St. John's Administration.The administration of Gov. St. John commenced with the opening of the second biennial session of the general assembly, which convened on Jan. 14, 1879. Lieut.-Gov. Lyman U. Humphrey, by virtue of his office, became the president of the senate, and Sidney Clarke was elected speaker of the house. Gov. St. John's inaugural message did not depart from established precedent in reviewing the state finances and institutions. The most noteworthy utterances were those relating to temperance and railroads.
"There are," says the message, "about 2,300 miles of railroad in operation in Kansas, the assessed value of which, as shown by the report of the auditor of state, is $15,525,033.25. While it is true that these railroads have contributed largely to the wealth, prosperity and progress of our state, it is also equally true that not only our people, but the state and general government, have contributed liberally toward their construction and support.
"The railway corporations of Kansas derive their powers from, and the capital invested therein is entitled to and receives protection at the hands of the state. Their income arising from earnings, is derived mainly from the patronage of the people of Kansas, and the people in return have the right to demand that such limitations, restrictions and regulations touching fares and freights be imposed, as will fully protect their interests, and at the same time do no injustice to these corporations.
"Our present law, in my judgment, is wholly inadequate; Section 6, of Chapter 23 of the general statutes of Kansas, prohibits railway corporations from charging over six cents per mile for transporting passengers. Such a limitation affords no protection to the traveling public. Nor is it practically any restriction on the corporation, for but few, if any, railroads now in this country charge six cents per mile, even where there is no limitation. Sections 57, 58 and 59 of the same chapter, relating to the classification of, and charges for carrying freight, are less restrictive, if possible, than said Section 56. Besides, by these sections, the classification of freights being left entirely at the discretion of the railroad company, the restrictions and limitations therein attempted to be imposed are ineffective.
"I therefore suggest that this law be so amended as clearly to define the limitations, restrictions and regulations relating to charges for fares and freights, and that such limitations, restrictions and regulations be made to do, as nearly as possible, equal justice to the railroads and to the people, and thus have the rights of both parties touching this question definitely settled."
Although this quotation from the message is somewhat lengthy, it has been given because at that time the transportation question was, and had been for some years previous, one of great importance to the people west of the Mississippi river, and the suggestions and recommendations of Gov. St. John were in harmony with the suggestions of governors of, and the legislation enacted by other western states. At the present timethirty years after that message was submitted to a Kansas legislaturewhen the prevailing passenger rate in most of the western and central states is two cents a mile, it sounds like an echo from the Middle Ages to read that Kansas once had a law restricting the fare to six cents. No legislation restricting the fares and freights of railroad companies was passed by the session of 1879, but the agitation started about that time was kept up and culminated a few years later in the creation of a railroad commission.
Gov. St. John's views on the temperance question were well known before his election, and his utterances on that subject in his first message to the general assembly are not at all surprising. "I fully realize," said he, "that it is easier to talk about the evils flowing from the use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage than it is to provide a remedy for them. If it could be fully accomplished, I am clearly of the opinion that no greater blessing could be conferred by you upon the people of this state than to absolutely and forever prohibit the manufacture, importation and sale of intoxicating liquors as a beverage. But many people insist that a prohibitory law could not, or at least would not, be enforced, and that any law that cannot be enforced is worse than no law at all."
The legislature seems to have been in full sympathy with the governor on this question, and on March 8, four days before the close of the session, he approved senate joint resolution No. 3, submitting to the people an amendment to the state constitution, adding Section 10 to Article XV, to-wit: "The manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors shall be forever prohibited in this state, except for medical, scientific and mechanical purposes."
Two other propositions were also submitted to the peopleone an amendment to the constitution relating to taxation (See Constitutional Amendments), and the other the question of holding a constitutional convention. The assembly adjourned on March 12. During the session acts were passed making appropriations to pay the expenses of the railroad strike and for testing the title to the Cherokee Neutral Lands; defining the boundaries of a number of counties; authorizing a commission to audit the Indian claims of 1878; providing a contingent fund for aiding settlers on the frontier who lost property by the Indian raids; establishing a state reform school; extending for seventy-nine years the railroad charters granted by territorial legislatures; creating an executive council; providing for the completion of the west wing of the statehouse, and for a coal shaft at the penitentiary; and regulating the practice of medicine.
