Lewelling's Administration.Gov. Lewelling was inaugurated on Jan. 9, 1893. The dogmas of the People's party were reflected in his inaugural address, as the following extracts will show: "If it be true that the poor have no right to the property of the rich, let it also be declared that the rich have no right to the property of the poor. It is the mission of Kansas to protect and advance the moral and material interests of all her citizens. It is her especial duty at the present time to protect the producer from the ravages of combined wealth. National legislation has for twenty years fostered and protected the interests of the few, while it has left the South and West to supply the products with which to feed and clothe the world, and thus to become the servants of wealth. The purchasing power of the dollar has become so great that corn, wheat, beef, pork and cotton have scarcely commanded a price equal to the cost of production. The instincts of patriotism have naturally rebelled against these unwarranted encroachments of the power of money. Sectional hatred has also been kept alive by the old powers, the better to enable them to control the products and make the producer contribute to the millionaire. And thus, while the producer labors in the field, the shop, and the factory, the millionaire usurps his earnings and rides in gilded carriages with liveried servants.
"To check and change these conditions for the good of all, Kansas steps forth to-day. . . . There must be change, and change must be exaltation and progress. . . . Under the peaceful revolution that comes to Kansas to-day, let us hope there may also come a spirit of renewed devotion to the interests of the people, a spirit of sympathy for those who struggle, and an awakening to the greatness and responsibility of citizenship.
"The state is greater than the party, but the citizen is greater than the state, while the family is the priceless jewel of our civilization. The problem of to-day is to make the state subservient to the individual rather than to become his master."
On the 10th, the day following the delivery of this address, the legislature convened in regular session. The senate was composed of 25 Populists and 15 Republicans, and organized without difficulty, Lieut.-Gov. Percy Daniels presiding. The house of representatives was not so fortunate. Certificates of election had been issued by the state board of canvassers to 63 Republicans, 58 Populists, 3 Democrats, and 1 Independent. In one district, owing to irregularities, the board had issued the certificate to the Republican candidate, who refused to accept it because his Democratic opponent had received a majority of the votes cast at the election. In thirteen districts the Populists contested the seats of the Republicans who had received the certificates of election. Before the legislature was convened, members of each party had made their boast that the other party would not be permitted to organize the house.
When the members of the house were assembled, Russell S. Osborn, secretary of state, appeared and made the statement that he could not deliver the roll of members as certified by the state board of canvassers until the house was organized. A motion that the secretary preside temporarily was objected to, and he left the hail, taking the membership roll with him. The Republican members then proceeded to organize the house by electing George L. Douglass speaker. At the same time, and in the same hall, the 58 Populists holding certificates of election and some of those contesting the seats of Republicans organized another house with John M. Dunsmore as speaker. Prentis says: "Both speakers occupied the same desk, and during the first night slept under the same blanket on the floor in the rear of the speaker's desk, each one with a gavel in his hand."
For several days the two contending bodies continued to hold their sessions on different sides of the hail. On the third day of the term Gov. Lewelling officially recognized the Populist, or as it was popularly called, the "Dunsmore" house, and the succeeding day the senate took the same action, the Republican senators formally protesting. After awhile an agreement was reached by which one house held its sessions in the forenoon and the other in the afternoon. Prominent citizens from all parts of the state visited Topeka and exhausted every effort to effect a settlement, but without avail. On the 17th the governor sent his message to each house, where it was read, and the Dunsmore house ordered it printed.
The greater part of the message was devoted to a discussion of the state's finances and the condition of the public institutions. He made a number of recommendations, the most important of which were as follows: 1The enactment of law authorizing a thorough revision of the general laws of the state; 2The creation of an intermediate court of appeals, which should have final jurisdiction upon appeals from the district courts in civil actions where the amount in controversy did not exceed a given sum; 3A careful revision of the election laws; 4That the "gold clause" in mortgages and securities should be absolutely prohibited; 5A constitutional amendment to provide some method of determining controversies growing out of contested seats in both branches of the legislature. The last named recommendation was prompted by the conditions then existing. "The right of a constituency," said he, "to be represented in the legislature by the person receiving a majority of the honest votes cast is sacred, and should not be vitiated by fraud, nor trifled away by a throw of dice or the chance of a lottery."
