Johnson, Tom Loftin, 1854-1911

Variant names

Hide Profile

Inventor and manufacturer of street railway devices, mayor of Cleveland and U.S. representative from Ohio.

From the description of Papers of Tom Loftin Johnson, 1901-1908. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71070456

Reform Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio (1901-1909). He was most noted for his progressive administration of Cleveland's municipal government.

From the description of Tom L. Johnson papers, series II, 1901-1909 [microform]. (Rhinelander District Library). WorldCat record id: 48887958

From the description of Papers, Series II, 1901-1909. (Rhinelander District Library). WorldCat record id: 17975194

Reform Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio (1901-1909), and disciple of Henry George. Johnson began his career as an industrialist and traction magnate (he was owner of the Cleveland Electric Railway Co.). He was most noted for his progressive administration of Cleveland's municipal government.

From the description of Papers, 1901-1908. (Rhinelander District Library). WorldCat record id: 17382929

From the description of Tom L. Johnson papers, 1901-1908 [microform]. (Rhinelander District Library). WorldCat record id: 48688980

Tom L. Johnson (1854-1911) was mayor of Cleveland from 1901-1910. He was born on July 18, 1854, at Blue Spring, Kentucky, the son of Albert W. Johnson and Helen Loftin Johnson. Soon after his birth the family moved to Arkansas where his father became a successful cotton planter. After the war the family moved first to Evansville, Indiana, and then to Louisville, Kentucky. At the age of 22 he invented a coin-fare box. With the $30,000 that he earned from the invention and a loan from Biederman du Pont he bought a street-railway line in Indianapolis. He successfully ran the railway until 1879 when he sold it and with the money he had made, came to Cleveland.

In Cleveland, Johnson again invested in street railways and merged several east-side lines into the Cleveland Electric Railway Company. His chief competitor was Marcus A. Hanna who, in turn, merged several west-side lines into the Cleveland City Railway Company. To make sure that he had enough rails for his railways he bought steel mills in Lorain, Ohio, and Johnstown, Pennsylvania. By the mid-nineties when he sold the plants he was among the top seven steel manufacturers in the country.

Johnson's life was profoundly affected by Henry George. In 1883 Johnson read George's Social Problems and Progress and Poverty. No longer content with being a successful businessman Johnson went to New York in 1885 to meet George and offer his services to him. With George's encouragement Johnson went into politics in the hope of spreading the single tax theory. He ran for Congress in Ohio's 21st district in 1888 as a Democrat and was defeated; but in 1890 he was elected and in 1892 was re-elected. After leaving Congress in 1895 Johnson began selling his businesses so that he could devote himself entirely to politics.

In 1901 Johnson was elected mayor of Cleveland, and took office on April 4. His first appointment was Charles P. Salen as director of Public Works on April 24. On the same day Harris R. Cooley, who was the minister of the church that Johnson attended, was appointed director of Charities and Correction. Madison W. Beacom became law director but left the position in November, 1902, when he was elected judge. Newton D. Baker became the law director in his place. Fred Kohler was appointed chief of police on May 1, 1903, after considerable controversy within the department. Edward W. Bemis, who has been a professor at the University of Chicago and was dismissed for his radical views, became superintendent of the Water Works on September 17, 1901.

In 1903 the Nash Code came into existence and provided for the election of boards of directors for the various departments. Most of the men whom Johnson had appointed in 1901 and 1902 were elected in 1903. William J. Springborn was elected to the Board of Public Service (formerly Public Works) and was responsible for lighting, garbage pickup, and street cleaning. Daniel B. Leslie was also on the Board and was primarily responsible for the development of the park system and recreational services. Walter Burr Gongwer had been a republican reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer . He quit that job and became Johnson's personal secretary. A year later he "converted" and became a Democrat.

As mayor, Johnson worked for tax equalization, "home rule," and the extension of needed services to Cleveland's citizens/ Most of Johnson's time, however, was devoted to the street-railway fight. He was opposed by the privately owned railways. The controversy raged between 1903 and 1907 and in April, 1908, it was temporarily settled in Johnson's favor. The city formed a municipal street-railway company, the Municipal Traction Company, but a strike of railway employees, financial problems, and a referendum in October in which the voters rejected the city-owned system led to its failure.

The railway dispute left Johnson ill and bankrupt. He was not re-elected in 1909 after being re-elected in 1903, 1905, and 1907. He left the mayor's office January 1, 1910 and died on April 10, 1911.

Click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for Tom L. Johnson

From the guide to the Tom L. Johnson Papers, 1901-1908, (Western Reserve Historical Society)

Tom L. Johnson (1854-1911) was mayor of Cleveland from 1901-1910. He was born on July 18, 1854, at Blue Spring, Kentucky, the son of Albert W. Johnson and Helen Loftin Johnson. Soon after his birth the family moved to Arkansas where his father became a successful cotton planter. After the war the family moved first to Evansville, Indiana, and then to Louisville, Kentucky. At the age of 22 he invented a coin-fare box. With the $30,000 that he earned from the invention and a loan from Biederman du Pont he bought a street-railway line in Indianapolis. He successfully ran the railway until 1879 when he sold it and with the money he had made, came to Cleveland.

