Ohio Steel Strike of 1937
Full Text of Press Release from the Governor's Office
Sunday Morning Papers
June 30, 1937
Hon. James Seccombe, Mayor,
Dear Mayor Seccombe,
This morning's papers carry the story that in your city late yesterday "seven marchers were seized by strikers and taken to union headquarters where they were questioned and beaten before Canton police and deputy sheriffs arrived to stop the fight and rescue the seven captured men, one of whom required hospital treatment."
This would appear to be a clear violation of the state laws pertaining to kidnapping as interpreted by the courts. It is your duty to arrest the offending parties and have them prosecuted. Any failure on your part to take appropriate action would make you guilty of non-feasance in office. Your failure yesterday to protect some of your own citizens from these acts of violence casts a serious reflection on your law enforcement program.
You cannot help the cause of labor by condoning violence, mob rule and other lawlessness. It merely increases the antagonism of the general public. I am sure that the responsible labor leaders would not approve of such actions, nor can they afford to do so.
We will go the limit in the protection of labor in its right to organize and bargain collectively, in its right to strike under legal and proper conditions, in its right to peaceful picketing and persuasion, and in its right to free speech and free assemblage.
In order that there may be no misunderstanding of our position, let me say that we do not propose to have physical violence, or other forms of extreme lawlessness, or mob rule in Ohio. All of us have certain well-defined duties under our oath of office. There are times when you have to forget that you are a candidate for reelection, to maintain respect for law and protect the interests of the general public.
Frankly, I was disapponited that the steel companies did not accept the exceedingly fair and liberal peace proposal which I submitted during the recent strike conferences. They assume reponsibility for that decision. I think also that everyone should be willing to maintain the status quo during the deliberations of the Special Federal Mediation Board, in order to give that body a fair chance to accomplish something for the general good. However, these things do not relieve the sheriffs and other local police authorities of their clear duty to maintain law and order. Nor, as a last resort, does it relieve the state government of responsibility to preserve respect for law and orderly procedure, if the local police authorities are not stout-hearted enough to do their duty which they have sworn to do.
If local government surrenders to mob rule, then the foundations of this republic are in danger. I believe that human rights are paramount, and that these human rights must be acheived through lawful procedure and democratic channels, unless we are willing to destroy the form of government with which we are familiar and set up some form of autocracy.