In Toledo a civic crusade matched the popular mayor against a famed evangelist—both with the same name
When the Protestant ministers of Toledo, Ohio, voted almost unanimously to invite the fiery and widely renowned southern evangelist, Samuel Porter Jones, to lead a month-long crusade in the spring of 1899, it was apparent to everyone that the salvation of souls was not their only aim. However loudly they might proclaim a great campaign to regenerate the city’s !lagging spiritual life, they seemed somehow more concerned with the outcome of the mayoralty election that was to be held while Sam Jones was in town. Inspired by his loud, folksy humor and fundamentalist faith, they hoped to drive out of office a mayor who frankly and stubbornly refused to enforce the existing laws against gambling, slot machines, drinking, prostitution, and —perhaps worst of all—Sabbathbreaking. By a strange coincidence, the offending mayor’s name also happened to be Sam Jones.
Mayor Samuel Milton Jones, nicknamed “Golden Rule” Jones, had not earned his sobriquet in jest, for in his own way he had sincerely tried to put the social gospel of Jesus into practice. Unfortunately, his views on Christianity were a little novel for his time. That the Mayor professed to believe in and run the city government on the basis of the Golden Rule—“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”- struck the ministers as sacrilegious hypocrisy, if not Red revolution. “Ministers almost to a man feel betrayed and outraged,” said one of their principal spokesmen. “They feel that the one great thing to be settled first is: Shall Toledo obey the law?”
The contest that resulted was one of the most ironic and yet significant episodes in the long and colorful history of revivalism and social reform in America. For while the two Sam Joneses were outspoken advocates of Christianity as a philosophy of life, they were absolutely at odds in their solutions to the burning social issues of the day. But more important, their struggle dramatized the irreconcilable conflict within the incipient Progressive movement between the evangelicals, who felt that reform must begin with the individual, and the social gospelers, who believed that it must begin with society. In a sense, the choice which faced the citizens of Toledo epitomized the one which faced the whole nation at the turn of the century.
Mayor Sam M. Jones was born in Ty Mawr, Wales, in 1846; he was a year older than the evangelist Sam P. Jones, who was born in Alabama and raised in the hill country of northern Georgia. Both men came from devout Methodist homes; the evangelist remembered how his grandmother had “read the Bible through thirty-seven times, on her knees.” Migrating to America in 1849, tne Mayor’s family had settled on a tenant farm in upper New York State; at fourteen, he left home to seek his fortune in the newly opened oil fields of Pennsylvania and Ohio. The evangelist, however, was brought up in somewhat better circumstances. His father was a successful lawyer and businessman, who served as a captain in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Like him, the preacher-to-be set out to become a lawyer. But his promising career was soon blighted by an unquenchable addiction to the bottle.
Thanks to his mother’s prayers and a rigorously Calvinistic upbringing, Mayor Jones was a lifelong teetotaler. He worked hard in the oil fields, and gradually saved enough money to invest in a successful oil company in Lima, Ohio. Eventually, this concern was bought out by John D. Rockefeller’s burgeoning Standard Oil Company; with his proceeds Jones opened a small factory in Toledo. Here he manufactured a mechanical contrivance called a sucker rod, used in drilling for oil, which he had invented and patented himself. It was a good invention, and as the demand for it grew, so did Jones’s financial status: the familiar American saga of rags to riches had been repeated once more.
Meanwhile Sam P. Jones was saved from alcoholism by a promise he made to his dying father in the year 1872. Once delivered from sin and drink, the reformed lawyer decided to enter the ministry. Starting his new career with “a wife and one child, a bobtail pony and eight dollars in cash,” he traveled as a Methodist circuit rider in some of the poorest counties of northern Georgia for the next eight years. While the future mayor of Toledo converted sucker rods into cash, the future revivalist converted rednecks into God-fearing churchgoers. Both men were too able, forceful, and energetic to remain long in obscurity, though it was hardly inevitable that their paths should have crossed in such dramatic fashion when they were at the height of their respective careers. Or was it?
