Eaton, Cyrus Stephen, 1883-1979

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1883-12-27
Death 1979-05-09
English

Biographical notes:

Prominent Canadian-American capitalist and financier. He was an outspoken critic of other businessmen, supporter of labor, promoter of better U.S.-Soviet relations, and organizer of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.

From the description of Papers, 1901-1978. (Rhinelander District Library). WorldCat record id: 17974952

Epithet: initiator Pugwash International Conference of Nuclear Scientists

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000497.0x0003d6

Cyrus Stephen Eaton (1883-1979) was the fifth of nine children born to Joseph Howe Eaton and the former Mary Adelle MacPherson, in the village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada. He grew up in Pugwash before coming to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1901 at the invitation of his uncle, Charles A. Eaton, then pastor of the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church, Cyrus Eaton had intended following his uncle into the Baptist ministry until he made the acquaintance of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., one of the parishioners of the elder Eaton's church. Rockefeller hired Cyrus Eaton as an office boy and personal secretary, a position he held during summer vacations from college. Rockefeller recognized his exceptional business talents and suggested to Eaton that he might best serve society by using these talents to create employment for others.

Upon graduating from McMaster University in Toronto, Canada, with a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy in 1905, Eaton decided on a career in business rather than in the ministry. He served for a period as a trouble-shooter in Rockefeller's East Ohio Gas Company before leaving to pursue an independent career. His next accomplishment was the formation of the Canada Gas and Electric Corporation before leaving to pursue an independent career. His next accomplishment was the formation of the Canada Gas and Electric Corporation in Manitoba in 1907. Thereafter he organized and consolidated numerous utility companies throughout the United States and Canada, amassing his original fortune in this manner.

In 1907 Eaton married Margaret House of Cleveland. Between 1915 and 1926 they had seven children, five daughters and two sons. Also during this period Eaton bought a farm in 1912 in northern Summit County, Ohio, which later became the family's primary residence. In 1913, Eaton became a naturalized American citizen. The Eatons were divorced in 1934.

Eaton changed the emphasis of his business activities in 1916 when he became a partner in the Cleveland investment banking firm of Otis and Company, which specialized in underwriting and marketing stock issues. Following this association, his next ventures were in the rubber and steel industries. He briefly acquired a controlling interest in Goodyear Tire and Rubber, along with positions of influence in the Firestone and Goodrich companies.

In 1925 the Trumbull Steel Company in Warren, Ohio, came under his control when he presented a check for eighteen million dollars to that company's directors, relieving them from severe financial difficulties. Expanding Trumbull Steel's operations, he merged that concern with other steel companies to form Republic Steel in 1930. At the same time he was organizing Republic Steel, he also formed the Cliffs Corporation, later known as Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company, a holding company for several iron ore shipping and steel operations.

During these years, Eaton respected the advice Rockefeller had given him years earlier. That advice was to stick to the basic industries (coal, steel, railroads, etc.) upon which all other industrial concerns were built. This, according to Rockefeller, would provide the greatest opportunity for financial success.

Eaton left the utilities industry almost completely in the early 1930s when he sold his considerable holdings in that field to Samuel Insull of Chicago, Illinois. both men had been struggling for control of the industry for some time. Insull's purchase, however, proved too much for his unstable empire to bear and ended in his financial ruin. Charges were subsequently made that Eaton had been aware of Insull's shaky financial position and had deliberately offered to sell out, knowing this would precipitate the collapse of Insull's empire. Eaton denied these charges saying, simply, that he assumed Insull knew what he was doing.

Eaton, however, did not escape the Great Depression of the 1930s unscathed. In 1933, due in large part to a costly but successful battle to prevent the merger of Youngstown Sheet and Tube and Bethlehem Steel, he lost nearly all of his business assets, retaining only Otis and Company. Continental Shares, Inc., a holding company set up to finance his various ventures, was entirely liquidated when New York banking firms foreclosed on several loans. Prior to liquidation, the price of Continental Shares stock had plummeted from $300 to $8 per share. Less than sixteen million dollars was left to distribute among 18,000 shareholders.

