Martin's Administration.Gov. John A. Martin was inaugurated on Jan. 12, 1885, and the next day the legislature met in regular session with Lieut.-Gov. A. P. Biddle presiding in the senate, and J. B. Johnson occupying the speaker's chair in the house. Through his long and intimate connection with editorial work and political matters generally, the new governor was thoroughly familiar with conditions in the state, and this familiarity was shown in his inaugural message. At the time he was inducted into office Kansas was just entering upon her twenty-fifth year of statehood, and the governor's review of a quarter of a century's progress is both interesting and instructive, covering as it does all phases of developmenteducational, political and industrial. Presented in tabulated form his comparisons are as follows:
|Number of acres cultivated||406,468||9,458,737|
|Bushels of wheat raised||194,173||48,050,431|
|Bushels of corn raised||6,150,727||190,870,686|
|Assessed value of property||$27,774,333||$237,020,391|
|Number of school districts||217||(nearly) 7,000|
|Number of teachers||319||8,342|
|Value of school property||$10,432||$5,715,582|
|Number of votes cast||14,471||265,684|
|Miles of railroad||none||4,486|
|Assessed value of railroads||nothing||$28,455,907|
"The marvelous growth and prosperity these figures reveal," said he, "are not only gratifying to the pride of every citizen of the state, and honorable to the men and women whose industry, energy and intelligence have wrought this miracle of development, but they should admonish you, gentlemen of the legislature, of the larger and graver duties and responsibilities devolved upon you by the greatness of the state you represent."
To illustrate still further the development of Kansas during this quarter of a century it is worth while to note that in 1860 she had not a single public building, nor an institution of an educational, penal or charitable nature permanently established, in 1885 the various institutions occupied 2,186 acres of land, and the public buildings of the state were valued as follows: State capitol, $1,600,000; penitentiary, $1,391,090; insane hospital at Topeka, $596,000; insane hospital at Osawatomie, $357,000; state university, $351,300; agricultural college, $213,728; industrial reformatory, $160,000; deaf and dumb asylum, $105,000; state reform school, $86,000; blind asylum, $75,000; state normal school, $68,400; soldiers' orphans' home, $49,000; home for feeble-minded youth, $27,500, making the total amount invested in permanent institutions $5,080,018.
In his message Gov. Martin stated the bonded debt of the state on Jan. 1, 1885, as being $935,5OO, all of which was held by the various state funds, except $321,000, which was in the hands of individuals or corporations. He congratulated the people of the state upon the fact "That the credit of Kansas has always ranked high, and the outstanding bonds of the state command a large premium."
Although the state debt was small, that of the counties, cities and townships had reached a figure that was alarming. According to the message the outstanding bonds and warrants of these municipalities were as follows: Counties, $8,065,748.29; townships, $2,650,030.90; Cities, $2,487,436.17; school districts, $2,748,714.50, making a grand total of $15,951,929.86. "In one Kansas county," says the governor, "the municipal indebtedness aggregates more than one-fifth of the assessed value of all the property in the county, and is nearly double the bonded debt of the state. In another county the aggregate of municipal debts exceeds the state debt over $10,000."
Discussing this subject further he said: "The limitations and restrictions put upon the powers of counties, townships, cities and school districts, to create debts and levy taxes, are too few and feeble. The disease which affects the body politic is too much local government. The state is more fortunate than any of its local subdivisions, because the framers of its constitution wisely limited its debts to one million dollars. If proportionate limitations had been placed upon the debt-creating authority of our local governments, Kansas would today have been in a much better financial condition, and in all other respects her people would be quite as prosperous as they now are."
He admitted that the provision and application of remedies constituted a problem difficult of solution, but suggested the following as worthy of trial: 1stStringent limitations upon the debt-creating and tax-levying powers of municipalities; 2ndRelegating about one-half of the so-called "cities" to the rank of towns or villages with less expensive forms of government: 3dReducing the number of officials in cities, thereby cutting off a large part of the expense of local government; 4thPermit no municipality to issue bonds except upon the vote of three-fourths of the legal voters.
