The Kingdom of Ohio (39 page)

Using a magnifying glass it is possible to read the time and day of month (registered in small rotating numerals) on the face of this instrument: it is the 19th, and the time appears to be just after eight o'clock.
Geoffrey Sonnabend,
Obliscence, Theories of Forgetting and the Problem of Matter
(Paris: Éditions Jurassiques, 1939), p. 46.
To the best of my (limited) understanding, this theory—now widely accepted among theoretical physicists—was first proposed by Hugh Everett in his paper “Relative State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics,”
Reviews of Modern Physics
29 (1957): 454-62.
In fact the “Ohio question” raised issues of nationalism both domestically (in the wake of the Civil War, ended less than a generation earlier) and abroad, which deeply divided the American political landscape at the time.
In Congress the week before this particular meeting, the Republican secretary of war, Elihu Root, had alluded clearly to the question of the Free Estate when he read a statement that began:
Mr. President, self-government and internal development have been the dominant notes of our first century: administration and the development of other lands will be the dominant notes of our second. God has marked the American people as His chosen Nation to finally lead in the regeneration of the world. . . . Pray God the time may never come when mammon and the love of ease will so debase our blood that we will fear to shed it for the flag and its imperial destiny.
The next day, Senator William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic presidential candidate, had concluded his speech at his party's nominating convention to thunderous applause by directly contradicting the secretary of war, proclaiming:
Among all the threats which lie arrayed against the greatness of this nation and her peoples none looms so large as the possibility that in her haste to step upon the world's stage, America may forget the very ideals with which she began. . . . No greater injustice can exist than the subjugation of one people by another in the name of freedom.
The only account of this event seems to be that recorded by the Amish historian Daniel Yoder, who collected various oral histories of the Ohio region. In his volume
An Account of the Ohio Region Told by the Common People of That Area
, he writes:
The son of one land-owner, Jacob Marse, who claimed to have been among the city's defenders, fondly recounts his father's tale: “He got his gun and went with the other men to the city. Louis Toledo came out in front of his house and read the men a poem. Then my father went and hid behind a cart with another man in an alleyway. When the enemy came [my father] started shooting and the man beside him was shot dead. Suddenly there was a loud noise that knocked him down and broke all the windows nearby.
“My father dropped his gun and went out into the street. All the other men had gotten knocked down and no one was shooting anymore. He looked at the Toledo mansion and it had disappeared. There was a cloud of smoke that covered half the sky. For a week after that, the weather was strange and nobody's compass would work. It took [my father] a year to hear right again.”
An Account of the Ohio Region
[Milwaukee: Barlow & Sons, 1908].)

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