Humphrey's Administration.Gov. Humphrey was inaugurated on Jan. 14, 1889. The regular session of the legislature had been convened on the 8th and organized with Lieut.-Gov. A. P. Riddle as the presiding officer of the senate, and Henry Booth as speaker of the house. Six days later, when the new administration was installed, Mr. Riddle was succeeded by the new lieutenant-governor, Andrew J. Felt. In his inaugural address Gov. Humphrey said:
"Kansas, in her career thus far, covers what has been aptly characterized a focal period in history, toward which the lines of progress have converged, and beautifully exemplifies, in her present conditions, the philosophy of De Tocqueville that the growth of states hears some marks of their origin; that the circumstances of their birth and rise affect the whole term of their being. In Kansas this may be observed in the liberal spirit of her laws and in the genius of her institutions. . . . For Kansas was but the first born child of Republican supremacy on American soil the triumph of an idea; the idea of the Pilgrim as against that of the Cavalier; the idea of the founders of Lawrence over the idea of the settlers of Lecompton . . . . And the idea which thus triumphed in a free Kansas, and the influences going out from our early settlement, are a living, energizing force in all our moral, social and material progress."
Two days after the delivery of this address, he submitted to the general assembly his first official message, in which he referred to the fact that, for the first time in the history of the state, the legislature met six days before the new executive was inaugurated. (See Martin's Administration.)
"This unanticipated state of affairs," said he, "is suggestive of the need of constitutional revision, and prompts the inquiry, whether it would not be well to provide by law that the outgoing governor shall, in all cases, prepare and leave with his successor, to be delivered to the legislature, a message reviewing the condition of state affairs since the last preceding session of that body, with such suggestions and recommendations as he may deem expedient. His experience necessarily gives him a familiarity with the various interests of the commonwealth, and accurate knowledge of the condition and business requirements of its institutions and thoroughness of information in all matters of public concern. This information should be communicated to the legislature as early as possible after its organization, and it would seem appropriate to devolve that duty upon the retiring governor."
He then mentioned the fact that Gov. Anthony had left such a message, and expressed his belief that the precedent thus established should have the sanction of law. Gov. Glick, at the time of his inauguration, made a similar suggestion.
Gov. Humphrey next reviewed the promises in the platform upon which he had been elected, to-wit: 1stThe enactment of legislation friendly to the interest of the wage-workers, especially laws to prevent unfair competition; 2dAn amendment to the law relating to apprentices so as to protect skilled labor; 3dTo provide for the weekly payment of wages; 4thTo reduce the legal rate of interest to six per cent. per annum, and the maximum contract rate to ten per cent.; 5thThe passage of a law to regulate trusts; 6thThe fulfillment of the assurance that the state would provide liberally for the soldiers' orphans' home; 7thThe promise that the railroad commissioners should protect farmers against excessive charges in the removal of crops; 8thThe protection of the home against the saloon, in which he reminded the legislature that the state was fully committed to the policy of prohibition; 9thWith regard to woman's rights, which subject "is entitled to your serious consideration."
The legislature of 1887 had submitted to the people an amendment to section 17 of the Bill of Rights of the state constitution. This section as originally adopted was as follows: "No distinction shall ever be made between citizens and aliens in reference to the purchase, enjoyment or decent of property." The object of the amendment was to make possible the enactment of a law prohibiting aliens from owning land in the state. It was ratified by the people at the general election in 1888, and the governor admonished the legislature that it was now their duty to place such a law on the statute books as would give the new provision full force and effect. He also recommended the amendment of the law relating to the assessment of property, imposing a penalty upon the assessor who failed to perform his duty; a revision of the law governing corporations so each business corporation would have to pay into the state treasury a stipulated per cent. of its capital stock as an incorporation fee; the placing of all public officials on a salary basis and doing away with the fee system; the continuance of the supreme court commissioners, and that the law imposing the death penalty for murder in the first degree should be either abolished or amended in such a way as to make it effective.