Eaton was forced to sell his Euclid Avenue townhouse and moved to his Summit County residence, which he named Acadia Farms. This property, enlarged through the years to more than 800 acres, remained his primary residence for the rest of his life. He developed it into a successful farming operation which, together with his even larger Deep Cove Farms in central Nova Scotia, became well-known for the Shorthorn beef cattle which he raised beginning in the late 1940s.

The 1930s were a period of slow financial recovery for Eaton, who now struggled to regain his earlier influence and wealth. For years he had argued that Wall Street unfairly exercised control over all major financial dealings, and he began his recovery by using Otis and Company in an attack on that control. Contending that this field was monopolized by a few New York firms who excluded outsiders and divided the profits among themselves, he joined with Halsey, Stuart and Company of Chicago and pressed for competitive bidding in the marketing of railroad and utility securities.

Wall Street banking firms were stunned when, in 1938, Otis and Company outbid them on a thirty million dollar bond issue being offered by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad (C&O). Thus began a close relationship between Eaton and Robert R. Young, chairman of the board of the C&O. Five years later, his financial fortunes greatly improved, Eaton became a member of the board of directors of the railroad.

Eaton continued his battle against the Wall Street bankers and made an enemy of Senator Robert A. Taft, Sr. Taft rejected Eaton's attempt to underwrite a railroad bond issue in 1939 and made it clear he resented Eaton's intrusion into the matter, offending him in the process. Eaton carried the fight to the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which eventually made competitive bidding mandatory for all public utility bonds.

Eaton came into conflict with Taft on at least two other occasions. In 1950 he contributed heavily to an unsuccessful attempt to defeat Taft's re-election bid. Two years later Eaton loaned the employees of the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper over seven million dollars to prevent the purchase of the paper by a rival Cincinnati paper owned by the Taft family.

When the United States entered World War II, the government recognized the need for a large, assured supply of iron ore to carry on a protracted conflict. Years earlier huge amounts of iron ore had been discovered in central Canada in a remote area northwest of Lake Superior and north of the famous Mesabi Range. The difficulty lay in the fact that this ore was beneath a deep lake which would have to be drained before the ore could be extracted. Many mining engineers flatly stated that the project was impossible. Even if it could be accomplished, it would take a massive financial backing with no certainty of success.

Eaton learned of the project in 1942 and purchased Steep Rock Iron Mines, Ltd. for a nominal price. He negotiated a five million dollar loan from the United States government, and persuaded Canada to provide equal assistance for the construction of docks, roads, and railway lines in the wilderness area. As a further incentive, the Canadian government agreed to waive corporate income taxes for the first three years of operation. Another company Eaton controlled, Premium Iron Ores, would buy all the ore Steep Rock could produce, and sell it to Cliffs Corporation.

In 1943, engineers built a tunnel under Steep Rock Lake for the purpose of draining the water to reach the ore. A plug of rock was left under the lake bed, to be blasted out in the final step. It was hoped that when this plug was removed the water would rush out with sufficient force to prevent the tunnel from clogging with debris from the blast. If the procedure did not go as planned, all the money would be wasted and the ore would still be inaccessible. When the last charge was ignited, however, events proceeded exactly as planned. The lake was drained and iron ore production began the next year.

After the war, in 1946, Eaton learned that the Wheeling Steel Corporation planned to close down its plan in the southern Ohio town of Portsmouth, removing the town's only industry. Eaton purchased the plant and kept it in operation, eventually merging it with Detroit Steel, another operation he controlled. He did much the same thing for the town of Follansbee, West Virginia, in 1955, when he prevented the closure of the local steel mill.

In 1948 Otis and Company signed a contract to underwrite an $11,700.000 stock issue for the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation. At the last moment Otis and Company withdrew, claiming Kaiser-Frazer had misrepresented its financial position. Kaiser-Frazer promptly filed a breach of contract suit in United States District Court. The initial decision was in favor of Kaiser-Frazer, with an award of three million dollars. The Securities and Exchange Commission entered the case also and tried to suspend the underwriting license of Otis and Company.