In 1885, the Georgia preacher was asked to conduct a revival meeting for the Methodist churches of Nashville, Tennessee. Jones made such a sensational success of it that he abandoned pastoral work for evangelism. His handsome face, fiery rhetoric, and missionary zeal soon made him the most popular revivalist in the South. A slim, dark, forthright man, his deep-set eyes flashed indignation at one moment and twinkled with amusement the next. Unlike his plump, benign, walrus-mustached counterpart in Toledo, however, the evangelist did not enjoy good health and suffered often from stomach trouble and spells of exhaustion. Yet his passion for preaching drove him to constant activity. If Sam M. Jones could claim that his oil-pumping invention was advancing America’s material progress, Sam P. Jones could fairly have claimed two innovations in urban revival techniques that were, in their own way, equally as important. Not only was Jones the first evangelist in America to make revival meetings as entertaining and applause-conscious as the theater, but he was also the first one to turn revival campaigns into civic-reform crusades.
Early in his career Jones began to tell his revival audiences, “Fun is the next best thing to religion.” “When I get up to preach,” he said, “I just knock out the bung and let nature cut her capers.” Newspaper reporters noted with surprise that Jones had his audience howling in (its of irrepressible laughter more often than he had them in tears or terror. “AVc have been clamoring for forty years for a learned ministry,” he would say, “and we have got it today and the church is deader than it ever has been in history. Half of the literary preachers in this town arc A.D.’s, Ph.D.’s, D.D.’s, LL.D.’s, and A.S.S.’s.” He often parodied the old hymn “Shall Jesus Bear the dross Alone” to scold the hypocrites who came to church twice a year at Christmas and Easter, and then only to show off their new clothes. “The way you sing it,” he told these lip-service Christians, “is
It is not surprising that during the summer months, Evangelist Jones made a handsome income lecturing on the lyceum and Chautauqua circuits where he competed successfully with such platform artists as Mark Twain, Josh Billings, and Artemus Ward. By 1899 he had become as striking a testimonial to the American myth of success as his entrepreneurial namesake in Toledo; his earnings from lecturing and revivals averaged thirty thousand dollars a year, a large sum in those income-tax-free years.
Strangely enough, businessman Sam M. Jones himself undcnvcnt a religious conversion in these same years, but of a very different nature. Shortly after he moved to Toledo in 1892, he came under the influence of the Reverend George D. Herron, a Congregational minister from Grinnell, fowa, whose (laming oratory and burning interest in social problems made him one of the most controversial and influential religious leaders in the Midwest. Herron, one of the first of America’s social gospelcrs, disagreed vigorously with the accepted Protestant ethic of the Gilded Age which taught that poverty, crime, and most other social problems were due to lack of character, will power, or integrity among the lower classes. Before he heard Herron, the self-made sucker-rod magnate would have heartily endorsed this viewpoint. He would have agreed, before 1802, with the new social Darwinian philosophy preached by men like Herbert Spencer. The evolutionary principle of survival of the fittest, they said, gave scientific endorsement to the ethic of rugged individualism that Evangelist Jones espoused in these words: “God projected this world on the roothog-or-d!c-poor principle, if the hog, or man cither, don’t root, let him die.”
But after he had heard the social gospel of George Herron, the whole outlook of the rich young manufacturer was permanently altered. Herron preached that the heart of the gospel Jesus taught was the ideal of social justice—it was nothing less than the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth:
Except the state he horn again, except it be delivered from pagan doctrines of law and government, from commercial and polite conceptions of its functions … it cannot sec the divine social kingdom. … The supremacy of the law of selfinterest is the conclusion of Herbert Spencer’s materialistic philosophy. It is [lie principle upon which Cain slew his brother. … the law of self-interest is the eternal falsehood which mothers all social and private woes; for sin is pure individualism—the assertion of self against God and humanity. …
Herron’s views were re-enforced in Jones’s mind by his experience with the great depression of i8gg when he saw able-bodied men in Toledo literally begging for work to keep their families from starving. Forsaking his belief in rugged individualism and the laissez faire system based upon it, he became, like Herron, a Christian socialist.
While his business friends shook their heads and the community chicked its tongue, Jones announced in 1895 that from that time forward he would run his sucker-rod factory strictly “upon the basis of the Golden Rule.” He had arrived at this decision after reading Herron’s book, The New Redemption , in which he found this striking maxim: “He who builds a mercantile establishment upon the basis of the Golden Rule is a greater and wiser philanthopist than he who founds hospitals for the poor out of the gains of selfishness.”