To understand this allusion it is necessary to explain that, in the election of 1892, there was a tie vote in one of the representative districts, and in deciding the result by lot the Republican candidate was successful.
On the subject of election reform he offered some sound suggestions. "Marvelous reforms," said he, "have been witnessed in the United States in the last few years in the methods of exercising the elective franchise, and all tending, it is confidently believed, toward purer elections. It is a matter of regret that Kansas has fallen far behind in these reform measures, and now stands almost alone among her northern sisters. The method of reform generally adopted is that known as the Australian system, and there is no doubt but some modifications of this system should be adopted in Kansas."
The use of free passes on railroads came in for severe denunciation. On this question he said: "The liberal bestowal of free passes upon certain classes of our citizens is pernicious and corrupting in its tendency and should be prohibited. At the recent general election, and the campaign which preceded it, great scandals arose by reason of the plenitude of railroad passes as a potent factor in securing attendance at certain conventions, and transporting voters."
No change occured in the legislative situation for several weeks, the two houses continuing to hold their daily sessions, each ignoring the acts of the other. Finally the elections committee of the Douglass house summoned L. C. Gunn, a prominent business man of Parsons, to appear and testify as a witness in one of the contests. Mr. Gunn refused to obey the summons and was arrested by a sergeant at arms of the Republican house. He promptly instituted habeas corpus proceedings, and in this way the question of the legality of the Douglass house was brought before the supreme court. On Feb. 14, while the Gunn habeas corpus case was still pending, two deputy sergeants at arms of the Republican house arrested Ben C. Rich, the chief clerk of the Populist house. After a short but sharp struggle, Mr. Rich was released by some of his friends, and in a short time appeared in the Populist house wearing the air of a conqueror. Fearing further trouble, the governor directed the adjutant-general to call out a company of militia. On the night of the 14th the officers of the Populist house took possession of the hall of the house of representatives and barricaded the doors. When the Republican members went to the capitol on the morning of the 15th, they found guards stationed at the several entrances of the state-house. A short consultation was held, when, led by Speaker Douglass, the legislators brushed aside this outer guard and hurried to the hall, only to find the doors closed against them. A heavy sledge hammer, wielded by a brawny Republican, soon effected an entrance, the Populists were ejected, and the Republicans in turn barricaded themselves in the hall.
Gov. Lewelling then called out several companies of militia; arms were supplied from the state arsenal; a squad of artillerists with a Gatling gun was brought from Wichita; and the capital grounds soon wore the aspect of a military encampment. On the other side, Sheriff Wilkerson, who had refused to obey a summons from both Gov. Lewelling and Speaker Dunsmore, declared himself the only legally constituted custodian of the peace in Shawnee county, swore in a large number of deputies, and with this force joined the Republican sergeants at arms in the capitol. For the next forty-eight hours after they forcibly took possession of the hall, the Republican members of the legislature, with Sheriff Wilkerson and his deputies, were practically in a state of siege. Friends on the outside of the building brought them food, which was at first drawn up through the windows in baskets, though later supplies of this nature were permitted to "pass through the lines." The city of Topeka stood on the brink of a smoldering volcano, so to speak, and only the slightest spark was needed to start an eruption. Everything moved under high pressure. The city was filled with visitors from all parts of the state, and "nearly every man carried a gun." Wise counsel and self-restraint carried the day, however, and serious trouble was averted.
On the afternoon of the 16th Gov. Lewelling requested those occupying the hall of representatives to turn it over to him until the next morning, but the request was refused. A committee of citizens urged Mr. Douglass and his followers to make the concession, fearing a contest with the militia, though without success, the Republicans evidently believing in the old saying that "Possession is nine points in law."