Eaton appealed and the decision was overturned in the United States Court of Appeals. Kaiser-Frazer had claimed a net profit of four million dollars, which the Appellate Judged termed "about $3.1 million short of the truth." Climaxing five years of costly litigation, the appellate court reversal was upheld by the United States Supreme Court, which delivered a stinging rebuke to the Securities and Exchange Commission and Kaiser-Frazer. Shortly thereafter, Kaiser-Frazer was declared financially insolvent.

Another major lawsuit involving Eaton's interests was instituted by the United States Internal Revenue Service in 1955. The IRS contended that Premium Iron Ores, the intermediary company between the Steep Rock Iron Mines and the Cliffs Corporations, was actually operating out of Cleveland and was thus liable to pay United States income taxes. These taxes, with penalties and interest added, came to ten million dollars. Eaton countered that the company was already being taxed by Canada and had conducted no business at its small Cleveland office. The issue was laid to rest early in 1959 when the United States Court of Appeals upheld an earlier rejection of the charges brought by the IRS.

Just prior to this litigation, Eaton became chairman of the board of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in 1954. He acquired this post when Robert R. Young resigned with the intention of gaining control of the larger New York Central Railroad. With Otis and Company relegated to handling private investments, the C&O became Eaton's primary business interest and his headquarters were relocated from the Cuyahoga Building to the thirty-sixth floor of Cleveland's Terminal Tower. Along with controlling the major coal-hauling railroad in the eastern United States, Eaton also acquired one of the largest bituminous coal producers, West Kentucky Coal Company.

Cyrus Eaton's concern about nuclear weapons developed as he became familiar with the nuclear chain reaction experiments conducted by scientists at the University of Chicago. As a trustee of the university, hew was aware of this work at an early stage and he came to know many of the scientists working on these experiments. It was also through the University of Chicago that he met Bertrand Russell. In 1955, the two men issued a joint appeal to the scientists of the world to gather and assess the growing dangers posed by the nuclear age. He soon announced that his Pugwash, Nova Scotia, estate would be opened to scientists of all nations to challenge them to further the cause of world peace and cooperation through an exchange of views in this relaxing environment.

These Pugwash Conference began in earnest in 1957, inspired by the warnings of Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell that nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union would result in the destruction of all mankind. Meeting in such places as Quebec, Vienna, Moscow, London, India, Ethiopia, and Czechoslovakia, and Thinker's Lodge in Pugwash, these conferences brought together notable scientists from all major nations to discuss the problems confronting the world.

Eaton also hosted a series of meetings at Pugwash for college presidents and deans. These were mainly devoted to the study of great literature and its application to world problems and were held from 1956-1961. In addition, conferences were held on such topics as the Middle East, continuing education, Chinese culture, the civilization of Indiana, and Islamic civilization.

In December 1957, Eaton married for the second time. His bride was the former Anne Kinder Jones, daughter of Cleveland Probate Court Judge Walter Kinder. The Eaton and Kinder families had known each other for years and were sympathetic to many of the same causes. Mrs. Eaton shared her new husband's enthusiasm for international politics and the Pugwash Conferences, and was also interested in domestic politics, serving as a delegate to several Democratic National Conventions in the 1950s and 1960s.

The general public became aware of Eaton's new found enthusiasm for world affairs when he visited Moscow in 1958 and was introduced to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who impressed him as a man of genuinely desiring peace and cooperation. When Eaton returned to the United States he made his views known through speeches, interviews, and letters to national leaders. He quickly became a controversial figure after placing most of the blame for the Cold War on the United States and other western nations and roundly criticizing America's State Department and intelligence-gathering agencies.

Despite the threat of a subpoena from the House Un-American Activities Committee, he continued to call for nuclear disarmament and a complete moratorium on nuclear testing. For these efforts he received the Soviet Union's Lenin Peace Prize in 1960. That same year Eaton and his wife traveled extensively through the East European countries, visiting Moscow again in December. In the United States, he hosted receptions for visiting Soviet and East European dignitaries, including a luncheon for Khrushchev in New York just prior to Khrushchev's famous table-pounding United Nations speech.

Other ventures into global politics included visits to Cuba in 1968, where he met with Fidel Castro and discussed agricultural projects, another visit to Moscow in 1965 to meet Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin, and a visit to Hanoi in 1969. This latter journey was brought on by his intense opposition to the Vietnam War and the strains it produced in American society.