As the term of United States Senator John J. Ingalls was about to expire, it became the duty of the legislature of 1879 to elect his successor. The first ballot was taken on Jan. 28, and resulted in no election. The balloting continued daily until the 31st, when Mr. Ingalls was reëlected, receiving 86 of the 169 votes cast. Albert H. Horton received 80 votes; John R. Goodin, 2; and D. P. Mitchell, 1. Immediately after the election charges of bribery were made, and on Feb. 6 the house adopted a resolution authorizing the appointment of a committee of five members to investigate the charges and report. Accordingly A. M. F. Randolph, John Hall, A. W. Callen, J. H. Keller and R. D. Hartshorne were appointed on the committee, and on March 7 three reports were returned to the house. The majority report, which was the one adopted, declared "That no acts of bribery and corruption connected with the late senatorial election, nor any charges of corruption in office, are proven against John J. Ingalls."
The report further stated that, "Concerning each and all the other late senatorial candidates, there is nothing in the testimony taken which touches the honor of integrity of anyone of them."
This report was adopted by the house by a vote of 60 to 44 on March 10, and Mr. Callen, of the committee, introduced the following resolution:
"Whereas, The testimony taken by the investigating committee, discloses the fact that certain members of this house did, during the late senatorial contest, take special pains to place themselves in position to be offered money to influence their votes and in some instances actually did receive money, though not from either of the senatorial candidates; therefore be it
"Resolved, That the conduct of all such members is deserving of, and this house does administer upon them its severest censure, committing them to their constituents for that ultimate condemnation which they so justly deserve."
The resolution was adopted by a vote of 51 to 48. (See House Journal of 1879, p. 1,291.) Subsequently a committee of the United States senate investigated the charges against Mr. Ingalls and made a report completely exonerating him. A full review of the case may be found in the Topeka Commonwealth of Feb. 18, 1880. This was the end of bribery charges in connection with Kansas senatorial elections, which prior to this time had been an unpleasant feature of so many contests.
During the border troubles, when it was a mooted question whether Kansas was to be a free or a slave state, a large number of adventurous characters were attracted to the territory by the exciting scenes that were there being enacted. When the state was admitted into the Union, many of these men began to take an active interest in political affairs, not so much for the public good as for their own personal aggrandizement or political preferment. The methods of such men are not always scrupulous, and it is not surprising that corruption and bribery became a part of the early political history of the state. But after twenty years of statehood a better class of people gained control, and the political adventurer practically disappeared, greatly to the credit and advantage of Kansas and her institutions.
The year 1879 is somewhat noted for the beginning of the tide of negro immigration to Kansas. (See Negro Exodus.) In the fall of that year the state was honored by a visit from Rutherford B. Hayes, president of the United States, and Gen. William T. Sherman, who arrived at Fort Scott on Sept. 24. The distinguished guests then visited Parsons, Neosho Falls, Hutchinson, Larned, Kinsley, Dodge City and Emporia, and arrived late on the 26th at Topeka, where they were that evening given a public reception. On the 27th they visited Lawrence and Leavenworth, and made their last stop in the state at Atchison on the 29th. In a speech at Parsons President Hayes said: "Kansas is the best advertised state in the Union; and you come up to the advertisement. When you go anywhere the people naturally show you the best thing they have. In some cities it is fashionable to take you to the cemetery. I was in a city a few weeks ago where they took me to see the pin factory. I wondered what would be the best thing you would show me here. You took me to see your school house. There is no better advertisement for a city or state."
In the course of his remarks on the same occasion, Gen. Sherman said: "I don't know what mystery has brought about the rapid development of Kansas, except the mystery of education and industry."
It frequently happens that speeches by prominent persons, in visiting a city, are more complimentary than truthful, but in this case neither the president nor the head of the army paid the State of Kansas a compliment that she could not and does not sustain. The "Kansas spirit" is noted throughout the country for its disposition to promote education and industrial development, and it is to this spirit that the state owes its almost marvelous advancement. The decade from 1870 to 1880 was one of great progress. In 1860, the last year of the territorial regime, Kansas had 41 counties, only 32 of which were organized; in 1870 there were 54 organized counties; and in 1880 there were 105 counties, 80 of which were fully organized. Drought, locusts and hostile Indians had failed to check more than temporarily the growth of the state. The census of 1880 showed a population of 996,096, a gain of 631,697, or more than 170 per cent. over the population of 1870. The corn crop of 1880 amounted to 101,421,718 bushels, and the wheat crop was over 27,000,000 bushels. At the close of the year there had been 79,961 homestead entries, embracing 10,762,353 acres, and there were over 3,000 miles of railroad in operation. And all this in a region designated by Maj. Stephen H. Long only sixty years before as "The Great American Desert."
