Editorial: David McCullough’s message to Ohio


A recent editorial by the Toledo Blade:

America has lost a treasure with the death of historian David McCullough. The two time Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner was a special friend to the state of Ohio.

At the height of his eminence as a best-selling author and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Mr. McCullough wrote about the achievements of great Ohioans. The Wright Brothers and the pioneers, who made Ohio America’s first frontier, brought David McCullough to our state.

In telling the story of Ohio’s pre-statehood days, Mr. McCullough makes it clear that the decisive event to the survival of the Marietta settlement was victory by General Anthony Wayne in the battle of Fallen Timbers. Before there was an Ohio, and still true today, our area is crucial to its success.

External validation conferred by an independent expert is Mr. McCullough’s great gift to Ohio in his final book, The Pioneers. The historian who reminds us that “nothing had to happen the way it happened” celebrates the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 as better than America’s founding documents.

We should all be proud that Ohio created a blueprint for governance of what ultimately came to include Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, that improved upon the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

Thanks to Ohio’s settlers, at a time all 13 original states allowed slavery, it was not permitted here. At a time there was no commitment to public education anywhere in America; it was a cornerstone of Ohio’s foundation.

The principal author of these documents, Manasseh Cutler, is so little known that he was a discovery to Mr. McCullough in research for a commencement speech at Ohio University, founded by Mr. Cutler.

Mr. McCullough’s conclusion to that 2004 speech is worth repeating:

“When bad news is riding high and despair is in fashion, when loudmouths and corruption seem to own center stage, when some keep crying that the country is going to the dogs, remember it has always been going to the dogs in the eyes of some and that 90 percent or more of the people are good people.

“They are generous hearted, law abiding, good citizens who get to work on time, do a good job, love their country, pay their taxes, care about their neighbors (and) their children’s education, and believe rightly in the ideals upon which our way of life is founded.”

— Toledo Blade, August 12, 2022