To implement this principle in his own “mercantile establishment,” Jones began by cutting the regular work day from ten hours to eight, at the same time raising his minimum wage from $1.25 a day (the prevailing rate in all factories) to $2.00. He then announced that every worker in his factory would receive a Christmas bonus of five per cent of his yearly salary on the grounds that they all had a right to share in the annual profits ol the company. He instituted an employee sickness and unemployment insurance plan to which the company and the workers donated equal amounts. He purchased a plot of ground next to the factory to make a park where the workers could spend their lunch hours. It was called “Golden Rule Park.” At one end of it he built a children’s playground and at the other, a bandstand where weekly band concerts were held. He helped his employees to form their own brass band. He brought popular speakers on political and economic subjects from all over the country to address his workers, either in the park or in an auditorium which he added to the factory. He established an employee restaurant and had hot meals served there at a flat rate of fifteen cents each although they cost him twenty-one cents each. An annual company picnic was organixcd in an attempt to break down the barrier between the whitecollar clerks, the shopworkers, and the management. In addition, Jones was one of the first employers in the country to give his factory workers a regular summer vacation with pay. Hc also gave his employees shares of stock in the company to make them partowners. Though all of these reforms seem commonplace now, in 1895 they were considered the height of folly and radicalism.
But the reform which heaped upon him the ultimate in ridicule was his decision to abolish the use of supervisory bosses and timekeepers in the factory and to leave every worker free to keep his own time sheet and work at his own pace. Although he was called a muddle-headed visionary, Jones knew what he was doing. “Most manufacturers,” he said, “keep about eight out of every ten dollars which their employees earn for them. I keep only about seven, and so they call me “Golden Rule’ Jones.”
Of course, a few workers cheated him; some grumbled at the burden of responsibility thrust upon them; the company picnics failed to break down the social barriers between the white-collar and blue-collar work ers. But on the whole the experiment was a success The Acme Sucker Rod Company continued to thrive and in 1899 Jones could state publicly, “After nearl) four years, J am pleased to say that the Golden Ruh works. It is perfectly practical and worthy of a trial But my experience has shown me that it is a social not an industrial ride, and no one can truly live the Golden Rule until all live it.”
While Revivalist Jones had probably never heard of George Herron nor “Golden Rule” Jones until he received the invitation to preach in Toledo in 1899, he was not unaware of the glaring social problems of American industrial and urban life. Like most Americans, the evangelist was shocked at the record of crime and corruption which the muckraking journalists were beginning to set before the public eye. He was appalled at the effrontery of political bosses who robbed the public treasury of millions, who corrupted the democratic process by buying votes or stuffing ballot boxes, who invaded even the legislatures and the courts with bribery, boodle, and blackmail. And too, he shared the public’s growing concern with the problems of anarchism, socialism, and communism, which were associated in most people’s minds with the growth of labor unions and the increase in foreign immigration.
In his revival sermons Jones often emphasized the connection between labor radicalism and the evils of drinking, gambling, and Sabbathbreaking. “When you come down to bed-rock, all this communism and Anarchism are based upon the liquor traffic,” Jones told an audience in Baltimore a few weeks after the famous Haymarket Riot in 1886. “Where did the Chicago Anarchists hold their secret conclaves? In the back part of barrooms.” Jones warned the thrifty, industrious, respectable middle-class audiences which flocked to hear him, “Do you know what communism is? … It is the fifty thousand poor men who have been debauched by whiskey who … are now calling upon you to divide.”
When Jones conducted a revival meeting in Chicago during the bloody riots connected with the strike at the McCormick Harvester Factory in the same year, he pointed out the implications of the parades and picnics which the workingmen of the city had organized in an attempt to raise enthusiasm and funds for their cause:
It is said Chicago has more of the Communistic element in it than any other city in America. … Look at your workingmen going out to some celebration. Look on the flag [they carry] and see the inscription, “Our Children Cry for Bread!” … A more Communistic power [slogan] was never put on a flag than that. Those same men went to the grove and drank up that day fourteen hundred kegs of beer. (Laughter) If you will put your beer-gardens and barrooms out of this city and put these millions into bread and meat you will have the fattest and plumpest children and the most prosperous city on the face of the earth. (Applause) But an old devil walking around and toting a flag saying his children cry for bread—why if you were to stick a knife in his belly four gallons of beer would run out. (Great laughter).