The governor then reviewed the condition of the state institutions, discussed the Price Raid claims, the eastern boundary, the work of the state agent at Washington, the New Orleans exposition, the advisability of creating a state board of health, the prohibitory amendment and law, and suggested that the laws relating to assessment and equalization of property needed "thorough revision," as well as the crimes act, which was "originally brought over from Missouri in 1855."
After calling attention to the several laws enacted or repealed, relating to a state census, he says: "I venture the suggestion that these several acts, commencing with that of 1873, are inadequate in their provisions for a regular decennial census, which ought to follow, as nearly as may be, the forms used in the Federal census, so that comparisons may be made with it, thus giving us the benefit of a complete census every five years. Your attention is respectfully invited to this subject, and to the necessity of an appropriation for the expenses of such a census as, in your wisdom, you shall make provision for."
Section 2, Article X, of the constitution, as originally adopted, required a reapportionment of the state for legislative purposes, based on the census of the preceding year. The adoption of the amendment providing for biennial sessions was found in 1885 to come in conflict with the section authorizing the reapportionment, as no regular legislative session would be held in the year 1886. "This," said the governor, "is one of the anomalies of our organic law growing out of its frequent amendment, and the difficulty of adjusting these amendments to all sections of an originally consistent instrument. . . . You may, perhaps, be able to devise some measure by means of which the necessity for an extra session in 1886 may be avoided."
A number of important laws were passed during the session, which came to a close on March 7. The trustees of the school for feeble-minded youth were directed to secure a new location for the institution within two miles of the city of Winfield; state and local boards of health were established; the militia of the state was organized as the Kansas National Guard; a board of pardons was created; also a board of pharmacy, a board of examiners in dentistry, and a bureau of labor statistics; railroad companies were required to fence their right-of-way; jurisdiction over the site of the National Soldiers' Home at Leavenworth and a site for a Federal building in the city of Fort Scott was ceded to the United States; the prohibitory law was amended; provision was made for remodeling the east wing of the capitol; a state reformatory and a soldiers' orphans' home were established; and a constitutional amendment increasing the number of supreme court justices was proposed.
On March 1, 1885, the state census was taken, in accordance with the constitutional provision above alluded to, and showed the population of the state to be 1,268,562, upon which the new apportionment of the state into legislative districts must be made. The general assembly of 1885 had not been able to devise a method to avoid an extra session, and on Dec. 3, 1885, Gov. Martin issued a proclamation calling the legislature together on Jan. 19, 1886, to make a new apportionment as required by the constitution; to correct some mistakes in the acts of 1885 relating to the reform school and the school for feeble-minded; to make an appropriation to pay the salary and expenses of the commissioner of labor; and to correct the boundaries of certain judicial districts.
The legislature met at the appointed time, with the same officers as the regular session of 1885, and remained in session until Feb. 20. In his message the governor called attention in detail to the defects in the laws referred to in his proclamation, as well as the failure of the last regular session to make an appropriation for the state board of health. He also gave an account of the Cheyenne Indian invasion of the previous year, and the strike on the Missouri Pacific railroad in March, 1885, shortly after the adjournment of the legislature, and recommended the enactment of a law providing for some means of arbitrating disputes between the workmen and their employers. He announced that ex-Gov. Samuel J. Crawford, state agent at Washington, had turned over to him drafts on the United States treasury aggregating $332,308.13 "for reimbursement for expenses in repelling invasions and suppressing Indian hostilities," exclusive of any Price Raid claims.
Although the session was a short one a number of good laws were enacted. A complete legislative apportionment was made; the errors suggested by the governor in his proclamation and message were corrected; cities were authorized to establish and maintain free libraries; the game laws were amended; jurisdiction over certain lots in the city of Wichita was ceded to the United States as a site for a Federal building; counties were authorized to establish high schools; the appointment of boards of arbitration was provided for, and upon the recommendation of Gov. Martin May 30 was declared a legal holiday. (See Memorial Day.)