The siege was raised on the 17th, when an agreement was reached by which the militia and deputy sheriffs should both be withdrawn; the proceedings against Mr. Rich to be dropped; the Republicans to continue to hold the hall, and the Populists to hold their sessions elsewhere. The south corridor of the capitol was fitted up with desks and seats and the Dunsmore house met there until the 25th, when the decision of the supreme court in the Gunn habeas corpus case was handed down. The opinion, an exhaustive review of the entire case, was written by Chief Justice Horton and was concurred in by Justice Johnston, Justice Allen dissenting.
After reviewing all the facts and evidence in the case, and citing numerous authorities, Justice Horton closed his opinion as follows: "From all that we have said, our conclusion is, and must imperatively be, that the house known as the Douglass house is the legal and constitutional house of representatives of the State of Kansas, and, being such house, it has the power to compel witnesses to appear and testify before it or one of its committees in election contests arising in that body. It has full power to punish for contempt any witness who refuses to appear when personally subpoenaed in an election contest or other proper proceedings pending. It has also the power to protect itself from disorder, disturbance or violence. It has never been destroyed, ousted or dissolved since its organization. It is a body, or house, having authority to commit. The petitioner is remanded."
Justice Horton received letters from Judge Brewer of the United States supreme court, Thomas M. Cooley, J. Sterling Morton, and other eminent lawyers and jurists, complimenting him upon the soundness and comprehensiveness of his decision.
On the 26th, the day following the decision of the court, the Populist house appointed a special committee, consisting of the speaker, R. H. Semple and J. M. Doubleday, to prepare a protest against the decision. This protest, with an address to the people of Kansas, was submitted and adopted on the 27th, which was the last session this house ever held as a separate body. At 10 o'clock a. m. on the 28th, the members assembled, and under the Stars and Stripes marched into the hall of representatives and took their seats, recognizing for the remainder of the session the Douglass organization.
While the disorder was at its height, Gov. Lewelling ordered Col. J. W. F. Hughes, commanding the Third regiment of the state militia, to eject from the hall of representatives Nicholas Kline, the certified member from Jackson county. Hughes refused to obey the order and was subsequently relieved of his command, but not until after one of the most notable trials by court-martial in the military history of the country.
On Jan. 24, the time required by law, each of the two houses and the state senate took a ballot for United States senator. In the senate John W. Ady received 15 votes; Frank Doster, 10; John Martin, 6; J. W. Breidenthal, 6; J. D. McCleverty, B. P. Waggener and S. S. King, 1 each. In the Dunsmore house the vote stood as follows: 19 for J. W. Breidenthal; 14 for Frank Doster; 9 for John Martin; 3 for S. S. King; 11 for M. W. Cobun; 1 for Charles Robinson; 1 for W. C. Jones, and 1 for J. M. Senter, a total of 59 votes. Sixty-six votes were cast in the Douglass house, of which John W. Ady received 62; Ed O'Bryan, 2; Ed Carroll, 1, and B. W. Perkins, 1.
A joint session was held at noon on the following day. When the roll of the senate was called 24 of the Populist senators voted for John Martin and 1 for M. W. Cobun. The 15 Republican senators were present, but did not vote. The roll of the Dunsmore house was then called. John Martin received 62 votes; M. W. Cobun, 3; W. S. Hanna, S. H. Snider, Fred Close and Frank Doster, 1 each. Fifty-six members of the Douglass house were present but did not vote.
According to the journal of the Republican house, the joint session adjourned to noon on the 26th. At the adjourned session Speaker Douglass presided. Mr. Hoch offered a series of resolutions, the preamble of which set forth that 160 members holding legal certificates of election were present in the joint session of the 25th; that 77 of these members were denied the right to vote, and had they been permitted to vote, no one would have received a majority of all the votes cast as required by law. It was therefore
"Resolved, That there has been no election of a United States senator by the Kansas legislature at this session.
"Resolved, That we enter our solemn protest against this revolutionary and illegal transaction, and instruct the president of this joint assembly to appoint a committee, to consist of three members of the house and two members of the senate, to prepare a formal statement and emphatic protest to the senate of the United States, to be signed by the members of this assembly, protesting against the seating of John Martin as senator from this state."