It was perhaps Jones’s greatest contribution to revivalism that he did not, like former evangelists, look upon his crusades simply as a means of converting individuals into paragons of personal virtue and nothing more. Rather he attempted to arouse worried middle-class citizens into an army of fighting saints dedicated to stamping out the great social ills of their times. Moreover, Jones considered the mere fact of enlistment in his army tantamount to conversion. Conversion, as he defined it, was not so much a change in belief or the acquisition of grace through faith as a change in moral conduct, a resolution, as he put it, to “Quit your meanness” and to fight for decency in your community. “Conversion,” he explained, “scripturally means simply two things, i. I have quit the wrong. 2. I have taken hold of the right.” Stop waiting for a change of heart, stop saying you do not feel you have got religion, he said. “You stir around and begin to right the wrongs you have done in this city. … You will have the feeling!” He spoke for many militant reformers of his day when he declared, “I like a broad, useful, aggressive Christianity—a Christianity with a musket and a cartridge belt. Satan won this country by fighting and we must win it back from him in the same way.”
While Sam P. Jones devoted himself to reforming the country by revivalism, Sam M. Jones decided that he should try to reform the city of Toledo by entering politics. Having successfully launched his Golden Rule experiment in industrial management, the sucker-rod manufacturer entered the race for the mayoralty in 1897, hoping to give his new beliefs a wider application. As a wealthy businessman, Jones had always been a Republican, and even after his conversion to Christian socialism he did not desert his party. In fact, he was sufficiently hardheaded in his political outlook to work with the prevailing party machine in Ohio, controlled at that time by Senators Mark Hanna and Joseph Foraker. The machine, with some misgivings, gave him the Republican nomination, and Jones campaigned on a platform of “good government” and cheaper streetcar fares. His Democratic opponent, Parks Hone, tried to obscure Jones’s demands for reform by accusing him of being a front for the prohibition movement. Among the beer-loving Germans and whiskey-drinking Irish who made up over onequarter of Toledo’s population, Jones’s teetotalism was no asset. Nevertheless he managed to win the election by the narrow margin of 518 votes out of a total of 21,000.
To redeem one pledge of his “good government” platform, Jones made an attempt to get rid of gamblers, bookies, and slot machines, and to close the “wine rooms” where prostitutes made their headquarters. But he did not push these matters, and he put no pressure on the saloons which, according to the existing laws, were supposed to close at 11 P.M. on weekdays and all day on Sundays. Saloons, said Jones, were merely an “evidence of wrong social conditions,” not their cause. He accepted the arguments that the saloon was “the poor man’s club” and that the Sabbath, which was the only day off for most workingmen, was for recreation as well as for worship. Shortly after his inauguration Jones persuaded the city council to repeal the blue laws that forbade concerts and theatricals on Sunday and the ordinance requiring the saloons to close at 11 P.M. on weekdays. He could not do anything about the law requiring the saloons to close on Sunday, for this was a state law. So he simply ignored it. By this refusal to enforce Sabbatarianism he quickly brought down upon his administration the wrath of the city’s clergymen and Protestant churchgoers. Six months after he assumed office, the Protestant ministers formed a committee to wait upon him and inquire why the Sabbathbreaking was allowed to continue. Jones replied that he believed the law unjust and that no more than twenty-five per cent of the city’s citizens were in favor of it.