On Jan. 29, 1886, while the general assembly was in special session the quarter-centennial of the admission was celebrated with appropriate ceremonies and observances in the city of Topeka. The movement for a celebration of this character originated with the survivors of the Wyandotte constitutional convention on July 29, 1884. At a second meeting on Nov. 24, 1885, a committee of arrangements was appointed, with Col. D. R. Anthony, president of the State Historical Society, as chairman, and Franklin G. Adams as secretary. This committee performed its work well, and the celebration on the twenty-fifth anniversary of admission was an acknowledged success. Speeches were made by ex-Gov. Robinson, Samuel N. Wood, Cyrus K. Holliday, John Speer, T. D. Thacher, Noble L. Prentis, Daniel W. Wilder, Eugene F. Ware and a number of others, each reviewing some particular feature of the history and development of Kansas.
In March, 1885, a strike occurred on the Missouri Pacific railroad, and it was chiefly due to this fact that Gov. Martin recommended to the special session of the general assembly the enactment of some law providing for arbitration. Another strike began in March, 1886, when the Knights of Labor employed on the Missouri Pacific lines left their work and used every effort to prevent others from taking their places. The center of the difficulty was at Parsons, and on the 14th the sheriff of Labette county notified the governor that he was not able to control the situation. Gov. Martin at once despatched the adjutant-general to Parsons, with instructions to call out the state militia if necessary. This was finally done and order was restored. (See Labor Toubles.)[sic]
On July 7, 1886, a Republican state convention assembled at Topeka and nominated for reëlection all the state officers except auditor and treasurer, which places on the ticket were filled by Timothy McCarthy and James W. Hamilton.
The Democratic state convention met at Leavenworth on Aug. 4. Thomas Moonlight was nominated for governor; S. G. Isett, for lieutenant-governor; W. F. Petillon, for secretary of state; W. D. Kelley (colored), for auditor; L. P. Birchfield, for treasurer; A. S. Devenney, for attorney-general; W. J. A. Montgomery, for superintendent of public instruction; and W. M. Whitelaw, for associate justice.
The prohibitionists also placed a state ticket in the field, headed by C. H. Branscomb as the candidate for governor. At the election in November Gov. Martin was reëlected, receiving 149,615 votes to 115,697 for Moonlight, and 8,094 for Branscomb. The Republican candidate for Congress from each district was also elected.
Gov. Martin was inaugurated for his second term on Jan. 10, 1887, and the next day the legislature met in regular biennial session, with Lieut.-Gov. Riddle again presiding in the senate and A. W. Smith as speaker of the house. Gov. Martin began his inaugural message by saying: "To be elected chief magistrate of this great, intelligent and prosperous state for a second term, is a distinguished honor. And I trust it is not inappropriate for me to express to the people of Kansas, through you, their chosen representatives, my grateful appreciation of their generous confidence, my profound sense of the responsibilities devolved upon me, and my earnest hope that I may, by honest, faithful and conscientious performance of my official duties, in some measure justify the faith they have reposed in me."
He pointed out that, since the last regular session, nearly 2,000 miles of railroad had been constructed and placed in operation; over $40,000,000 added to the value of the taxable property of the state; more than 2,000,000 acres of land brought under cultivation, and approximately 400,000 added to the population. Fifteen new counties had been organized, and since Jan. 1, 1885, the state debt had been reduced $105,000, leaving a bonded indebtedness of $830,500, of which $574,500 was held by the different state funds and institutions. (See Finances, State.)
Regarding municipal debts and taxation, upon which he dwelt at such length in his former message, he said: "I called the attention of the legislature to this subject, in my biennial message of 1885, and again in my special message of 1886, and I earnestly urged that stringent limitations be placed on the debt-creating and tax-levying authority of counties, townships and cities. No action was taken, however, and the municipal subdivisions of the state have gone on, voting bonds, and piling up interest-bearing debts that will, in a few years, cripple and dishearten every energy and ambition of their people, and paralyze public spirit."
He then goes on to show that the municipal indebtedness of the state had been increased $3,445,922 since Jan. 1, 1885, and had reached a total of $19,397,851, of which over $12,000,000 had been voted to aid in the construction of railroads. In addition to this, within the preceding two years bonds to the amount of $11,222,000 had been voted, but not yet issued. Of these bonds $11,146,000 had been in the interest of railroad companies. If they should be issued the total municipal debt would be augmented to over $30,000,000.
