life
      (pp. 218-238)

      In the last two years of his life the battle Jones was waging within his soul intensified. Brand Whitlock watched as his dear friend experienced “the greatest victory of [his] life”—and he saw the price it exacted from him. Jones tried to respond with love to those who fought him. He tried to deny his anger and meet the expectations of the Golden Rule. It is not surprising that this attempt struck him differently than it did his good friend Whitlock. One day Jones visited a man who had publicly “persecuted” him, hoping for a reconciliation. He was sure...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 239-269)
  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 270-278)
  11. Index
    (pp. 279-294)