Like some of his predecessors, he pointed out the necessity for a radical revision of the constitution. Said he: "It detracts nothing from the acknowledged wisdom of the framers of our constitution to say that it is now very defective. Our marvelous development and changed conditions, impossible of anticipation when it was devised, call now for revision. . . . At the time of admission the population of the state did not exceed 120,000. . . The Kansas of today has reached the vast proportions of an empire, requiring a readjustment of her organic law to suit the present needs."
Especially did he call attention to the inequalities in representation in the legislature through the constitutional provisions for apportionment, some districts with a population of less than 2,000 having a representative, while in others there were only one representative for a population of 12,000 or more. Then, too, the time of making the apportionment was such that every few years a special session would he necessary to carry out the provisions of the constitution. He pointed out several other weaknesses in the constitution, and discussed the advisability of a constitutional convention. "I am sure," said he, "that such a convention would afford the most satisfactory means of curing the many infirmities that have crept into the constitution by the lapse of time. I am further persuaded, however, that a call for a convention can never receive the endorsement of a majority of the people of Kansas, unless some assurance could be given that neither of several important features of the present constitution should in any wise be altered, impaired or put in peril, of which I may mention the prohibitory amendment and the homestead exemption . . . . As no restrictions respecting these features could be imposed upon a convention that would necessarily bind that body when once called into existence, it is doubtful if such a call would meet with popular favor; and the surest, cheapest and speediest mode of relief would seem therefore to be through carefully prepared amendments." (See Constitutional Amendments.)
The governor announced the appointment of delegates to represent the state at the centennial of Washington's inauguration, to be celebrated in New York City, and recommended an appropriation to defray the expenses of such delegates. He also recommended appropriations to pay the expenses of the Kansas delegates to the Farmers' Congress, which in 1889 met in Alabama, and for the support of the state militia.
On Jan. 22 each house of the legislature took a vote for United States senator, in the senate Preston B. Plumb received 35 votesall that were castand in the house 118 votes. The next day the two branches met in joint session, when Mr. Plumb received 153 votes and was declared elected for the full term of six years, beginning on March 4, 1889.
During the session there were passed a large number of acts legalizing the actions of individuals or municipalities. Among the appropriations made was one of $36,000 for a Grand Army building at Ellsworth; one of $18,658.30 for bounties on sugar manufactured in the state during the years 1887-88; one of $9,700 for the encouragement of silk culture; one of $9,733.54 for the benefit of the Kansas National Guard; one of $14,367.67 for the payment of interest on the Quantrill raid scrip, and one of $5,000 for a commissioner to the Paris exposition. Six new judicial districts were created; the consent of the state was given for the purchase of the Haskell Institute by the United States jurisdiction over the Fort Riley military reservation was ceded to the Federal government; a law was passed for the prevention of cruelty to animals; the supreme court commissioners were continued; the office of oil inspector was created; the sale of tobacco to minors was prohibited; additional power was given to the railroad commissioners the name of Davis county was changed to Geary; provision was made for the erection of a building and the equipping of a girls' industrial school at Beloit; the establishment of a state soldiers' home on either the military reservation of Fort Hays or Fort Dodge was authorized, provided Congress would donate the land for that purpose; an act to encourage the growth of timber was passed, and also one for the regulation of trusts.
On April 4, 1889, Thomas Ryan, the Congressman from the Fourth district, resigned to become minister to Mexico, and a special election was ordered for May 21 to choose his successor. The Republicans nominated Harrison Kelley, and the Democrats nominated John Heaston. Several others were voted for, the result being as follows: Kelley, 10,506 votes; Heaston, 1,530; David Overmyer, 77; John A. Martin, 54: John Martin, 28; scattering, 121.
At the municipal elections in the spring of 1889 the cities of Argonia, Cottonwood Falls, Rossville, Oskaloosa and Baldwin elected women to the office of mayor.
