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C. William O'Neill and the 1958 right-to-work amendment

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Title: C. William O'Neill and the 1958 right-to-work amendment
Creators: Hissam, Michael B.
Advisor: Stebenne, David L.
Issue Date: 2005-06
Abstract: C. William O’Neill is the only person in Ohio’s history to serve at the top of all three branches of state government. In the course of a lengthy career, he suffered just one defeat at the polls. In 1958, O’Neill lost his gubernatorial reelection bid to the man he defeated in 1956, Michael V. DiSalle, by what was then the largest margin of defeat ever for an incumbent governor. The atmosphere of the 1958 election was charged by the presence of a “Right-to-Work” Amendment on the ballot, which would have outlawed mandatory union membership agreements. The amendment was defeated by nearly a million votes, and conventional wisdom in Ohio politics has held that O’Neill’s sole electoral defeat was the result of an attack by organized labor as retribution for the governor’s endorsement of “Right-to-Work.” Research into primary sources, however, has revealed that this conventional explanation is inaccurate. O’Neill time as governor has never been studied from a biographical perspective focused on O’Neill himself, and has never been studied by a historian, but rather by journalists or political scientists. This research demonstrates how organized labor reached a historical high point of political success, how the Ohio Republican Party committed its biggest political blunder to date, and how an otherwise well-liked public official was swept up in the only defeat of his career.
Series/Report no.: The Ohio State University. Department of History Honors Theses;2005
Keywords: Ohio Politics
Ohio Republican Party
Labor Unions
Ohio History
Michael V. DiSalle
Governors of Ohio
Union Shop
Sponsors: Arts & Sciences Honors Thesis Fund, Undergraduate Student Government Academic Enrichment Grant, 2004 Honors Summer Research Internship
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1811/420
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