Buchanan-Clark Bible Bill

From Ohio History Central
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During the 1920s, many Ohioans, especially those people who identified themselves with Progressivism, feared that people in the U.S. were not as religious and as moral as they once had been. Many Progressives also vehemently opposed the arrival of new immigrants to the United States. One of the principal reasons for this was because many of the new arrivals practiced Catholicism. Progressives usually favored the protestant branch of Christianity.

To renew the United States’ supposed declining commitment to religion, Progressive reformers hoped to inject Christian teachings into public schools. To this effect, Progressive Ohioans, members of various Christian denominations, and the Ku Klux Klan sought to implement the Buchanan-Clark Bible Bill. This legislation would have required Ohio's public school teachers to read ten verses from the Bible to their students every school day. The bill also would have forced every student in fourth or a higher grade to memorize the Ten Commandments.

The Ohio legislature passed the Buchanan-Clark Bible Bill in 1925. Ohio Governor A. Victor Donahey vetoed the legislation. In 1925, the Republican Party controlled the Ohio legislature. Most Progressive reformers supported the Republican Party. Donahey was a member of the Democratic Party. During his six years (1923-1929) in office, Donahey earned the nickname "Veto Vic" due to his repeated vetoing of legislative actions. The Ohio legislature failed to overturn the governor's veto. Despite the legislature's defeat, the Buchanan-Clark Bible Bill illustrates the large number of Ohioans who sought to introduce religious teachings into public education, a leading goal of Progressives, during the 1920s.

See Also


  1. Hofstadter, Richard. The Age of Reform: From Bryan to F.D.R. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1960.  
  2. Hofstadter, Richard. The Progressive Movement, 1900-1915. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1963.  
  3. McGerr, Michael. A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870-1920. New York, NY: Free Press, 2003.