The political campaign of 1880 was opened by the Republican party, which held a state convention on March 31 and selected the following delegates to the national convention: John A. Martin, Perry Hutchinson, George H. Case, S. Motz, S. S. Benedict, B. F. Simpson, B. W. Perkins, Preston B. Plumb, H. P. Wolcott and William Thompson. John Shilling, William A. Peffer, James D. Snoddy, R. W. P. Muse and Henderson Ritchie were nominated for presidential electors, and one of the resolutions adopted declared "That James G. Blaine has the confidence of the Republicans of Kansas; that we recognize in him a statesman worthy to lead the national Republican party to victory; that he is the choice of the Republicans of Kansas for president of the United States, and that we pledge him our united support."
On May 26 the Democrats met in state convention and selected as delegates to the national convention of that party Charles W. Blair, R. B. Morris, Edward Carroll, J. B. Chapman, John R. Goodin, Thomas M. Carroll, M. V. B. Bennett, John Martin, Thomas George, and John C. Rogers.
The Republican national convention met at Chicago on June 8 and nominated James A. Garfield for president and Chester A. Arthur for vice-president. The Democratic national convention, which met at Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 24, nominated Gen. Winfield Hancock and William H. English.
The first nominations for state offices in 1880 were made by the Greenback-Labor convention at Topeka on July 28, when H. P. Vrooman was nominated for governor; H. L. Phillips, for lieutenant-governor; A. B. Cornell, for secretary of state; D. J. Cole, for auditor; S. A. Marshall, for treasurer; D. B. Hadley, for attorney-general; Charles Smith, for superintendent of public instruction; L. D. Bailey, for associate justice; Samuel N. Wood, J. J. McFeeley, Barney O'Driscoll, Henry Bronson and James G. Bayne, for presidential electors. In the platform, the declaration of principles adopted by the national convention at Chicago and the nomination of Gen. James B. Weaver and B. J. Chambers for president and vice-president were indorsed; a state constitutional convention and the employment of convict labor in competition with free labor were opposed; a demand was made for the passage of a law fixing a lower rate of interest; and the last session of the state legislature was condemned for its extravagance. One resolution was as follows: "That the act of the last legislature, in abolishing the one-mill state school tax, which has been levied from our state's existence, merits our unqualified condemnation, from the fact that it was a blow struck at the people's collegesthe common schools of our statein the interest of corporations."
On Aug. 26 the Democratic state convention met at Topeka and nominated the following ticket: For governor, Edmund G. Ross; lieutenant-governor, Thomas George; secretary of state, John M. Giffin; auditor, J. G. Neumueller; treasurer, Theodore Weichselbaum; attorney-general, A. L. Hereford; superintendent of public instruction, Miss Sarah A. Brown; associate justice, W. R. Wagstaff; presidential electors, Thomas P. Fenlon, A. A. Harris, Thomas Moonlight, J. B. Scroggs and G. C. Rogers. The platform indorsed the action of the national convention in nominating Hancock and English; authorized the state central committee to fill vacancies on the ticket, should any occur; and pledged the party to oppose the constitutional amendment repealing the provision exempting property to the amount of $200 from taxation.
The nomination of Miss Brown for superintendent of public instruction was the first time that a woman had ever been named by any political organization for a state office in Kansas. In accepting the nomination she said: "In making this nomination, the Democratic party of Kansas has yielded to the tendency of the times which demands equal rights and equal opportunities for all the people, and has thus shown itself to be a party of progress. It has placed itself squarely and unequivocally before the people upon this great and vital question of giving to woman the right to work in any field for which she may be fitted, thus placing our young and glorious state in the foremost rank on this, as well as on the question of reform."
The Republican state convention assembled at Topeka on Sept. 1, Gov. St. John was renominated on the first ballot; Secretary Smith, Auditor Bonebrake and Treasurer Francis were also renominated, and the ticket was completed by the selection of D. W. Finney for lieutenant-governor; W. A. Johnston for attorney-general; H. C. Speer for superintendent of public instruction, and D. M. Valentine for associate justice. In the resolutions adopted a strong indorsement was given to the candidacy of Garfield and Arthur for president and vice-president, respectively; the State of Kansas was congratulated on the progress made under Republican rule and upon the fact "that the resumption of specie payments has brought in its train general prosperity and universal confidence, and that our currency (coin and paper) has a fixed value and is convertible, secure and equivalent."
