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Published: Tuesday, 6/15/2010

Statuary Hall vote wraps up in Ohio

BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - The vote is in, but don't expect to know for weeks who Ohioans have said they want to stand for them in the National Statuary Hall.

The polls closed Saturday for the unprecedented vote. The count of 25,000 ballots already received is under way, but the 36 historic sites and museums that were polling places have until Friday to deliver their paper ballots to the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus.

Ohio State University delivered a box containing about 400 ballots last Friday, society spokesman Kim Schuette said. The school had heavily promoted Jesse Owens, the African American track star and alumnus whose Hitler-era Olympic gold in Berlin undermined Nazi propaganda of Aryan superiority.

After finishing the count, the society plans to sit on the results until the state National Statuary Collection Study Committee meets in July to make its recommendation to the General Assembly.

"They've said they will take the popular vote into serious consideration, but you just never know," Ms. Schuette said. "What if it's a close vote or tie?"

The committee plans to

replace Gov. William Allen as one of two Ohio representatives in the U.S. Capitol collection. A mid-19th-century Democratic governor and congressman from Chillicothe, Allen had a tolerance of slavery and opposition to the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln that were indicative of many Ohioans' views in his time, but no longer.

Six of the 10 finalists to replace him were either abolitionists, civil rights activists or symbols, or, in the case of Ulysses S. Grant, a Civil War general.

The state's second statue in the hall, representing assassinated Republican President James Garfield, will remain.

The society is eager to see whether the vote drove traffic to historical sites.

"In the last couple of days, when the vote came down to the wire, I heard that the Shaker Historical Museum up in Cleveland had a lot of visitors," Ms. Schuette said. She noted that the Cincinnati Museum Center has yet to deliver its ballots. Three of the 10 finalists for the statuary hall had ties to Cincinnati - Grant, Uncle Tom's Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe, and medical researcher Dr. Albert Sabin.

Sen. Mark Wagoner (R., Ottawa Hills), the committee's chairman, voted early for prolific inventor Thomas Edison, born in Erie County's Milan.

Sen. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) last week cast her ballot for Stowe at the Statehouse. "She transformed our world with the power of her pen," she said.

Recent graduates of Washington High School in Washington Court House and their history teacher, Paul LaRue, recently delivered their ballots to the society. Students at the school some 180 miles south of Toledo had championed James Mitchell Ashley, the 19th- century congressman from Toledo who helped Lincoln usher the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery through Congress.

Also among the finalists were the Wright Brothers, the Dayton pioneers of flight; William McCullough, the Civil Rights leader from Holmesville; Judith Resnik, the Akron astronaut killed in the Challenger space shuttle disaster; and Harriet Taylor Upton, the women's suffrage activist from northeast Ohio.



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