"I am as anxious as any citizen can be," said he, "that every section of our state shall be provided with the most abundant transportation facilities. But, in my judgment, Kansas long ago passed that stage of development when a bond-voting stimulus was necessary to promote the building of any legitimate railroad. As long, however, as authority to vote bonds is given by law, the railroad companies will make subsidies a condition precedent to building roads, and the people of different counties, townships and cities will be compelled to give the aid asked in order to protect their own local interests against injury or destruction. To repeal this authority will not prevent the building of railroads, but it will prevent the necessity of any further increase of our already large municipal indebtedness."
The authority was not repealed at this session, but by the act of March 4, 1887, the law of 1877, relating to extending aid to railroad companies was amended so as to require a petition signed by two-fifths of the resident taxpayers before an election, to vote on the question of issuing bonds, could be ordered by the municipal authorities. A second election on the same subject could be ordered only upon the petition of a majority of the legal voters, and in all cases the railroad company seeking the aid was required to deposit with the county commissioners a sum of money sufficient to defray the expenses of the election. It was also provided that no county could issue more than $100,000 worth of such bonds, with an additional five per cent, of the assessed value of the property in such county, and no township more than $15,000 worth of bonds, with the additional five per cent., and in no case should the total amount of aid voted by any county, township or city exceed $2,000 per mile for any railroad constructed in the county.
Another act, on the following day, provided that all bonds hereafter issued by counties, townships or cities, should be redeemable at the option of the authorities at any time after ten years from date of issue, payment to be made from a sinking fund created and maintained for that purpose.
Other subjects discussed by the governor in his message of 1887 were the state institutions; the necessity for some sort of relief for the supreme court, which was overburdened with cases on appeal; the work of the pardoning board, the insurance department and the labor bureau; silk culture; the advisability of making some equitable adjustment of judicial districts; and an amendment to the divorce laws, so that citizens of other states could not take advantage of loose provisions to secure divorces in Kansas. On the subject of railroads he said: "The issuing of 'watered stock' should be prohibited, under the severest penalties. No railway company should be permitted to issue a single dollar of stock in excess of the actual cost of building and equipping the road."
During the legislative session, which closed on March 5, a large number of acts were passed. Provision was made for the payment of the Quantrill Raid claims; the office of commissioner of forestry was created; the appointment of supreme court commissioners was authorized; an equitable division of the state into judicial districts was provided for; the political disabilities of a number of persons were removed; and amendments were made to the laws relating to the improvement of highways and to the assessment and collection of taxes in cities of the second and third classes. The legislature of 1887 also passed what is known as the "Municipal Suffrage Bill," giving women the right to vote "for the election of city or school officers, or for the purpose of authorizing the issuance of any bonds for school purposes." (See Woman Suffrage.)
In the first administration of Gov. Martin, serious difficulties occurred in several counties over the location of the county seat. An election was held in Pratt county in Oct., 1885, to determine the site of a permanent seat of justice and resulted in a local war, which was only settled by Adjt.-Gen. Campbell and Col. W. B. Hutchinson, of the governor's staff, going to the scene of the disturbance and adopting the somewhat heroic remedy of placing guards about the rival towns, with instructions to permit no one bearing arms to enter the town. In Hamilton county there was a contest over the county seat, which was finally adjudicated by the supreme court. In some instances, in the organization of new counties, as many as seven elections were held before the county seat was permanently located, and even then there was more or less dissatisfaction over the result.
To remedy this condition of affairs, the legislature of 1887 enacted a new law regarding the organization of new counties and the location of seats of justice. Under the provisions of this law, before a county could be organized, a census must show 2,500 bona fide inhabitants, 400 of whom must be householders, and that the property of the county possessed a value of at least $150,000, one-half of which must be in real estate. When these conditions were complied with, the governor was authorized to appoint three commissioners, a clerk and a sheriff, who were to designate a temporary county seat and order an election, within from 90 to 120 days after the county was organized, to determine the permanent county seat.