Kansas participated in several conventions of national importance in the year 1889, and in some instances was the originator of the movement that culminated in the convention. Prior to the legislative session of that year, the governor had been in communication with the chief executives of other states, with regard to the advisability of holding a convention to protest against, and formulate some plan of opposing, the avaricious policy of the "beef and pork combine." In the Kansas legislature a resolution was adopted appropriating $2,500 to pay the expenses of delegates to such a convention, and aid in defraying the general expenses of the meeting. By this resolution the governor of Kansas was authorized to designate March 12 as the time, and St. Louis, Mo., as the place of holding the convention, provided such an arrangement was satisfactory to the governors of other states that had signified a willingness to take part in the movement. The convention met in accordance with the spirit of this resolution, and after several daily sessions drafted a bill providing for state inspection as the best means of accomplishing the desired result. It was ascertained later, however, that such a law would violate the interstate commerce provisions of the Federal constitution, and the work of the convention was therefore in vain.
In August Gov. Humphrey issued a call for a convention, which met at Topeka on Oct. 1, 1889, having for its object to lend assistance to the project of securing deep water harbors on the gulf coast of Texas. Twenty-one states were represented in this convention, the work of which was successful, in that it was followed by Congressional legislation in aid of the work.
On Nov. 27, 1889, a national silver convention was held in the city of St. Louis, Mo. Gov. Humphrey appointed delegates to represent the State of Kansas, and in his message of 1891 said: "A very interesting account of the proceedings is embodied in the report of Hon. H. B. Kelly, one of the delegates, on file in this office. It is believed that the action of the convention did much to create the sentiment resulting since in Congressional legislation, providing for increased silver coinage, to be followed, it is hoped, by still more liberal legislation on the subject."
The Farmers' Alliance (q. v.) and kindred organizations came into prominence in 1889-90. The corn crop of 1889 was unusually largeover 270,000,000 bushelsand at the beginning of the year 1890 the price of corn was so low that many of the Kansas farmers refused to sell. On Feb. 8, 1890, Gov. Humphrey held a conference with the representatives of a number of railroad companies, and succeeded in obtaining a reduction of ten per cent. in freight rates. This had the effect of bringing a large quantity of corn into the market, but it also encouraged the agitation in favor of a general reduction in freight rates. In April the Alliance sent to the board of railroad commissioners a petition bearing 20,000 signatures, asking for a reduction in freight rates from all points in Kansas to the Missouri river. The commissioners responded with a new schedule, to take effect on Sept. 1, 1890, reducing the rates on grain over thirty per cent.
Throughout the year 1889 quite a number of persons kept up a persistent agitation in favor of the resubmission of the prohibitory amendment. A convention was held at Wichita in Jan., 1890, which resulted in the organization of the "Republican Resubmission League." Resolutions adopted by the convention declared the prohibitory law a failure and invited the people to work for the resubmission of the whole question to the voters of the state. The movement received some impetus from the celebrated "original package" case, which was decided by the United States supreme court in April, 1890, the decision being followed by the opening of a number of "original package" shops for the sale of liquor. (See Prohibition.)
McCray, in a review of Gov. Humphrey's administration, published in the Kansas Historical Collections (vol. ix, p. 424), says: "Although the state government inaugurated in Jan., 1889, had run smoothly, and the actual practical business of the state was never more efficiently or satisfactorily managed, the campaign of 1890 was perhaps the most angry and stormy in the history of Kansas politics."