In 1966 Eaton became involved in a lawsuit with the Cleveland Trust Company, a banking firm on whose board of directors Eaton once served. The subject of the litigation was the bank's practice of voting shares of stock it held as trustee to perpetuate its existing management. Eaton, who still owned a sizable portion of Cleveland Trust stock, believed this practice to be illegal and asked the courts to order an end to it. Despite a state law which seemed to rule out a bank voting its own stock, Cleveland Trust stood by its practice. In June 1967 the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court ruled in favor of Eaton, and this decision was upheld the following year by the county Court of Appeals. On appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, however, the justices ruled in March 1970 that Cleveland Trust was within its rights in voting stock held in trust.

Eaton corresponded extensively with United States Senators, Representatives, and Presidents on matters of national concern. When his interests broadened to the international scene, he began correspondence with statesmen and leaders of foreign countries on such topics as trade, American influence in the world, the United Nations, and nuclear disarmament.

Through the late 1960s Eaton gradually divested himself of his industrial holdings and directorships. He retained only the chairmanship of the C&O, which during this time became known as the Chessie System after merging with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. In October 1973, he was voted Chairman Emeritus and removed from active control of the railroad, although he retained his office in Terminal Tower and his membership on the board of directors.

In the 1970s, vindicated in part by the detente in Soviet-American relations, Eaton continued to push for nuclear arms control and international cooperation and understanding. He also maintained his opposition to the Vietnam War and spoke out against President Nixon's "dictatorial" control over the United States government. these concerns occupied his life until May 9, 1979, when he died at home at the age of 95.

In addition to other pursuits, Eaton served as a trustee for the University of Chicago, Denison University in Ohio, and the Harry S. Truman Library. He was a lifetime trustee of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was also the recipient of fourteen honorary degrees from colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for Cyrus S. Eaton

From the guide to the Cyrus S. Eaton Papers, 1901-1978, (Western Reserve Historical Society)

Cyrus Stephen Eaton (1883-1979) was the fifth of nine children born to Joseph Howe Eaton and the former Mary Adelle MacPherson, in the village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada. He grew up in Pugwash before coming to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1901 at the invitation of his uncle, Charles A. Eaton, then pastor of the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church, Cyrus Eaton had intended following his uncle into the Baptist ministry until he made the acquaintance of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., one of the parishioners of the elder Eaton's church. Rockefeller hired Cyrus Eaton as an office boy and personal secretary, a position he held during summer vacations from college. Rockefeller recognized his exceptional business talents and suggested to Eaton that he might best serve society by using these talents to create employment for others.

Upon graduating from McMaster University in Toronto, Canada, with a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy in 1905, Eaton decided on a career in business rather than in the ministry. He served for a period as a trouble-shooter in Rockefeller's East Ohio Gas Company before leaving to pursue an independent career. His next accomplishment was the formation of the Canada Gas and Electric Corporation before leaving to pursue an independent career. His next accomplishment was the formation of the Canada Gas and Electric Corporation in Manitoba in 1907. Thereafter he organized and consolidated numerous utility companies throughout the United States and Canada, amassing his original fortune in this manner.

In 1907 Eaton married Margaret House of Cleveland. Between 1915 and 1926 they had seven children, five daughters and two sons. Also during this period Eaton bought a farm in 1912 in northern Summit County, Ohio, which later became the family's primary residence. In 1913, Eaton became a naturalized American citizen. The Eatons were divorced in 1934.

Eaton changed the emphasis of his business activities in 1916 when he became a partner in the Cleveland investment banking firm of Otis and Company, which specialized in underwriting and marketing stock issues. Following this association, his next ventures were in the rubber and steel industries. He briefly acquired a controlling interest in Goodyear Tire and Rubber, along with positions of influence in the Firestone and Goodrich companies.

In 1925 the Trumbull Steel Company in Warren, Ohio, came under his control when he presented a check for eighteen million dollars to that company's directors, relieving them from severe financial difficulties. Expanding Trumbull Steel's operations, he merged that concern with other steel companies to form Republic Steel in 1930. At the same time he was organizing Republic Steel, he also formed the Cliffs Corporation, later known as Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company, a holding company for several iron ore shipping and steel operations.

