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Jones Vs. Jones
In Toledo a civic crusade matched the popular mayor against a famed evangelist—both with the same name
April 1961 | Volume 12, Issue 3
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.”