It was thought that this would alleviate, if not entirely put an end to, the acrid disputes in the organization of counties. But on June 7 an election in Stevens county started a feud which resulted in the killing of Sheriff Cross and three others, and the wounding of several more. The towns of Ingalls and Cimarron in Gray county became involved in a contest and a detachment of the militia was sent to restore order. In Wichita county the towns of Coronado and Leoti became contestants for county seat honors, and the excitement was quieted only through the intervention of Adjt.-Gen. Campbell. (For a more complete account of these county seat wars, see the historical sketches of the several counties.)
Near the close of the legislative session of 1887, Speaker Smith was presented with a gavel by a Grand Army post of Richmond, Va. It was made from wood taken from the historic Libby prison, in which Mr. Smith was held for some time as a prisoner of war in 1863.
In the spring of 1888 a movement was started to remove the capital from Topeka to some point nearer the geographical center of the state. Some 600 delegates met at Abilene in April, adopted resolutions opposing any further appropriations for the completion or improvement of the state-house at Topeka, and inviting the coöperation of the people of central and western Kansas to secure the removal. Nothing ever came of the scheme, however, as the people were not inclined to abandon a state-house that had cost them nearly $1,500,000, and go to he expense of erecting another.
Conventions of the various political parties were held early in 1888, for the purpose of selecting delegates to the national conventions, but the first convention to nominate candidates for the state offices was held by the Democratic party at Leavenworth on July 4. John Martin was nominated for governor; H. M. Moore, for lieutenant-governor; Allen G. Thurman, for secretary of state; W. H. Wilhoite, for auditor; William H. White, for treasurer; C. F. Deffenbacher, for attorney-general; A. N. Cole, for superintendent of public instruction; and W. P. Campbell, for associate justice. John C. Sheridan and J. L. Crider were named for presidential electors at large, and the district electors were: B. A. Seaver, C. E. Benton, E. A. Scammon, John Watrous, W. C. Buchanan, W. D. Covington and B. F. Milton. The platform indorsed the nomination of Cleveland and Thurman by the national convention; expressed the party's opposition to sumptuary legislation; denounced the metropolitan police system, and demanded a reduction in tariff duties on imports. Two changes were subsequently made in the state ticket, F. W. Frasius taking the place of H. M. Moore for lieutenant-governor, and Albert Hurst that of A. N. Cole for superintendent of public instruction.
On July 18 the Prohibition state convention met at Hutchinson and named the following ticket: For governor, J. D. Botkin; lieutenant-governor, R. J. Finley; secretary of state, L. K. McIntyre; auditor, Gabriel Burdette; treasurer, R. M. Slonecker; attorney-general, Stanton M. Hyer; superintendent of public instruction, Miss Sarah A. Brown; associate justice, I. O. Pickering. The platform, in addition to the usual declarations regarding the liquor traffic, favored government ownership of railroads and telegraphs; the election of president, vice-president and United States senators by direct vote of the people; and opposed alien ownership of land. The Prohibition electors at large were J. H. Byers and W. H. Ransom; the district electors were: J. N. Schouller, W. H. Lemon, Miles Brown, J. H. Thompson, Charles Fairfield, C. H. St. John and W. M. Friedley.
The Republican state convention met at Topeka on July 26. Resolutions were adopted in favor of "Home rule against the saloon;" the strict enforcement of the prohibitory law; legislation to protect American labor against Chinese, convict and pauper competition; the reduction of the legal rate of interest to six per cent., and demanding the overthrown of the trusts. In the selection of candidates for the state offices, Lyman U. Humphrey was nominated for governor; Andrew J. Felt, for lieutenant-governor; William Higgins, for secretary of state; Timothy McCarthy, for auditor; James W. Hamilton, for treasurer; L. B. Kellogg, for attorney-general; George W. Winans, for superintendent of public instruction; and William A. Johnston, for associate justice. John L. Waller and Eugene F. Ware were the Republican candidates for presidential electors at large in this campaign, and the candidates for district electors were: Alonzo W. Robinson, Frank R. Ogg, Thomas P. Anderson, John Madden, Delbert A. Valentine, James B. McGonigal and Willis G. Emerson.
