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Portrait of Samuel M. JonesSamuel M. Jones 






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Timothy Messer-Kruse

Samuel Milton "Golden Rule" Jones was nominated for mayor of Toledo at a tumultuous Republican convention on February 25, 1897. That day would usher in a nearly two decade period of reform government in the city and would propel Mayor Jones to national, and even international fame. Jones was an oilman who immigrated with the westward progression of oil strikes from Pennsylvania to Ohio. In 1894 he founded a factory to manufacture drilling equipment in Toledo and soon earned a reputation for his honest business dealings and his humanitarian policies. After announcing that only one rule was needed in his plant and then nailing a plaque bearing Jesus's Golden Rule to the wall, he earned a nickname and a place as a leader of Progressive reform.

Portrait of Samuel M. JonesPortrait of Samuel M. Jones








As mayor Jones aligned himself with the progressive forces of Toledo who had long championed greater municipal regulation of the economy. With their help Jones succeeded in securing the city's first civil service system, fostered the growth of the city's park system, cracked down on police brutality, and expanded relief programs for the indigent and poor. Unlike other progressives, Jones did not believe in using the city's police power to enforce morality. He refused to prosecute prostitutes or shut down beer halls. Whenever he could, Jones presided over the city's police court and dismissed most of the cases brought before him out of sympathy for the poor. The poor, Jones said, "have no money, they have no council and for petty offenses that are not offenses at all when committed by the rich, they are fined, imprisoned, disgraced and degraded."

A strong advocate of municipal ownership of public utilities, Jones attempted but failed to win passage of an ordinance creating a city-owned power plant. In his third term, Jones squared off against powerful streetcar companies and attempted to set a maximum streetcar fare.

Jones died suddenly in 1904 at the age of 57. His legacy carried on under the administration of Brand Whitlock and in his writings, some of which are reproduced below.

-Timothy Messer-Kruse

[NOTE: The publications reproduced below vary in visual quality. A few, because they were reproduced from microfilm, are of poor quality when viewed on a screen. Nearly all of them look better when printed on paper. A few of the documents below have been scanned into a text [PDF] format.

Writings About Jones

The Jones Campaign of 1897

The Writings of Jones