Jones, Samuel Milton

Jones, Samuel Milton,

1846–1904, American political reformer, known as "Golden Rule" Jones, b. Wales. He was brought to America as a child and worked in the oil fields of Pennsylvania and Ohio. He invented improvements in oil-drilling machinery, and after the oil trust refused to handle these inventions, Jones manufactured them himself—very successfully—in Toledo, Ohio. He was noted for his advanced program of employee-management relations. Elected (1897) mayor of Toledo on the Republican ticket, he put into operation a comprehensive program of municipal reform. When refused renomination in 1899, he ran as an independent and overwhelmingly defeated both political machines. He was reelected in 1901 and 1903 and died in office. During his administration he established civil service and instituted the eight-hour day and minimum wages for city employees.


See his autobiography, The New Right (1899).

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Jones, Samuel Milton

(1846–1904) inventor, manufacturer, reformer; born in Carnarvonshire, Wales. He was brought to America by his family (1849) and began to work for a living at the age of 10. He went into the oil fields (1865) as a driller, pumper, tool-dresser, and pipe-liner and entered the oil business for himself (1870). He moved to Lima, Ohio (1885), where he pioneered in the development of newly discovered oil fields. In Toledo, Ohio (1892–93), he invented some improvements for oil well appliances and organized the Acme Sucker Rod Company (1894), which earned him a fortune. Concerned about workers' conditions, he established major reforms in his factory including an eight-hour day and vacations with pay. He hung a "Golden Rule" placard in his plant, earning him the nickname "Golden Rule" Jones. He wrote a book proposing a fair social order (1899) and an autobiography, and was elected mayor of Toledo for four successive terms (1897–1904). Business and establishment leaders opposed his reform efforts and the police complained of his lax law enforcement standards, but he made a respectable showing as an independent candidate for governor of Ohio (1899).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.