Dayton, Ohio

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Dayton is the county seat of Montgomery County, Ohio. In 1796, Israel Ludlow surveyed and platted the town of Dayton along the Great Miami River near the mouth of the Mad River in what is now southwest Ohio. It was located near the Symmes Purchase. By the end of that same year, more than forty log cabins and frame houses had been built. Many of the original settlers believed that they had legally acquired their land, but disputes arose over landownership due to poor surveying. Many residents ended up paying additional sums of money to become the unchallenged owners of their property, In addition to these problems, Dayton was built on a flood plain and the community was flooded a number of times in its early years.

When Ohio became a state in 1803, Dayton became the seat of Montgomery County. Beyond its initial growth the town remained relatively small until the War of 1812. During this conflict, Dayton served as a mobilization point for American attacks on Canada and against British troops in the northwestern part of the United States. During and shortly after the war, a tobacco factory, two banks, textile mills, and several other businesses were begun. With the completion of the Miami and Erie Canal in 1829, Dayton was linked to Cincinnati and the town continued to thrive. Nine turnpikes connected Dayton to other areas of the state. By the 1840s, Dayton was one of the largest and wealthiest communities in Ohio.

Dayton was heavily involved in Ohio's early industrialization. By the late 1800s, the community had become the center of many types of industry. Several newspapers and other journals supported a growing publishing industry. Many of these publications dealt with either religious issues or agricultural interests. Some examples include Christian World, Young Catholic Messenger, Ohio Bible Teacher, as well as Farmer's Home, the Ohio Swine Journal, and the Ohio Poultry Journal. There were also German newspapers for the area's German settlers. Other industries were related to agriculture. A number of companies manufactured farm implements. Among the best known was the Buckeye Mower and Reaper Company. In the 1880s, John H. Patterson opened the National Cash Register Company in Dayton.

One of the first labor organizations in Ohio, the Mechanics' Association, was founded in 1813. Over the next century a number of labor unions were organized in Dayton.

In the twentieth century, Dayton continued to prosper. The city became known as the home of Wilbur and Orville Wright, the brothers who made the first successful flight in a powered aircraft. The Flood of 1913 caused a significant loss of life and property in Dayton and temporarily halted the city's growth. But the people of Dayton recovered from the disaster and helped create the Miami Conservancy District to limit future flooding. During the Progressive Era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Dayton became a center of political reform. Dayton became the first larger city in the nation to hire a city manager. A city manager was a professional who was hired by the city council. Since the city manager could be fired if he did not do his job, he had an incentive to avoid corruption.

In the 1920s, Dayton shared in the remarkable economic prosperity enjoyed by much of the rest of the country. The positive outlook of the city was tempered by the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan in much of the Midwest. And all of this was overshadowed by the difficulties caused by the Great Depression of the 1930s.  

Dayton benefited greatly from the growth of wartime industries during World War II and received approximately $1.7 billion in government defense contracts during the war. The city's economy has remained strong in the decades following the Second World War, despite a decline in many of its traditional industries.

In recent years, Dayton was most famous as the site of the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995. With the support of the United States, Serb and Bosnian representatives negotiated a peace settlement at Wright Patterson Air Force Base that led to a decline in ethnic violence in Bosnia.

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