Learning Presidential History

Last month we saw the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States and the changing of the nation’s head of state. This month we celebrate President’s Day. How many people realize that there are within an easy drive from Parma four presidential homes or museums that are open to the public?

The first is in Mentor and is the home of our nation’s 20th President, James A Garfield. The home is called Lawnfield and is a National Historic Site. Garfield was President only six and a half months. Four months after he became President in March 1881, he was shot in a Washington DC railroad station. He lingered for two and a half months before dying of his wound. His tomb is in Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland and it is open to the public.

James Garfield was the last president born in a log cabin. He was born in what is now Moreland Hills in eastern Cuyahoga County. His father died when he was an infant and he was raised by his mother. As a young man he worked as a canal man on the canals in the area. Through his and his mother’s savings, he was able to attend what is now Hiram College. By the time he was thirty years old, he had become the President of the college.

He left that position to enlist in the Union army during the Civil War. But he resigned his office when he was elected to the House of Representatives. He was nominated for President in 1880 on the Republican party ticket. His election as President was close and he was the last person elected President that came directly from the House of Representatives. He was also ambidextrous and could write Greek in one hand and Latin in the other hand simultaneously.

If you drive about 80 miles west of Cleveland to Fremont Ohio, there is the home of Garfield’s predecessor as President, Rutherford B Hayes, our 19th President. His home and library are on the property where he lived before and after his presidency. It is called Spiegel Grove. It is also open to the public. If you think that last year’s election was contentious, the election of 1876 was perhaps the most contentious election in history.

Some interesting facts about our 19th President are that he also was an officer in the civil war and was wounded four times. After the civil war, he served as governor of Ohio and is called the “father of the Ohio State University” because of his insisting that Ohio establish a “land grant” college under the 1862 law signed by Lincoln allocating federal land for colleges to teach agriculture. In 1870, Hayes signed the bill establishing the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College that became the Ohio State University.

In addition, Hayes’ wife Lucy Webb Hayes was the first presidential wife referred to as the “first lady”. She was also the first presidential wife to hold a college degree. She had a teaching degree from Ohio Wesleyan College. The Hayes forbade the serving of alcoholic beverages at White House functions, so she earned the nickname of “Lemonade Lucy”. Rutherford Hayes said when he became President that he would only serve one term. He kept his word and left the presidency in 1881. He also established the first presidential library which is on the property Spiegel Grove and is open to the public.

An hour’s drive south in Canton is the museum of President William McKinley, our nation’s 25th President. He lived in Canton, but his old house is not standing. But his museum and tomb are in Canton. McKinley was the last of the presidents who fought in the civil war. He was elected in 1896 as a Republican, defeating the charismatic William Jennings Bryan. McKinley conducted a “front porch campaign” where the reporters came to Canton to hear him speak, while Bryan campaigned all across the country.

McKinley is best known as the President during the Spanish – American War that established the United States as a major world power. As a result of that brief war, the United States obtained Puerto Rico, the Philippines and annexed Hawaii. McKinley was re-elected to a second term in 1900, but in September 1901, he was assassinated while attending an exposition in Buffalo New York.

There are other presidents who lived in Ohio. In Marion, just north of Columbus is the home of Warren Harding. In Cincinnati is the home of William Howard Taft and near Cincinnati is the birthplace of Ulysses Grant as well as the home of William Henry Harrison and the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison. So one doesn’t need to travel far to learn some presidential history.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 8:53 AM, 02.01.2021