Michael V. DiSalle

From Ohio History Central

DiSalle, Michael V..jpg
Portrait of Governor Michael V. DiSalle who served

one, four year term as Governor from 1959-1963.

Michael Vincent DiSalle was Ohio's sixtieth governor.

DiSalle was born on January 6, 1908, in New York, New York. When DiSalle was three years old, his family moved to Toledo, Ohio, where Michael attended both public and religious schools. Desiring to become a lawyer, DiSalle attended Georgetown University, graduating in 1931. He soon thereafter passed the Ohio bar exam and began practicing law in Toledo in 1932.

DiSalle also sought a political career. As a teenager, DiSalle served as president of the Toledo Junior Safety Council. In 1936, he won election to the Ohio House of Representatives as a member of the Democratic Party. In 1938, he received his party's nomination for a seat in the Ohio Senate, but DiSalle lost the election soundly.

Undaunted by his Senate defeat, DiSalle became active in Toledo politics. Over the next twelve years (1938-1950), DiSalle served one term as the city's mayor, two terms as vice-mayor, five terms as city councilman, and three years as Toledo's assistant law director. In these various positions, DiSalle dramatically improved life in Toledo, including helping to eliminate the city's debt. As mayor, DiSalle won election as chairperson of the Advisory Board of the United States Conference of Mayors.

In 1950, DiSalle won election to a second term as Toledo's mayor, but he resigned from office that same year to become the United States' Director of Price Stabilization, a position that he held for two years. In 1952, DiSalle ran for a seat in the United States Senate, but the Republican candidate, John W. Bricker, easily defeated him. DiSalle resumed his law practice in Toledo, but remained active in politics, unsuccessfully running for Ohio's governor's seat in 1956. In 1958, DiSalle again ran for governor. This time he easily defeated the incumbent, C. William O'Neill, by approximately 450,000 votes.

Inaugurated as Ohio's sixtieth governor on January 12, 1959, DiSalle faced tremendous opposition from the predominantly Republican Ohio Legislature. Nevertheless, the governor succeeded in increasing taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, gasoline, and corporations, while lowering sales taxes on other items. He also attempted to dramatically increase state expenditures, including for education, for improvements to the transportation infrastructure, for construction of new mental hospitals and correctional facilities, and for expanding the Ohio Highway Patrol. This angered many Ohioans - especially Republicans. In 1961, the Republican-controlled legislature rejected the governor's spending proposals, prompting DiSalle to veto the entire appropriations bill. Eventually, the legislature passed a smaller appropriations bill, but that bill left out many of the governor's projects.

The first governor to be elected to a four-year term due to a constitutional amendment in 1954, DiSalle originally declared that he would not seek reelection in 1962. He changed his mind, however. In this election, the Republican candidate, James A. Rhodes, soundly defeated DiSalle by approximately 550,000 votes. Upon completion of his term in office, DiSalle resumed his legal career, establishing law offices in both Columbus, Ohio, and in Washington, DC. He also invested money in several newspapers and radio stations. DiSalle died on September 14, 1981.

See Also


  1. The Governors of Ohio. Columbus: The Ohio History Connection, 1954 
  2. Zimmerman, Richard G. Call Me Mike: A Political Biography of Michael V. DiSalle. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2003.