Monday, Jun 18, 2018
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Road to White House includes Maumee

River city a popular stop for politicians

President Obama's stop in Maumee today marks the second visit by a sitting U.S. president to this historic city in the past decade, and several vice presidents and presidential candidates have made it a hop-off point on their campaign trails.

George W. Bush stopped there in May, 2004, during a two-day bus tour through Michigan and Ohio in his successful re-election campaign against Democratic candidate John Kerry.

Mr. Bush spoke to about 1,000 people in the Lucas County Recreation Center, addressing the issues of unemployment and job loss in the Toledo area, as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I've come to this important part of Ohio to say, 'I need your help and I want your vote,' " Mr. Bush told the crowd.

Mr. Bush's running-mate, Dick Cheney, also made an appearance in the Toledo suburb during the pair's 2000 presidential campaign. Mr. Cheney met with residents at the Maumee Senior Center where he and his wife, Lynne, assured about 80 people that they intended to protect retirement programs and institute a prescription drug insurance policy.

In September, 2008, and President Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, was stumping in Maumee. Mr. Biden appeared at a rally of 1,500 people on West Wayne Street in downtown, where people crowded shoulder to shoulder to hear him speak.

Richard Nixon visited the city at least twice during his climb to the White House, although he didn't return once his presidency was secured. In 1956, while campaigning for re-election as vice president on the ticket with President Eisenhower, Mr. Nixon stopped on his way to Toledo to talk with voters at Conant Street and the Anthony Wayne Trail.

In late October, 1968, Mr. Nixon ended a day-long whistle stop tour of the Midwest with a talk at the Lucas County Recreation Center in his successful campaign against Hubert Humphrey. He told a gathering of 8,000 he would completely remake the country's defense and foreign policies if elected.

"We'll sock it to them," he told supporters, predicting an electoral victory in a common vernacular expression of the day.

Other presidential and vice-presidential candidates have made their way to Toledo to campaign, but it's unclear how many more stopped in Maumee.

Marilyn Wendler, curator of the Wolcott House and a Maumee historian, said there is no comprehensive list that she's aware of that documents the major political figures who have passed through the city.

"There's so many legends floating around," she said. "Trying to track it down is pretty hard."

Nevertheless, Mrs. Wendler said it is likely William Henry Harrison visited Maumee at some point because he was friends with James Wolcott, an early mayor and community leader. Mr. Harrison visited Perrysburg in June, 1840, giving a speech at Fort Meigs to 40,000 people before taking a trip down the Maumee River to Toledo, a Blade report said.

Jack Hiles, executive director of the Maumee Valley Historical Society, who collects historical artifacts, said he has a bandana handed out by Benjamin Harrison, on a whistle-stop tour on his campaign to become the 23rd president in the 1880s.

"I guess Ohio's a very important political state and I think everybody knows that," he said.

Maumee attracted many prominent figures and entrepreneurs during the first half of the 1800s, when the municipality thrived as a river port and center for commerce and shipbuilding.

First settled in 1817, the city was established before Toledo and served as the county seat until 1854.

Even before that, the area was the site of significant historical events related to the Northwest Indian War and the War of 1812. These include Fort Miamis -- a British fort later taken over by the Americans -- the battleground of Fallen Timbers where the Americans scored a decisive victory Aug. 20, 1794, over the British and their Indian allies, and the site of Dudley's Massacre where hundreds of American troops were massacred.

Nearby, Turkey Foot Rock marks the site where the Ottawa Indian Chief Me-sa-sa, known to the settlers as Turkey Foot, died during the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

The British established Fort Miamis on the north bank of the Maumee River in the early 1700s. In 1796 it was seized by the Americans but again occupied by the British who took it over during the war of 1812.

The British relinquished it two years after the War of 1812 ended. The site is now a Toledo Metropark along with the Fallen Timbers Battlefield site. Dudley's Massacre, the slaying of hundreds of Kentucky militiamen by British and Indian troops on May 5, 1813, during the first siege of Fort Meigs occurred where the Maumee Library now stands. During the battle 220 soldiers were killed and 350 others taken prisoner. By comparison, in 1876 at the more well-known Battle of Little Big Horn, 263 soldiers were killed.

In the years leading up to the Civil War, Maumee was a major stop on the Underground Railroad used by slaves fleeing their masters in the South. Residents were "conductors" guiding them to freedom.

The House of Four Pillars at 322 East Broadway St. ,owned by Andrew Anderson, a physician who had anti-slavery sentiments, was a key link in the Underground Railroad.

"So much happened here," Mrs. Wendler said. "The Fort Miamis, Fallen Timbers battleground, Fort Meigs is just across the river, and with the Wolcott Museum Complex ... we are very representative here of all the various types of architecture and history."

Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett at or 419-724-6272.

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