Lisbon, Ohio LeeAnne’s home town was one of our first stops on our return to the States. Lisbon is a little
burg village located in north-eastern Ohio, but it is surprisingly deep in history and dare I say it? The history of the United States may have been dramatically different without little Lisbon, Ohio. Learn the shocking truth below.
The village of New Lisbon was founded as a “Canal Town” by one Lewis Kinney in 1802. It’s the second oldest town in Ohio, and home to the oldest stone house in the state. Soon after it’s founding it became a center for iron and whiskey production and the population boomed from zero to over four thousand in it’s first decade of existence. That rate of growth wouldn’t long continue, as Lisbon’s population plateaued at near four thousand for the next two hundred years or so.
During the War of Northern Aggression the feared Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan was captured outside Lisbon after crossing the Ohio River and leading raids on various sites in Indiana and Ohio. Attempting to join his forces with General Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg, he – like many others over the years – could not find a way out of Columbiana County. During this time Lisbon was an active site on the Underground Railroad, and there was a strongly abolitionist newspaper published from Lisbon – there were many Abolitionists in and around the village.
But the two names that connect Lisbon with US political history are Mark Hanna and John McKinnley. McKinnley, the twenty-fifth President of the United States lived in Lisbon briefly with his grand parents. And while they met elsewhere, it was the political alliance John McKinnley formed with Lisbon native Mark Hanna that would shape both of their careers, and redefine political campaigns in the United States.
Think of McKinnley as a 19th century version of George Bush to Mark Hanna’s Karl Rove. Something of a twit, McKinnley looked to Hanna to organize his 1896 campaign against William Jennings Bryan. Hanna raised an unprecedented amount of money and used it to organize one of the first truly national political campaigns in this country. As a result McKinnley thrashed Bryan in the polls and the new administration used it’s mandate in it’s first four years to focus on putting corporate interests ahead of the national interest, and administering the Spanish-American War – the first war Americans would fight off the North American continent. During much of this time the President would rely on Mark Hanna for many of his most important decisions. Hmm, sound familiar to anyone?
Of course, McKinnley was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz in 1901 and he was succeeded by Teddy Roosevelt as President. Hanna and Roosevelt had long before had a falling out and the Lisbon Gang’s influence soon faded. The town just hasn’t been the same since. So one way of looking at it is this, without Lisbon, and Mark Hanna, would there be any Karl Rove or Spanish American War? Without a Spanish American War would there be a Mount Rushmore with Teddy Roosevelts face on it?