But there was even greater opposition to the Mayor’s views on the current business morality, for Jones wanted to take control of public utilities out of the hands of monopolistic corporations and give them, back to the people. He believed that the street railway and illuminating gas companies were mulcting the public, and he urged not only closer regulations of these concerns but eventual public ownership of them. He thoroughly overhauled the Toledo police force and, inevitably, raised the city’s tax rate to provide better municipal services. As a result, those businessmen who did not already consider him unbalanced because of the way he ran his own company soon decided that he was either a crackpot, or worse, a communist. In either case, his attempt to apply the Golden Rule in municipal affairs seemed to them a deliberate subversion of the whole American way of life. By the time his two-year term of office had expired in the spring of 1899, the businessmen and the ministers of the city were solidly united against him. While the businessmen sought to persuade the Republican party to refuse Jones the renomination, the ministers set out to bring pressure upon the churchgoing public with the help of the Reverend Sam P. Jones of Georgia.
When it became known in December, 1898, that the Ministerial Association of Toledo had decided, without a dissenting vote, to ask Evangelist Jones to hold a revival meeting in their city during the month preceding the mayoralty election of April 3, 1899, a re” porter was sent to talk to the ministers. Although they claimed that they were not specifically seeking to attack the Mayor, the ministers admitted that the evangelist was well known for his views on prohibition and civic reform and that “the administration of city affairs would be very likely to get a general overhauling at the hands of the noted preacher.” An editorial in the Toledo Bee under the head, “Two Sam Joneses,” remarked wrily, “There ought to be a hot time in the old town” during the next election campaign.
While the ministers were setting up committees and making general preparations in the weeks preceding the revival, the local Democrats and Republicans were holding their nominating conventions for city officers. The Democrats nominated for mayor a man named Dowling, who promised to campaign against the “hazardous experiments” in public ownership advocated by “Golden Rule” Jones. Jones fully expected the Republicans to renominate him; but to his dismay the party politicians chose a man named Charles E. Russell, who repudiated Jones’s policies and promised to campaign on a platform calling for a “business administration.” While Mayor Jones was still debating whether to admit defeat or try to run as a third-party candidate, Evangelist Tones arrived in town to start the revival.
The first meeting was held at the city Armory on Sunday, March 5. As mayor of Toledo, Samuel M. Jones was asked to say a few opening words to introduce Samuel P. Jones. Since it appeared that the Mayor would not be running for re-election, the tension over the revival had dropped. The Mayor spoke to the crowd in the Armory, saying that he was pleased to see that “a great many Toledoans were interested in the welfare of men’s souls” and that he himself believed that “nothing else but the love of Christ at the heart of society” would save the world. “Things are awfully wrong now, but they are going to be right. He taught us to pray, ‘Thy kingdom come.’ Why then should it not come?” The Mayor concluded by saying it gave him “great pleasure to introduce to you Reverend Sam P. Jones …” But he added, somewhat enigmatically, “There are other Joneses.”
Evangelist Jones spoke on the text, “I have fought the good fight.” “The first thing to be done in Toledo,” he said, “is to separate the crowd … we must make the issue square and draw the line. … You can’t tell who is a church member without asking the preacher. … I’m here for a fight and I’m going to say things to start it. If you can say worse things about me than I can about you, just lam in, Bud. I despise a dull time.”
But the evangelist did not say anything that day about civic corruption or the saloons. For the first week he devoted himself to amusing and scolding his audiences: “The Sweet Bye and Bye is all right, but I hit ‘em in the Naughty Now and Now.” “You have got so now in Toledo you have got to get drunk once in a while to be a gentleman.” “The more dignified a preacher is the nearer dead he is.” The closest his sermons got to the election campaign were such asides as: “Any town that can put up with 700 saloons is the nastiest place next to hell.” And “God will bless no city that desecrates the Sabbath.” He let it be known that he was neither a Democrat nor a Republican: “I’m a prohibitionist from snout to tail.”
On March 9, Mayor Jones, having decided that he had sufficient popular support to give him a fighting chance for re-election, entered the mayoralty race as an Independent. To do this he had to present a petition signed by a large number. The city’s two major papers (one Democratic and one Republican) noted gleefully that among the signers of his petition were “Joe Casper, the poolroom king,” a gambler named Bright, and Chief of Police Raitz, who had once been caught taking a drink while on duty and who would have been fired had not Mayor Jones decided to give him another chance. This was too much for Evangelist Jones. On March 11, he told the noon prayer meeting for businessmen, “You have got three men running for mayor. … Just look at the gang that is following each … and I will tell you what kind of man he is. … You elect Sam P. Jones mayor of this city and I will shut up your saloons on the clock and close up your assignation houses … and I would hire a chief of police that would not go into a saloon and take a drop of whiskey any more than he would go into a duck pond and drown himself.”