The resolutions were adopted, and Speaker Douglass appointed Representatives Hoch, Cubbison and Hopkins, and Senators Baker and Willcockson on the committee. The protest and memorial presented by the committee and signed by 77 members, stated that in the joint session of the 25th the clerk omitted from the roll call 10 members holding certificates and called the names of 10 persons holding no certificates; that 9 of these pretended members voted for Mr. Martin and one for Mr. Hanna; that Senator Baker asked permission, on behalf of himself, 14 members of the senate and 65 members of the house, to vote for senator, but Lieut.-Gov. Daniels, who presided over the joint assembly, denied them the right to do so; that the lieutenant-governor then announced the whole number of votes cast as being 93, of which John Martin had received 86; M. W. Cobun, 1; Fred Close, 1; W. S. Hanna, 1, and S. H. Snider 1, and declared Mr. Martin duly elected.
After the adoption of this statement and protest, a vote was taken for United States senator, in which John Martin received 26 votes and John W. Ady 77. All this was without avail, however, as the United States senate admitted Mr. Martin to a seat for the unexpired term of Senator Plumb.
The legislature adjourned on March 11. So much of the session had been taken up with the "Legislative War," as this untimely incident has been called, that but little beneficial legislation was enacted. Among the most important laws were the Australian ballot law; the creation of a board of World's Fair managers; a law annulling the "gold clause" in mortgages; and granting to the regents of the state university the authority to erect on the grounds of that institution the "Spooner Library" building. A proposition to amend the constitution so as to give women the right of suffrage was ordered to be submitted to a vote of the people at the general election of 1894.
On Sept. 12, 1893, Gov. Lewelling delivered an address at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, this being one day of "Kansas Week" at the exposition. His address was a good presentation of the growth, wealth and products of the state, and incidentally he referred to the recent political disturbances.
"If the statistician," said he, "seeks a solution of our occasional discontent, and asks why we are constantly making explorations in the domain of political economy, we point with pride to more than 9,000 school houses which nestle upon our prairies. If he asks why we are the vanguard of political and moral reform, we tell him of our district and normal schools, our colleges, our great university, and of the spires which rise from 4,500 churches. These are the institutions which mold the sentiments and shape the destines of an ambitious people."
The industrial depression of 1893 affected Kansas in common with other states, particularly those in the West. Several banks were forced to close their doors and numerous business concerns failed. In every one of the larger cities, and in many of the principal towns, a large number of workingmen were unable to find remunerative employment. The hard times continued into the following year, when many of the unemployed in various parts of the country joined the "Commonweal Army," a movement that was originated by Jacob Coxey of Ohio, and marched to the national capital to urge Congress to take some action that would relieve the situation. (See Commonweal Army.)
An organization of workmen known as the American Railway Union inaugurated a strike on nearly all the leading railroads of the country in the summer of 1894. The strike began in Chicago, but soon extended all over the western states, many of the men employed by the railroad companies in Kansas losing their positions. Added to these misfortunes, the corn crop in Kansas suffered severely from drought, except in the valley of the Arkansas river, though the loss to the state was offset to some extent by the discovery of oil and natural gas (q. v.).
In Feb., 1894, the Farmers' Alliance held a convention in Topeka and adopted resolutions favoring the sub-treasury plan of governmentthat of loaning money direct to the people at two per cent; the free and unlimited coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to 1; a national currency "safe, sound and flexible," to be increased in volume to $50 per capita; postal savings banks; a graduated income tax, and governmental ownership of all means of transportation and communication.
When the Populist state convention met on June 12, these resolutions became the basis of the party's declaration of principles. The convention also declared in favor of national and state boards of arbitration shorter hours of labor without any reduction in wages; the establishment of a state irrigation department; the initiative and referendum and the constitutional amendment extending the right of suffrage to women. Gov. Lewelling was renominated, as were also the auditor, treasurer, attorney-general, superintendent of public instruction, and Congressman at large. The state ticket was then completed by the selection of D. I. Furbeck for lieutenant-governor; J. W. Amis, for secretary of state; and George W. Clark, for associate justice.