Much of this storminess was due to appearance of a new element in the political arena. The Farmers' Alliance, encouraged by the victory won in the reduction of freight rates, decided to invite other organizations to join in independent political action as a remedy for all the ills which afflicted the body politic. Accordingly, on June 12, 1890, delegates representing the Alliance, the Patrons of Husbandry, the Industrial Union, the Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association, the Knights of Labor, and a number of Single Tax clubs, met in Topeka and launched the People'sor Populistparty. A second convention was held at Topeka on Aug. 13, when the following state ticket was nominated: For governor, John F. Willits; lieutenant-governor, A. C. Shinn; secretary of state, R. S. Osborn; auditor, E. F. Foster; treasurer, W. H. Biddle; attorney-general, J. N. Ives; superintendent of public instruction, Miss Fannie McCormick; chief justice, W. F. Rightmire. The platform demanded the abolition of national banks; free and unlimited coinage of silver; government ownership of railroads and telegraphs; legislation to prevent dealing in options or futures, and the prohibition of alien land ownership.
A month before the nomination of the Populist ticket, July 3, the Prohibitionists held a state convention at McPherson and nominated A. M. Richardson for governor; E. Leonardson, for lieutenant-governor; Charles Fairfield, for secretary of state; H. T. Potter, for auditor; J. A. Myers, for treasurer; S. S. Weatherby, for superintendent of public instruction. No candidates were named for attorney-general and chief justice of the supreme court.
On Sept. 3 the Republican state convention met in Topeka. Gov. Humphrey was renominated, as were all the state officers except the auditor and treasurer. Charles M. Hovey was nominated for auditor, and S. G. Stover, for treasurer. The Republican platform declared in favor of the election of the railroad commissioners by the people; a uniform system of text-books in the public schools of the state; the establishment of a state board of arbitration; a revision of the laws relating to the assessment of property for taxation; weekly payment of wages; the prohibition of child labor in mines and factories; but it was silent on the subject of resubmitting the prohibitory amendment.
The Democratic state convention was held in Wichita on Sept. 9. Ex-Gov. Charles Robinson was nominated for governor; D. A. Banta, for lieutenant-governor; S. G. Isett, for secretary of state; Joseph Dillon, for auditor; Thomas Kirby, for treasurer; M. H. Wood, for superintendent of public instruction; M. B. Nicholson, for chief justice, and for attorney-general indorsed J. N. Ives, the Populist candidate. The most important features of the platform were the expression in favor of the regulation of railroads by the state; the declaration in opposition to all sumptuary legislation; the demand for the resubmission of the prohibitory amendment, and, in case of its rejection, the enactment of laws providing for high license and local option.
James W. Hamilton, the treasurer of state, had resigned and Gov. Humphrey had appointed William Sims to the vacancy. At the election on Nov. 4, the candidates for state treasurer on the several tickets were voted for to finish the unexpired term, as well as for a full term of two years. The vote for governor was as follows: Humphrey, 115,025; Willets, 106,972; Robinson, 71,357; Richardson, 1,230. The unusually light vote received by Mr. Richardson was due largely to the fact that many conscientious Prohibitionists deemed the nomination of a state ticket ill-advised, as Gov. Humphrey had consistently enforced the prohibitory law, and by doing so had incurred the displeasure of the socalled "liberal element" in the larger cities. This class of persons repudiated the action of the McPherson convention and supported Gov. Humphrey.
During the first term of Gov. Humphrey he was frequently called upon to exercise the appointing power. Besides the treasurer of state, already mentioned, the creation of six new judicial districts, and the establishment of new courts in several cities of the state, made it necessary for him to appoint a number of judges. The legislature of 1887 had passed an act placing the police affairs of all cities of the first class in the hands of a board of commissioners, appointed by the governor and subject to removal by him at will. Gov. Humphrey, as a member of the state senate, had supported the measure, not thinking, perhaps, that within two years he would be called on to make the appointments. When he came into the office of governor he found that Gov. Martin had appointed commissioners only in the cities of Wichita and Leavenworth, and announced his intention of making appointments in all cities subject to the provisions of the act, on the ground that "if good for one, it should be good for all." Accordingly, he selected police commissioners for the cities of Atchison, Fort Scott, Kansas City and Topeka. There was some dissatisfaction, not so much over the men appointed by the governor as against the law, which took the control of local affairs out of the hands of the citizens. Gov. Humphrey also appointed a board of railroad commissioners, an insurance commissioner, and the heads of various departments. In the game of politics, officials vested with the power to make appointments frequently become unpopular through the petty jealousies aroused in the defeated applicants for positions. Gov. Humphrey escaped this fate by the great care with which he selected his appointees, making no attempt to build up an organization to further his personal ambitions. Some of the judges he appointed were afterward elected to the office and held their judicial positions for several years.