But this was mild compared to the blast the revivalist let loose the following day at a meeting for six thousand men at the Armory. The headlines in the Republican paper, the Toledo Blade , read: “Evangelist’s Hot Shot; Jones Batteries Turned on Municipal Authorities; Declares If the Devil Were Mayor He Would Not Change a Thing.” Those in the Democratic Toledo Bee proclaimed: “Sam P. Jones Rips Up Toledo’s Administration; He Prefers Rule of Hate to the Rule of Love That Keeps the Saloons Open.” Among the evangelist’s remarks were these: “You have an apostle in this town who can do everything by love. My, myt If love would have regulated the laws of this town it would have taken wings and flown off long ago. Is it love that runs 700 saloons wide open seven days a week, 400 bawdy houses every night, and 150 gambling dens that carry your young and old men down to hell?”
He denounced foreigners who desecrated the Sabbath as well as the officials who let them: “For every decent German or reputable Irishman I have the hand [shake], but for a white-washed Dutchman or an anarchistic Irishman I fix my foot. If you don’t like this country go back. … Let us have an American Sabbath and be decent.” “You say I’m fooling with politics,” he concluded, “I’m not. I’m naming no names, but I am running my engine on the track and if anything gets in the way it’s going to be run over.”
The next morning Evangelist Jones spoke at a special meeting of the co-operating pastors and laymen who met to put the churches formally into the election campaign. There it was moved that a committee of ministers try to obtain a pledge from each of the three candidates promising that if elected he would “enforce the law against the saloonists, gambling, and houses of ill fame.” The motion was passed.
The Republican candidate, Russell, who had hitherto said nothing about saloons, now issued a ringing statement that if elected he would use all the authority of his office to enforce the law against “the impudent assertions of the brewers, saloons, gamblers, and brothels.” Russell called upon “every good citizen” to “take off his coat and work for the home and fireside.” The Democratic candidate, Dowling, hedged on the question. As expected, Mayor Jones told the ministerial committee, “It would not be consistent for me to sign a paper pledging myself to make Toledo anything more than what its citizens desire it to be. At the same time he said, “I do not believe that the extirpating method to which [the Reverend] Mr. Jones pins his faith is either the Christian or the scientific method. … I believe the only way in which the saloon will finally disappear will be through the growth of the loving spirit in mankind which will provide opportunity for people to live decently human lives. …”
But Evangelist Jones would have none of that. For the remainder of his stay in Toledo—which was extended from March 19 to March 22 at the request of the ministers—he continued to “draw the line” and “fire hot shots” at the Mayor in the name of decency, respectability, and Christianity. “When a man takes the oath of office to do the duties of that office, draws his salary, and does not do it, he is a perjured scoundrel in the sight of God and honest men. (Applause) If you have a law on your statute book you don’t enforce, you have communism inaugurated. If you have a state law you can’t enforce you have anarchy in vour midst.”
The city’s two newspapers gave the evangelist’s remarks front page headlines. If Mayor Jones’s policies were continued for another two years, said the Bee ,
Capital will immediately put Toledo on the list of municipalities to keep away from. … Capital isn’t investing in towns that are run by theorists … The Golden Rule and the Declaration of Independence have nothing to do with it. Our credit is at stake. … Think this over. It affects your pocket-book.
Meanwhile the Blade ran a series of cartoons on its front page depicting Jones as a tool of the saloonkeepers and declared editorially, “The socialism of Mayor Tones breeds anarchy.”
Throughout the month of March the city’s ministers (with a few notable exceptions) denounced Mayor Jones from their pulpits and called for a civic cleanup. The Reverend G. A. Burgess, a Congregationalist and a prime mover in bringing the evangelist to the city, quoted statistics in his Sunday morning sermon on March 19 to show that private ownership of public utilities was cheaper than public. “But the financial question is not the leading question,” said Burgess; “moral legislation” was.