In Cleveland, Johnson again invested in street railways and merged several east-side lines into the Cleveland Electric Railway Company. His chief competitor was Marcus A. Hanna who, in turn, merged several west-side lines into the Cleveland City Railway Company. To make sure that he had enough rails for his railways he bought steel mills in Lorain, Ohio, and Johnstown, Pennsylvania. By the mid-nineties when he sold the plants he was among the top seven steel manufacturers in the country.

Johnson's life was profoundly affected by Henry George. In 1883 Johnson read George's Social Problems and Progress and Poverty. No longer content with being a successful businessman Johnson went to New York in 1885 to meet George and offer his services to him. With George's encouragement Johnson went into politics in the hope of spreading the single tax theory. He ran for Congress in Ohio's 21st district in 1888 as a Democrat and was defeated; but in 1890 he was elected and in 1892 was re-elected. After leaving Congress in 1895 Johnson began selling his businesses so that he could devote himself entirely to politics.

In 1901 Johnson was elected mayor of Cleveland, and took office on April 4. His first appointment was Charles P. Salen as director of Public Works on April 24. On the same day Harris R. Cooley, who was the minister of the church that Johnson attended, was appointed director of Charities and Correction. Madison W. Beacom became law director but left the position in November, 1902, when he was elected judge. Newton D. Baker became the law director in his place. Fred Kohler was appointed chief of police on May 1, 1903, after considerable controversy within the department. Edward W. Bemis, who has been a professor at the University of Chicago and was dismissed for his radical views, became superintendent of the Water Works on September 17, 1901.

In 1903 the Nash Code came into existence and provided for the election of boards of directors for the various departments. Most of the men whom Johnson had appointed in 1901 and 1902 were elected in 1903. William J. Springborn was elected to the Board of Public Service (formerly Public Works) and was responsible for lighting, garbage pickup, and street cleaning. Daniel B. Leslie was also on the Board and was primarily responsible for the development of the park system and recreational services. Walter Burr Gongwer had been a republican reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He quit that job and became Johnson's personal secretary. A year later he "converted" and became a Democrat.

As mayor, Johnson worked for tax equalization, "home rule," and the extension of needed services to Cleveland's citizens/ Most of Johnson's time, however, was devoted to the street-railway fight. He was opposed by the privately owned railways. The controversy raged between 1903 and 1907 and in April, 1908, it was temporarily settled in Johnson's favor. The city formed a municipal street-railway company, the Municipal Traction Company, but a strike of railway employees, financial problems, and a referendum in October in which the voters rejected the city-owned system led to its failure.

The railway dispute left Johnson ill and bankrupt. He was not re-elected in 1909 after being re-elected in 1903, 1905, and 1907. He left the mayor's office January 1, 1910 and died on April 10, 1911.