Gov. Humphrey was inaugurated for the second time on Jan. 12, 1891. The next day the eighth regular biennial session of the legislature was convened, with Lieut.-Gov. Riddle again presiding over the senate and P. P. Elder as speaker of the house. Much of the governor's message to this legislature was devoted to the subjects of the state's financial condition and municipal indebtedness. (See Finances, State.)
"Kansas," said he, "has rounded out the third decennial period, and her growth in the last decade is certainly gratifying, as shown by the following vital statistics from the reports of the state board of agriculture.
For convenience of comparison and conciseness of statement the statistics referred to by the governor are arranged in the form of a table, given on the next page.
|Acres of field crops||8,868,884||12,844,92!|
|Value of field crops||$63,111,634||$79,268,081|
|Value of all farm products||$80,500,244||$129,144,909|
|Value of all live stock||$61,563,956||$113,533,342|
|Assessed value of property||$160,570,761||$347,717,218|
|Capital invested in mfrs||$11,192,315||$45,000,000|
|Number of school districts||6,134||9,022|
|Number of children of school age||340,647||509,614|
|Value of school property||$4,633,044||$10,617,I49|
|Number of church edifices||964||2,339|
|Value of church property||$2,430,385||$8,801,870|
|Miles of railroad||3,400||8,86h|
The growth of cities had been especially marked during the decade. The five years from 1880 to 1885 were marked by general prosperity in all lines of industry. Large additions were made to the population; new farms were opened in all parts of the state; cities issued bonds in liberal amounts for the construction of public improvements, waterworks, electric lighting plants, new school buildings, etc.; railroad lines were constructed to hitherto unsettled districts; speculation ran rife, and it seemed almost as though the magic power of some Aladdin's lamp was being exerted for the development of Kansas. Then came the reaction. The years 1885-86 fell far below the acreage in production, and in 1887 there was a severe drought. Many farmers having mortgages upon their homes were unable to meet payments when they fell due, and a large number of people left the state. The year 1888 was more fruitful, and as previously mentioned, the corn crop of 1889 was unusually large. During these two years the people regained fresh courage, as well as some of the losses sustained, debts incurred speculation were liquidated, and everything wore a more encouraging aspect. There was still much suffering, however, among the settlers on the frontier, and Gov. Humphrey said in his message "Practical legislation, designed to encourage these people in western Kansas, should have early and favorable attention. In this connection your consideration is invited to the report of a convention held in Oberlin, Decatur county, in December last, to consider the subject of irrigation, and to ask state and national legislation in aid of the movement." (See Irrigation.)
On Jan. 27 the two houses cast a ballot for United States senator, and the following day met in joint session to decide the result. On the joint ballot William A. Peffer received 101 votes; John J. Ingalls, 58; Charles W. Blair, 3; H. B. Kelley, 1, and E. N. Morrill, 1. Mr. Peffer, having received a majority of all the votes cast, was declared elected for the term of six years, beginning on March 4, 1891.
Pursuant to a recommendation of the governor, an act was passed at this session declaring the first Monday in September to be a legal holiday, known as "Labor Day." The state was redistricted for legislative purposes into 40 senatorial and 125 representative districts; an act for the regulation of alien land ownership was passed; the office of bank commissioner was created; jurisdiction was ceded to the United States for a site for a Federal building in the city of Atchison; a board of public works was created; the sum of $60,000 was appropriated for the completion of the state-house: a similar sum for the benefit of those who had lost their crops by the drought, and $3,500 for an experiment station at the state university to propagate the infection for the destruction of chinch bugsa discovery of Chancellor Snow in 1888. A law regulating banks was also passed at this session, and a proposition to hold a constitutional convention was submitted to the people at the general election in 1892.