During these years, Eaton respected the advice Rockefeller had given him years earlier. That advice was to stick to the basic industries (coal, steel, railroads, etc.) upon which all other industrial concerns were built. This, according to Rockefeller, would provide the greatest opportunity for financial success.

Eaton left the utilities industry almost completely in the early 1930s when he sold his considerable holdings in that field to Samuel Insull of Chicago, Illinois. both men had been struggling for control of the industry for some time. Insull's purchase, however, proved too much for his unstable empire to bear and ended in his financial ruin. Charges were subsequently made that Eaton had been aware of Insull's shaky financial position and had deliberately offered to sell out, knowing this would precipitate the collapse of Insull's empire. Eaton denied these charges saying, simply, that he assumed Insull knew what he was doing.

Eaton, however, did not escape the Great Depression of the 1930s unscathed. In 1933, due in large part to a costly but successful battle to prevent the merger of Youngstown Sheet and Tube and Bethlehem Steel, he lost nearly all of his business assets, retaining only Otis and Company. Continental Shares, Inc., a holding company set up to finance his various ventures, was entirely liquidated when New York banking firms foreclosed on several loans. Prior to liquidation, the price of Continental Shares stock had plummeted from $300 to $8 per share. Less than sixteen million dollars was left to distribute among 18,000 shareholders.

Eaton was forced to sell his Euclid Avenue townhouse and moved to his Summit County residence, which he named Acadia Farms. This property, enlarged through the years to more than 800 acres, remained his primary residence for the rest of his life. He developed it into a successful farming operation which, together with his even larger Deep Cove Farms in central Nova Scotia, became well-known for the Shorthorn beef cattle which he raised beginning in the late 1940s.

The 1930s were a period of slow financial recovery for Eaton, who now struggled to regain his earlier influence and wealth. For years he had argued that Wall Street unfairly exercised control over all major financial dealings, and he began his recovery by using Otis and Company in an attack on that control. Contending that this field was monopolized by a few New York firms who excluded outsiders and divided the profits among themselves, he joined with Halsey, Stuart and Company of Chicago and pressed for competitive bidding in the marketing of railroad and utility securities.

Wall Street banking firms were stunned when, in 1938, Otis and Company outbid them on a thirty million dollar bond issue being offered by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad (C&O). Thus began a close relationship between Eaton and Robert R. Young, chairman of the board of the C&O. Five years later, his financial fortunes greatly improved, Eaton became a member of the board of directors of the railroad.

Eaton continued his battle against the Wall Street bankers and made an enemy of Senator Robert A. Taft, Sr. Taft rejected Eaton's attempt to underwrite a railroad bond issue in 1939 and made it clear he resented Eaton's intrusion into the matter, offending him in the process. Eaton carried the fight to the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which eventually made competitive bidding mandatory for all public utility bonds.

Eaton came into conflict with Taft on at least two other occasions. In 1950 he contributed heavily to an unsuccessful attempt to defeat Taft's re-election bid. Two years later Eaton loaned the employees of the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper over seven million dollars to prevent the purchase of the paper by a rival Cincinnati paper owned by the Taft family.

When the United States entered World War II, the government recognized the need for a large, assured supply of iron ore to carry on a protracted conflict. Years earlier huge amounts of iron ore had been discovered in central Canada in a remote area northwest of Lake Superior and north of the famous Mesabi Range. The difficulty lay in the fact that this ore was beneath a deep lake which would have to be drained before the ore could be extracted. Many mining engineers flatly stated that the project was impossible. Even if it could be accomplished, it would take a massive financial backing with no certainty of success.

Eaton learned of the project in 1942 and purchased Steep Rock Iron Mines, Ltd. for a nominal price. He negotiated a five million dollar loan from the United States government, and persuaded Canada to provide equal assistance for the construction of docks, roads, and railway lines in the wilderness area. As a further incentive, the Canadian government agreed to waive corporate income taxes for the first three years of operation. Another company Eaton controlled, Premium Iron Ores, would buy all the ore Steep Rock could produce, and sell it to Cliffs Corporation.