A Union Labor (Greenback) ticket was also placed in the field. The candidates for presidential electors at large on this ticket were John Davis and Cyrus Corning; for district electors, T. D. Fraser, D. O. Markley, J. L. Shinn, P. B. Maxson, L. G. Frybarger, Albert Fuller and Charles Rumsey. For the state offices P. P. Elder was nominated for governor; S. B. Todd, for lieutenant-governor; M. J. Albright, for secretary of state; J. H. Lathrop, for auditor; Samuel Nutt, for treasurer; W. F. Rightmire, for attorney-general; H. F. Hixson, for superintendent of public instruction; H. A. White, for associate justice.
At the election on Nov. 6, the Republican presidential electors carried the state by a plurality of over 76,000. The vote for governor was as follows: Humphrey, 180,841; Martin, 107,480; Elder, 35,837; Botkin, 6,439. The Republican candidate for Congress in each of the seven districts was elected.
About this time the gigantic combinations of capital, known as "trusts," were attracting widespread attention. In May, 1888, a farmer's convention met in Topeka to discuss the subject and propose a remedy. Five statesKansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois and Indianawere represented. Nothing definitely was at that time accomplished, and the convention adjourned until Nov. 14, when the "Farmers' National Congress" met in Topeka, where the National Grange, Patrons of Husbandry, met at the same time. The resolutions adopted approved of the encouragement and assistance extended to the sugar industry by the United States department of agriculture; commended the liberality of Congress in making appropriations for experimental work in furtherance of that industry; opposed all combinations of capital in trusts or otherwise to exercise control of the markets; urged the speedy passage of the bill creating the cabinet office of secretary of agriculture, and recommended "that said position be filled by a practical farmer:" expressed the opinion that the agricultural activities of the country would be much improved by an increase in the circulating medium, and favored the free coinage of silver.
By the provisions of the constitution, the governor's term begins on the second Monday in January following his election, and the legislature meets on the second Tuesday. In 1889 January began on Tuesday, the legislature convened on the 8th, and Gov. Martin did not retire from the office until the 14th. Hence, it fell to his lot to deliver a retiring message to the general assembly. After referring to the constitutional provisions governing the time of the governor's inauguration and the opening of the legislative session, he said: "This year, for the first time in the history of the state, the term of the retiring governor does not expire until six days after the assembling of the legislature, and thus it is made my duty, under the provision of the constitution above recited, to transmit to you this communication."
Municipal indebtedness again became one of the principal themes of his message. He pointed out that the law of 1887, reducing the amount of railroad bonds that could be issued by any municipality from $4,000 to $2,000 per mile, did not take effect until July 1, 1887, and that some municipalities had taken advantage of this delay to issue bonds before the new law became effective. At the close of the fiscal year on June 30, 1888, the total debt of counties, cities, townships and school districts amounted to $31,107,646.90, from which could be deducted the cash in the sinking fund ($373,712.03), leaving a net indebtedness of $30,733,934.87. Of this amount, he stated that four-fifths had been for bonds issued in behalf of railroad companies. Said he: "'Pay as you go' ought to be, henceforth, the motto of every municipality in the state."
He called attention to the fact that the secretary of war had requested, by letter, the passage of an act ceding jurisdiction to the United States over the Fort Riley military reservation; recommended a revision of the laws relating to insurance, public highways, fees of officers, capital punishment, judicial districts and railroads; and closed his message as follows:
"In conclusion, I desire to express my profound gratitude to the people of Kansas, who have not only honored me with two elections to the highest office in their gift, but sustained me with a constancy as unfailing as it was generous.
"I wish also to acknowledge the steadfast and helpful support given me by all the state officers and heads of departments, during the past four years. No executive has ever had the counsel of more competent and faithful officers.
"That Kansas may continue to grow and prosper; that her citizens may enjoy, for centuries to come, the blessings of wise and just laws, protecting the rights and interests of all alike; and that your labors, gentlemen of the legislature, may be not only pleasant to you, but beneficial to those you represent, is my fervent hope and prayer."Pages 235-244 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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