Gov. Humphrey was again called upon to make several important appointments during his second term. Among these were supreme court commissioners; the bank commissioner, which went to Charles F. Johnson of Jefferson county; commissioners for the World's Columbian exposition at Chicago in 1893, and a number of district court judges. The death of Preston B. Plumb on Dec. 20, 1891, left Kansas with but one United States senator, and the vacancy was filled by the appointment of Bishop W. Perkins on Jan. 1, 1892.
The Populists were the first to hold a convention for the nomination of state candidates in 1892. Their convention met at Wichita on June 16 and nominated Lorenzo D. Lewelling for governor; Percy Daniels, for lieutenant-governor; Russell S. Osborn, for secretary of state; Van B. Prather, for auditor; W. H. Biddle, for treasurer; J. T. Little, for attorney-general; Henry N. Gaines, for superintendent of public instruction; S. H. Allen, for associate justice.
On June 30 the Republican state convention met in Topeka. Abram W. Smith was nominated for governor; Robert F. Moore, for lieutenant-governor; William C. Edwards, for secretary of state; Blanche K. Bruce, for auditor; John B. Lynch, for treasurer; Theodore F. Garver, for attorney-general; James C. Davis, for superintendent of public instruction; D. M. Valentine, for associate justice.
A week later, July 6, the Democratic party held a state convention in Topeka, and after a stormy session indorsed the Populist ticket. On July 13 the Prohibitionists held their state convention and nominated the following candidates: For governor, I. O. Pickering; lieutenant-governor. H. F. Douthart; secretary of state, H. W. Stone; auditor, C. W. Howlett; treasurer, Joel Miller; attorney-general, Robert L. Davidson; superintendent of public instruction, Alice M. Henderson; associate justice, C. P. Stevens.
The United States census of 1910 showed a sufficient increase in the population of Kansas to entitle the state to eight Congressmen, but as new districts could not be created in time for the election of 1892, the different parties nominated candidates for representatives in each of the old districts, and each state convention nominated a candidate for Congressman-at-Large. For this office the Populists named W. A. Harris; the Republicans, George T. Anthony, and the Prohibitionists, J. M. Monroe.
At the election on Nov. 8 the Populists carried the state by pluralities ranging from 5,000 to 6,000 votes. The highest vote for presidential elector on each of the three tickets was as follows: W. N. Allen, Populist, 163,111; E. G. Dewey, Republican, 157,241; Charles Fairfield, Prohibitionist, 4,553. The electoral vote of the state was cast for Gen. James B. Weaver, the People's party candidate. The vote for governor was as follows: Lewelling, 163,507; Smith, 158,075; Pickering, 4,178. The proposition for holding a constitutional convention was defeated by 466 votes.
Gov. Humphrey retired from the office upon the inauguration of Gov. Lewelling in Jan., 1893. Concerning his administration McCray, in the review above mentioned, says: "Be it said to his credit that he did not run his administration with a brass band and fireworks. He did not consider that the people elected governors for grand stand purposes, but honestly, faithfully and modestly to conduct the business of the state. Gov. Humphrey's ambition was to make a record that should be meritorious rather than notorious, useful rather than spectacular; that should be remembered as a quiet and faithful endeavor to perform each day's duties aright, rather than a noisy display of the brief authority vested in the chief executive."Pages 881-890 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
TITLE PAGE / LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I
TITLE PAGE / LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
J | K | L | Mc | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Background and KSGenWeb logo were designed and are copyrighted by
Tom & Carolyn Ward
for the limited use of the KSGenWeb Project.
Permission is granted for use only on an official KSGenWeb page.
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project