The Republican state convention met at Topeka on June 6 and nominated the following candidates: For governor, Edmund N. Morill; lieutenant-governor, James A. Troutman; secretary of state, W. C. Edwards; auditor, George E. Cole; treasurer, Otis L. Atherton; attorney-general, F. B. Davis; superintendent of public instruction. Edwin Stanley; associate justice, William A. Johnston; Congressman at large, Richard W. Blue. The platform declared in favor of the use of both gold and silver as standard money, and for legislation for the promotion of irrigation. The administration of Gov. Lewelling was denounced "for its violation of the laws and contempt of the courts, the corruption and incompetency of its officials, its gross mismanagement of the state institutions, and for the discredit it has brought upon the good name of the state."
On June 12, the same day as the Populist state convention, the Prohibitionists met at Olathe and nominated the following state ticket: For governor, I. O. Pickering; lieutenant-governor, H. F. Douthart; secretary of state, J. N. Howard; auditor, J. P. Perkins; treasurer, James Murray; attorney-general, M. V. B. Bennett; superintendent of public instruction, Mrs. A. Allison; associate justice, J. R. Silver; Congressman at large, Frank Holsinger.
The Democrats held their state convention at Topeka on July 3. David Overmyer was nominated for governor; Sidney J. Cooke, for lieutenant-governor; E. J. Herning, for secretary of state; W. E. Banks, for auditor; Barney Lantry, for treasurer; James McKinstry, for attorney-general; M. H. Wyckoff, for superintendent of public instruction; J. D. McCleverty, for associate justice, and J. G. Lowe, for Congressman at large. The platform indorsed the administration of President Cleveland; denounced the protective tariff as fraud and robbery; declared in favor of both silver and gold as standard money; affirmed the "natural and legal right" of wage-earners to organize for their protection; congratulated the people of Kansas upon the election of John Martin to the United States senate; demanded the resubmission of the prohibitory amendment, and opposed the constitutional amendment for woman suffrage.
At the election on Nov. 6, the Republicans elected all their candidates for state offices, the Congressman at large, and all the district Congressmen except in the Sixth district, where William Baker, the Populist candidate, was elected by a plurality of 194. The vote for governor was as follows: Morrill, 148,697; Lewelling, 118,329; Overmyer, 26,709; Pickering, 5,496. The vote on the suffrage amendment was 95,302 for, and 130,139 against, hence it was defeated by a majority of nearly 35,000.
Following the precedent established by Gov. Anthony in 1879, Gov. Lewelling submitted a "retiring" message to the legislature which assembled in Jan., 1895. In this farewell message there was something in the nature of a wail at the treatment he had received from the people.
"The experience of the retiring executive," said he, "has been not different from what it might have been had he been sent here by some alien power to govern the state as a conquered province. He was elected by a majority of the sovereign people, yet not for a single hour has he had the loyal support of all the citizens as the governor of the state. Proceedings in quo warranto had to be resorted to in order to install appointees to the board of railroad commissioners.
"Every attempt by the executive to disband a company of the national guard, as companies had hitherto been disbanded, and as the supreme court afterwards declared he had the full right to disband them, was met by mutiny, instigated by a published letter of the ex-adjutant-general. In one instance, a probate judge assumed, by injunction, to stay the arm of the supreme executive of the state in the exercise of his power as commander in chief of the militia.
"In another case, at Topeka, an injunction was applied for, but refused, only after full argument, however; while through a local newspaper, the captain of the company to be disbanded mutinously declared his intention of resisting at the point of the bayonet the muster-out order of the commander in chief.
"In taking leave of the office, the executive expresses the hope that his successor may find that the people by whose votes the retiring chief magistrate was elected know how to be citizens as well as partisans, and are patriotic enough to be loyal to any man chosen by the people to be their governor, no matter what his or their political faith may be"Pages 141-149 from volume II 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 July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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