On the evening of Sept. 2 an independent convention was held at the Tefft House in the city of Topeka. This was known as "Jack Downing's convention." Dr. F. M. Stringfield was nominated for governor, and at the election in November received 219 votes. Gov. St. John received 121,549; Ross, 63,557; and Vrooman, 19,477. The Republican presidential electors carried the state by over 60,000 plurality, and the three Republican candidates for Congress were all elected, viz: John A. Anderson in the first district; Dudley C. Haskell in the second, and Thomas Ryan in the third. Notwithstanding the intense interest manifested during the campaign in the prohibitory amendment, the number of votes cast on this question was nearly 22,000 less than the number cast for governor, and more than 24,000 less than the number cast for presidential electors. It was carried by a vote of 92,302 to 84,304. The amendment to repeal the provision exempting from taxation property to the amount of $200 was overwhelmingly defeated, 38,442 votes being cast in the affirmative and 140,020 in the negative, and the proposition to hold a constitutional convention was defeated by even a larger majority, 22,870 votes being cast in favor of it and 146,279 against it.
Gov. St. John was inaugurated for his second term on Jan. 11, 1881, when the third biennial session of the legislature was convened, with Lieut.-Gov. Finney presiding in the senate and J. B. Johnson speaker of the house. In his message the governor again reviewed the progress of the state during the preceding ten years, and added: "These are some of the legitimate fruits of a policy that protects the life, property and lawful ballot of all citizens, and makes ample provision for the education of every child of our state."
According to the reports of the state officers, the total receipts for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 1880, were $2,018,065.05, and the disbursements for the same period amounted to $1,573,367.29, leaving a balance in the treasury of $444,697.76. The bonded debt of $1,181,975 was all held by the state sinking fund or the state institutions except $370,575.
The census returns for 1880 showed 134 feeble-minded or idotic[sic] persons in the state, 66 of whom were under 21 years of age. Referring to these persons, the governor said: "Up to the present time, the state has made no provisions for their education or development.
The school for feeble-minded children is no longer an experiment. The most sanguine anticipations of the success of what were established as experimental schools for this class of children have been more than realized, and thousands have been brought from a state of almost utter hopelessness to a condition that enables them to care for and sustain themselves. . . . While the parents of this class of children are compelled to pay their proportion of the common school tax, no portion of this tax can be used for the special instruction of these children. They can only be educated by sending them to institutions provided for that purpose by other states, at such expense as but few are able and none ought to be compelled to pay. I therefore recommend that provision be made for the establishment of a school for the education of feeble-minded children."
By the act of March 12, 1879, the sum of $20,000 was appropriated for the protection of settlers on the frontier against the depredations of the Indian tribes. "In April, 1879," says the governor, "by virtue of this act, I organized and thoroughly equipped a patrol guard of about 40 men, and kept them on the southwestern border patrolling a line from Barhour county west about 100 miles, thus rendering it impossible for any considerable number of hostile Indians to invade the state without notice thereof being promptly conveyed not only to the settlers exposed to such dangers, but to both the state and national authorities, so that a sufficient additional force might be quickly added to the patrol guard to resist successfully any such invasion and furnish ample protection to the lives and property of the citizens."
In addition to this patrol guard, the governor also caused independent companies of both infantry and cavalry to be organized along the frontier; furnished these companies with arms and ammunition; completed the organization of two regiments of infantry to be ready for emergencies; and kept special scouts in the vicinity of the Indian camps and reservations except during the severe winter weather. The men belonging to the two regiments of infantry furnished their own uniforms, paid rent for their armories, and incurred considerable expense in other ways to maintain their organization. "If these officers and men," said the governor, "without cost to the state, devote the necessary time required to make their military organizations efficient, I submit, the state should at least defray the expenses thus incurred in providing means for its own defense. The way to secure obedience to and respect for our laws is always to be possessed of the power to enforce them."