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for Tom L. Johnson

From the guide to the Tom L. Johnson Papers, Series II, 1901-1909, (Western Reserve Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Johnson, Tom Loftin, 1854-1911. Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority records, 1848-1958. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
creatorOf Johnson, Tom Loftin, 1854-1911. Papers, 1901-1908. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
creatorOf Hodge, Orlando John, 1828-1912. Papers, 1806-1913. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
referencedIn Whitlock, Brand, 1869-1934. Brand Whitlock papers, circa 1890-1934. Library of Congress
referencedIn Breckinridge, Clifton Rodes, 1846-1932. Breckinridge family papers, 1752-1965. Library of Congress
creatorOf Johnson, Tom Loftin, 1854-1911. Papers of Tom Loftin Johnson, 1901-1908. Library of Congress
referencedIn Louis Van Oeyen Collection [graphic]. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
creatorOf Johnson, Tom Loftin, 1854-1911. Tom L. Johnson papers, 1901-1908 [microform]. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
creatorOf Johnson, Tom Loftin, 1854-1911. Papers. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
referencedIn Du Pont, Pierre S. (Pierre Samuel), 1870-1954. Papers concerning The Johnson Company and related firms, 1883-1923. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Henry Villard papers, 1604-1948 (inclusive), 1863-1900 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Records, 1988-1991. Minnesota Historical Society
referencedIn Du Pont, A. B. (Antoine Bidermann), 1865-1919. Antoine Bidermann du Pont : papers, 1900-1960. The Filson Historical Society
creatorOf George, Henry, 1839-1897. Henry George papers, ca. 1840-1950. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Baker, Newton Diehl, 1871-1937. Letters, 1891-1937. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
creatorOf Thomas, Henry T., 1855-1875. Papers 1848-1934. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
creatorOf Cleveland Council of Sociology. Records 1893-1914. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
creatorOf Witt, Peter, 1869-1948. Papers, 1895-1948. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
referencedIn [Winton marque file. 1902]. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
creatorOf Johnson, Tom L. (Tom Loftin), 1854-1911. Papers, Series II, 1901-1909. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
referencedIn Century Company records, 1870-1924 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Smalley, P. J. (Palemon Jared), 1842-1912. P.J. Smalley papers, 1863-1944 (bulk 1887-1912). Minnesota Historical Society Library
referencedIn Yaddo records, 1870-1980 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Lindsey, Ben B. (Ben Barr), 1869-1943. Ben B. Lindsey papers, 1838-1957 (bulk 1890-1943). Library of Congress
creatorOf Tom L. Johnson Papers, Series II, 1901-1909 Western Reserve Historical Society
creatorOf Baker, Newton Diehl, 1871-1937. Newton D. Baker papers, series II, 1896-1917. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
creatorOf Bourne, Henry Eldridge, 1862-1946. Papers, 1896-1919, 1946. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
referencedIn Henry George papers, ca. 1840-1950 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Paul, Hosea. Papers, 1830-1923. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
referencedIn Frank Parsons papers, 1888-1908 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Tom L. Johnson Papers, 1901-1908 Western Reserve Historical Society
referencedIn Louis Van Oeyen Collection, 1902-1921 Ohio Historical Society
creatorOf Johnson, Tom Loftin, 1854-1911. Tom L. Johnson papers, series II, 1901-1909 [microform]. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
referencedIn Breckinridge Family Papers, 1752-1965 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Dollenmayer, Albert, 1862-1949. Albert Dollenmayer and family papers, 1865-1938. Minnesota Historical Society Library
referencedIn Johnson Steel Street Rail Company. Historical sketch, n.d. [photocopy]. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Burton, Theodore E. (Theodore Elijah), 1851-1929. Theodore E. Burton papers, 1869-1958 [microform]. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
creatorOf Brown, Walter L, 1871-1950. Scrapbook, 1905-1940. Western Reserve Historical Society, Research Library
referencedIn Brand Whitlock Papers, circa 1890-1934 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Parsons, Frank, 1854-1908. Frank Parsons papers, 1888-1908 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn P. J. Smalley papers, 1863-1944 (bulk 1887-1912). Minnesota Historical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Baker, Newton Diehl, 1871-1937. person
associatedWith Bourne, Henry Eldridge, 1862-1946. person
correspondedWith Breckinridge family family
associatedWith Brown, Walter L, 1871-1950. person
associatedWith Burnham, Daniel Hudson, 1846-1912. person
associatedWith Burton, Theodore E. (Theodore Elijah), 1851-1929. person
correspondedWith Century Company corporateBody
associatedWith Cleveland Council of Sociology. corporateBody
associatedWith Cleveland Electric Railway Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Cleveland (Ohio). Mayor. corporateBody
associatedWith Cleveland (Ohio). Mayor (1901-1909 : Johnson) corporateBody
associatedWith Cleveland (Ohio). Mayor (1901-1909 : Johnson) corporateBody
correspondedWith Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935 person
associatedWith Dollenmayer, Albert, 1862-1949. person
associatedWith Du Pont, A. B. (Antoine Bidermann), 1865-1919. person
associatedWith Du Pont, Pierre S. (Pierre Samuel), 1870-1954. person
associatedWith George, Henry, 1839-1897. person
associatedWith Gongwer, W. Burr, 1873-1948. person
associatedWith Hodge, Orlando John, 1828-1912. person
associatedWith Johnson Steel Street Rail Company. corporateBody
correspondedWith Lindsey, Ben B. (Ben Barr), 1869-1943. person
associatedWith Louis Van Oeyen person
associatedWith Minnesota. Transportation Study Board. corporateBody
associatedWith Parsons, Frank, 1854-1908. person
associatedWith Paul, Hosea. person
associatedWith Smalley, P. J. (Palemon Jared), 1842-1912. person
associatedWith Thomas, Henry T., 1855-1875. person
associatedWith Thumm, J. Martin. person
correspondedWith Villard, Henry, 1835-1900 person
correspondedWith Whitlock, Brand, 1869-1934. person
associatedWith Witt, Peter, 1869-1948. person
associatedWith Yaddo (Artist's colony) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Ohio--Cleveland
Northwest, Old
Jefferson County (Ohio)
Cleveland (Ohio)
Ohio--Cleveland
Cleveland (Ohio)
Ohio--Cleveland
Cleveland (Ohio)
Ohio--Cleveland
Ohio
Cleveland (Ohio)
Subject
Political campaigns
Political campaigns
Cleveland (Ohio)
Cleveland (Ohio). Mayor
Johnson, Tom Loftin, 1854-1911
Mayor
Progressivism (United States politics)
Railroad terminals
Railroad terminals
Street-railroads
Street-railroads
Taxation
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1854-07-18

Death 1911-04-10

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6jm293t

Ark ID: w6jm293t

SNAC ID: 49046034