In 1943, engineers built a tunnel under Steep Rock Lake for the purpose of draining the water to reach the ore. A plug of rock was left under the lake bed, to be blasted out in the final step. It was hoped that when this plug was removed the water would rush out with sufficient force to prevent the tunnel from clogging with debris from the blast. If the procedure did not go as planned, all the money would be wasted and the ore would still be inaccessible. When the last charge was ignited, however, events proceeded exactly as planned. The lake was drained and iron ore production began the next year.

After the war, in 1946, Eaton learned that the Wheeling Steel Corporation planned to close down its plan in the southern Ohio town of Portsmouth, removing the town's only industry. Eaton purchased the plant and kept it in operation, eventually merging it with Detroit Steel, another operation he controlled. He did much the same thing for the town of Follansbee, West Virginia, in 1955, when he prevented the closure of the local steel mill.

In 1948 Otis and Company signed a contract to underwrite an $11,700.000 stock issue for the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation. At the last moment Otis and Company withdrew, claiming Kaiser-Frazer had misrepresented its financial position. Kaiser-Frazer promptly filed a breach of contract suit in United States District Court. The initial decision was in favor of Kaiser-Frazer, with an award of three million dollars. The Securities and Exchange Commission entered the case also and tried to suspend the underwriting license of Otis and Company.

Eaton appealed and the decision was overturned in the United States Court of Appeals. Kaiser-Frazer had claimed a net profit of four million dollars, which the Appellate Judged termed "about $3.1 million short of the truth." Climaxing five years of costly litigation, the appellate court reversal was upheld by the United States Supreme Court, which delivered a stinging rebuke to the Securities and Exchange Commission and Kaiser-Frazer. Shortly thereafter, Kaiser-Frazer was declared financially insolvent.

Another major lawsuit involving Eaton's interests was instituted by the United States Internal Revenue Service in 1955. The IRS contended that Premium Iron Ores, the intermediary company between the Steep Rock Iron Mines and the Cliffs Corporations, was actually operating out of Cleveland and was thus liable to pay United States income taxes. These taxes, with penalties and interest added, came to ten million dollars. Eaton countered that the company was already being taxed by Canada and had conducted no business at its small Cleveland office. The issue was laid to rest early in 1959 when the United States Court of Appeals upheld an earlier rejection of the charges brought by the IRS.

Just prior to this litigation, Eaton became chairman of the board of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in 1954. He acquired this post when Robert R. Young resigned with the intention of gaining control of the larger New York Central Railroad. With Otis and Company relegated to handling private investments, the C&O became Eaton's primary business interest and his headquarters were relocated from the Cuyahoga Building to the thirty-sixth floor of Cleveland's Terminal Tower. Along with controlling the major coal-hauling railroad in the eastern United States, Eaton also acquired one of the largest bituminous coal producers, West Kentucky Coal Company.

Cyrus Eaton's concern about nuclear weapons developed as he became familiar with the nuclear chain reaction experiments conducted by scientists at the University of Chicago. As a trustee of the university, hew was aware of this work at an early stage and he came to know many of the scientists working on these experiments. It was also through the University of Chicago that he met Bertrand Russell. In 1955, the two men issued a joint appeal to the scientists of the world to gather and assess the growing dangers posed by the nuclear age. He soon announced that his Pugwash, Nova Scotia, estate would be opened to scientists of all nations to challenge them to further the cause of world peace and cooperation through an exchange of views in this relaxing environment.

These Pugwash Conference began in earnest in 1957, inspired by the warnings of Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell that nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union would result in the destruction of all mankind. Meeting in such places as Quebec, Vienna, Moscow, London, India, Ethiopia, and Czechoslovakia, and Thinker's Lodge in Pugwash, these conferences brought together notable scientists from all major nations to discuss the problems confronting the world.

Eaton also hosted a series of meetings at Pugwash for college presidents and deans. These were mainly devoted to the study of great literature and its application to world problems and were held from 1956-1961. In addition, conferences were held on such topics as the Middle East, continuing education, Chinese culture, the civilization of Indiana, and Islamic civilization.