On the subject of the prohibitory amendment, he said: "This amendment now being a part of the constitution of our state, it devolves upon you to enact such laws as are necessary for its rigid enforcement." (See Prohibition.) The message recommended "a comprehensive and thorough geological survey;" that provisions be made for the selection and inscription of a suitable memorial stone for the Washington monument; that the state board of agriculture should "be liberally sustained by the state," and that an appropriation be made to the horticultural society "sufficient to assure its continued usefulness."
The assembly adjourned on March 5. Gov. St. John's recommendation with regard to a school for feeble-minded youth resulted in the passage of an act establishing an institution of that character in the old university building at Lawrence. Other important acts of the session were as follows: Providing for carrying into effect the prohibitory amendment; creating the county of St. John; granting permission to the Topeka Library Association to erect a building on the statehouse grounds, the governor, chief justice of the supreme court and the speaker of the house of representatives to be ex-officio directors of the association; accepting the ornithological collection of Col. N. S. Goss; removing the political disabilities of a number of persons; providing for the completion of the west wing of the capitol building, and for the registration of voters in county seat elections. The appropriations for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 1881, amounted to $1,032,451.95.
By the United States census of 1880 Kansas was entitled to seven representatives in Congress, but the fact was not known in time for the legislature of 1881 to divide the state into seven districts. To meet this condition all the political parties, in the campaign of 1882, nominated a candidate for representative in each of the three old districts and four for the state at large. The first state convention in that campaign was held by the Republican party at Topeka on June 28. Samuel R. Peters, Edward N. Morrill, B. W. Perkins and Lewis Hanback were nominated for Congressmen at large; John P. St. John was a third time nominated for governor; the lieutenant-governor, secretary of state, attorney-general and superintendent of public instruction were all renominated, as was David J. Brewer, who had been first elected in 1876, for associate justice. E. P. McCabe, a colored man, was nominated for auditor of state, and Samuel T. Howe for treasurer. The platform adopted declared unqualifiedly for prohibition; demanded the enactment of laws to prevent unjust discrimination by railroad companies and protect the interests of the people; requested the next legislature to submit to the people an amendment to the constitution giving women the right to suffrage; indorsed President Arthur's veto of the river and harbor bill, and the united action of the Kansas delegation in Congress in sustaining the veto.
On Aug. 30 the Greenback-Labor convention met and nominated the following ticket: For governor, Charles Robinson; lieutenant-governor, J. G. Bayne; secretary of state, A. P. Elder; auditor, W. A. Garretson; treasurer, J. H. Ludlow; attorney general, J. D. McBrian; superintendent of public instruction, J. S. Whitman; associate justice, L. C. Uhl; Congressmen at large, H. L. Phillips, John Davis, Allen Williams (colored), and Samuel N. Wood.
A week later the Democratic state convention assembled at Emporia. John Martin was nominated by acclamation for governor, but he declined and George W. Glick was placed at the head of the ticket. Frank Bacon was named for lieutenant-governor; Samuel L. Gilbert, for secretary of state; W. L. Brown, for auditor; Charles A. Gifford, for treasurer; Sidney Hayden, for attorney-general; D. E. Lantz, for superintendent of public instruction; J. W. Green, for associate justice; Cyrus A. Leland, John O. Flannigan, M. V. B. Bennett and Samuel N. Wood for Congressmen at large, the last named being placed on the ticket by the state central committee after the adjournment of the convention. The platform adopted was usually long. Its principal features were demands for amendments to the Federal constitution providing for the election of president, vice-president and United States senators by direct vote of the people; making the term of president and vice-president six years, with no eligibility for reëlection; the election of representatives in Congress for four years instead of two; biennial sessions of Congress, and the election of postmaster by the people. Women suffrage, national banks, and monopolies of every kind were opposed, and the resubmission of the prohibitory amendment was advocated.
In the campaign considerable opposition to Gov. St. John developed, not so much on account of his personality or his official acts as because of the third term sentiment. A minority of the delegates to the state convention which nominated him entered a protest against such action as "a violation of the precedents and customs of the party." It is also possible that he lost some votes because of his vigorous support of prohibition, but it is equally possible that this loss was offset by a corresponding gain from the other parties of those who believed in prohibition. At any rate he was defeated at the election in November, when he received but 75,158 votes, to 83,237 for Glick, Robinson, the Greenback candidate, receiving 20,933. All the other candidates on the Republican state ticket were elected by substantial pluralities, as were the seven Republican candidates for Congress. Gov. St. John was succeeded by Gov. Glick on Jan. 8, 1883.Pages 622-630 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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