Mayor Jones’s failure to enforce the laws against the saloons was “anarchy.” Mayor Jones tried to counter such attacks by insisting that the moral question was a red herring. “It is a false issue raised to divert the public mind from, the main question … the prize they are playing for is nothing less than one of the most gigantic schemes of franchise-grabbing ever concocted.” As the Mayor saw it, the ministers were the dupes of “the corporate interests,” particularly the city traction company, which had been out to defeat Jones from the start in order to prevent his taking over the street railways from which they made exorbitant profits.
Ironically, Mayor Jones’s election campaign had, in its way, as much religious fervor as the revival meetings which Evangelist Jones was conducting at the Armory. The Mayor’s good friend, the writer and future diplomat Brand Whitlock, said of his political rallies: “He was like an evangelist, in a way, and his meetings were in the broad sense religious. … His evangel was that of liberty.” Like the evangelist, Mayor Jones had a lively sense of humor and liked a good fight. He was a good debater, and he loved to sing the campaign songs which he wrote himself to the tunes of old Welsh folk songs, Methodist hymns, or stirring marches. The words which he wrote for his campaign song of 1899 epitomized his philosophy in all its faith and optimism. It was set to a tune which may well have been selected in acknowledgment of the evangelist’s part in the campaign; the tune was “Marching Through Georgia.” The Mayor, however, entitled it, “Industrial Freedom.”
But the Mayor did not campaign on such a vague platform as this. His campaign promises included the following concrete planks: “Public ownership of all public utilities.” “No grant of new or extension of existing franchises” by the city to private interests. “The abolition of the private system of doing city work.” “A minimum wage of $1.50 per day for eight hours of common labor.” “Organized labor to be employed on all public work.”
Evangelist Sam P. Jones struck his culminating blow for righteousness at the final meeting of the revival on March 22. There were various reports of the exact words he used. Brand Whitlock quoted him as saying, “I am for the Golden Rule myself, up to a certain point, and then I want to take the shotgun and the club.” The headlines of the Toledo Bee read: “Jones’ Farewell. … Says Shotgun Is Better Than the Golden Rule in Politics.” The version recorded by the Bee ’s reporter had Jones saying, I have nothing to do with politics, but I have to do with a theory that will land your town in ruin. … I see a mad dog coming over my fence and my wife and children are there. Do I say, “I believe in the Golden Rule for that dog?” The mad dog in this town is the saloon and the shameless houses. … I say the way to meet a mad dog is with a shotgun.
During the remaining week of the election campaign the Anti-Saloon League organized rallies endorsing Russell; the ministers continued to deliver sermons demanding law enforcement, and the two newspapers printed cartoons and editorials lampooning the Mayor’s crackpot ideas. But all their efforts and all the words of the evangelist came to nothing. On election day Mayor Jones carried every ward in the city except one and was re-elected by a landslide. The vote was: Jones—16,733; Russell—4,266; Dowling—3,148. According to the Toledo Blade , the Mayor’s “personal popularity” made the voters “overlook his visionary theories.” “The socialistic theories of Mr. Jones, dangerous as they appear to the great mass of thinking men, appeal to a class of voters who have nothing to lose and everything to gain.” The Mayor put it somewhat differently: “The people kept their minds on the one great question—Shall we have the Golden Rule of all the people or the rule of cash by a few people?”
There was no comment from the ministers, but their subsequent endorsement of other professional evangelists, like Billy Sunday, indicated that the outcome of the election had in no way affected their faith in revivalism to solve the “moral questions” of the day. Undaunted by his evident repudiation in Toledo, Evangelist Jones continued to tour the country bringing his method of civic reform to other corrupt cities. Meanwhile the people of Toledo continued to vote for Mayor Jones and his “Golden Rule” until 1904, when he finally died in office.
In the years that followed, many Americans continued to believe, like the evangelist Jones, that meaningful reform must always begin with the individual and that the most urgent problem of the day was to prohibit the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. In this respect the Toledo campaign clearly foreshadowed the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment. Inasmuch as Mayor Jones won, however, it also foreshadowed the political and economic reforms of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. In the ensuing decades, the majority of Americans adopted the outlook of the mayor who believed that the American system itself needed reform. The eccentric mayor, rather than the church-sponsored evangelist, embodied the real temper of the new century.