In December 1957, Eaton married for the second time. His bride was the former Anne Kinder Jones, daughter of Cleveland Probate Court Judge Walter Kinder. The Eaton and Kinder families had known each other for years and were sympathetic to many of the same causes. Mrs. Eaton shared her new husband's enthusiasm for international politics and the Pugwash Conferences, and was also interested in domestic politics, serving as a delegate to several Democratic National Conventions in the 1950s and 1960s.

The general public became aware of Eaton's new found enthusiasm for world affairs when he visited Moscow in 1958 and was introduced to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who impressed him as a man of genuinely desiring peace and cooperation. When Eaton returned to the United States he made his views known through speeches, interviews, and letters to national leaders. He quickly became a controversial figure after placing most of the blame for the Cold War on the United States and other western nations and roundly criticizing America's State Department and intelligence-gathering agencies.

Despite the threat of a subpoena from the House Un-American Activities Committee, he continued to call for nuclear disarmament and a complete moratorium on nuclear testing. For these efforts he received the Soviet Union's Lenin Peace Prize in 1960. That same year Eaton and his wife traveled extensively through the East European countries, visiting Moscow again in December. In the United States, he hosted receptions for visiting Soviet and East European dignitaries, including a luncheon for Khrushchev in New York just prior to Khrushchev's famous table-pounding United Nations speech.

Other ventures into global politics included visits to Cuba in 1968, where he met with Fidel Castro and discussed agricultural projects, another visit to Moscow in 1965 to meet Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin, and a visit to Hanoi in 1969. This latter journey was brought on by his intense opposition to the Vietnam War and the strains it produced in American society.

In 1966 Eaton became involved in a lawsuit with the Cleveland Trust Company, a banking firm on whose board of directors Eaton once served. The subject of the litigation was the bank's practice of voting shares of stock it held as trustee to perpetuate its existing management. Eaton, who still owned a sizable portion of Cleveland Trust stock, believed this practice to be illegal and asked the courts to order an end to it. Despite a state law which seemed to rule out a bank voting its own stock, Cleveland Trust stood by its practice. In June 1967 the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court ruled in favor of Eaton, and this decision was upheld the following year by the county Court of Appeals. On appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, however, the justices ruled in March 1970 that Cleveland Trust was within its rights in voting stock held in trust.

Eaton corresponded extensively with United States Senators, Representatives, and Presidents on matters of national concern. When his interests broadened to the international scene, he began correspondence with statesmen and leaders of foreign countries on such topics as trade, American influence in the world, the United Nations, and nuclear disarmament.

Through the late 1960s Eaton gradually divested himself of his industrial holdings and directorships. He retained only the chairmanship of the C&O, which during this time became known as the Chessie System after merging with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. In October 1973, he was voted Chairman Emeritus and removed from active control of the railroad, although he retained his office in Terminal Tower and his membership on the board of directors.

In the 1970s, vindicated in part by the detente in Soviet-American relations, Eaton continued to push for nuclear arms control and international cooperation and understanding. He also maintained his opposition to the Vietnam War and spoke out against President Nixon's "dictatorial" control over the United States government. these concerns occupied his life until May 9, 1979, when he died at home at the age of 95.

In addition to other pursuits, Eaton served as a trustee for the University of Chicago, Denison University in Ohio, and the Harry S. Truman Library. He was a lifetime trustee of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was also the recipient of fourteen honorary degrees from colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for Cyrus S. Eaton

From the guide to the Cyrus S.Eaton Scrapbooks, 1958-1978, (Western Reserve Historical Society)

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Subjects:

  • East--West trade
  • Soviet Union--Foreign relations--United States
  • Eaton, Cyrus Stephen, 1883-1979--Photograph collections
  • Industrialists--Ohio--Cleveland
  • Industrial relations--United States
  • United States. Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Banks and banking--United States
  • Railroads--United States
  • East--West trade (1945- )
  • Banks and banking
  • Industrial relations
  • Eaton, Cyrus Stephen, 1883-1979
  • Eaton family
  • International relations
  • Industry and state--United States
  • Railroads
  • Iron mines and mining
  • United Nations
  • Businessmen--Ohio--Cleveland
  • Nuclear disarmament
  • Industrial policy
  • Iron mines and mining--United States
  • United States--Foreign relations--Soviet Union

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • Soviet Union (as recorded)