Going back to the days of the Grange, which was really the starting point of political reform, although they disclaimed any intention of interfering in political affairs (meaning party politics), we find one of the foremost men in the Grange to be Arthur Sharp, who stood by it through all its vicissitudes till it was merged, so to speak, in the Farmers Alliance. He was an unassuming man brought up in the Quaker faith, and in the quiet manner of that people he helped to carry on the affairs of that body to the end of its existence in the county as a separate organization. He was a great reader and a sound thinker, and this combination enabled him to form and to communicate clear views on economic questions, which was the end and aim of the Patrons of Husbandry. They had not yet learned that economics is a very important integer in politics, and that there could he no economic reform without political action. And this was the condition of the Alliance for some years after its formation. When the Greenback party sprang up Mr. Sharp espoused its principles, and was an active worker in its ranks during its existence as a party. So in the Union Labor party, and finally in the People's party, always seeking to better the condition of the laboring classes, and leading them to a higher appreciation of their several callings. He was, and is, also a stanch temperance man and prohibitionist.
When the Greenback party was organized in Crawford county the principal actors in the movement were I. G. Eastwood, Arthur Sharp, E. C. Lynch, E. W. Majors, Dwight Wilder, G. W. Moore, F. H. Dumbauld, Hugh Reid, Ephraim Holt, E. P. Pomeroy, E. R. Ridgely, S. S. Ridgely, and a few others, whose names are not known to the writer. Of these the more worthy of mention here, because of their continued and faithful work in the cause of reform, are Arthur Sharp, already noticed, E. C. Lynch, Dwight Wilder, J. G. Eastwood, F. H. Dumbauld, and E. R. Ridgely, the last of whom has been twice sent to Congress, and has faithfully stood by his colors except when he succumbed to the fusion element in 1902. He has helped to bear aloft the banner of reform ever since it was raised in the county, and is as firm now as ever. While I did not agree with him on the subject of fusion I am willing to accord to him the meed of praise for his faithful adherence to the principles of reform and for the manly ability with which he met his opponents on the rostrum and in the house. But like many others in all the parties he is tired of politics, and is giving his attention to farming and stock raising, and has also shown wisdom in that he has taken to himself a wife to aid him in his newly chosen calling.
J. G. Eastwood has been one of the best and ablest campaigners in the county, and has done efficient service all along the line of political reform, and for his service in the campaign of 1896 the party presented him with a gold headed cane, which, he told the writer, was too fine for every-day use, and was only to be brought out an state occasions. It will probably be laid away as an heirloom to his children and his children's children.
F. H. Dumbauld was a farmer, and as such took a deep interest in ecomic questions, and always took the side of reform. He could not see why men who labored late and early, and who produced all the wealth of the nation, should live in hopeless poverty, while those who never earned an honest dollar should revel in luxury and leave their millions for their children to squander in riotous living. He could not see why ninety per cent of the wealth of the nation should be owned by two per cent of the people, while the other ninety-eight per cent should be put off with only two per cent of the wealth that they themselves had produced. These things he talked to his neighbors instead of going out as a public speaker, in which capacity he doubtless would have failed, and thus, in a quiet way, he did much to aid the cause of reform.
Another of the private but efficient laborers in the reform parties was Dwight Wilder, who, like the man just noticed, never could have succeeded as a public speaker, but who in his own way did good service, and who proved faithful to the end. He was not in the reform movement for office, nor for money, but from principle, and for the good of others as well as himself.
William Lawler, for many years a Republican of undoubted sincerity, was honored by the reporter for the Press as the accoucher at the birth of the People's party at Farlington, in 1890. However this may be, it is certain that he was an active worker in that party from the day of its birth until its untimely death in 1902. In public and in private he ceased not his efforts to make it a success, and if all its adherents had been as faithful and honest as he it might be the controlling party today instead of a thing of the past. His quondam brethren charged that he quit the Republican party for the sake of office, but if this was true he did not fare much better in his new affiliation, as the only emolument he ever enjoyed was an appointment that brought him $600 a year, poor pay for the sacrifice of principles, if he made the sacrifice. Those who knew him never believed this charge. But among all the workers in the cause of reform in Crawford county there was one man whose ability never received proper recognition nor his labor proper appreciation. This man was B. D. Sanderson, now of Greenwood county. He was in every reform party that existed in the county, and was never an idler. Gifted by nature with an easy flow of words, he only lacked an education to make him one of the first orators of the country, and he had a most thorough knowledge of the political history of the country, and of political parties, from the founding of the government till the present time. Notwithstanding his illiteracy there were but few men of any party or any calling that were a match for him in argument, and on account of his illiteracy, he always took them by surprise, as no one who heard him in common conversation would ever suspect that he possessed such a store of political knowledge. In the Grange, in the Alliance, in the Greenback party, and so on down to the People's party, he occupied a prominent place as a public speaker and earnest worker. And he delighted in the work. No night was too dark and no weather too inclement to deter him from meeting an appointment, and no audience was ever disappointed by his failure to put in an appearence. He is now living on a farm in Greenwood county, and although age begins to tell on him, he is still ready at a moment's notice to meet any man that has the temerity to meet him in political controversy.
One more man must claim my attention for a short time. I have already spoken of the bomb thrown into the Republican ranks in 1888 by General Percy Daniels. From that time forward the Republicans of the county had no particular love for him, but at times they dreaded him. His forensic ability did not appear in oral discussion, but where he took his pen he was clear in logic and forcible in diction, and he has so thoroughly studied the one subjecthis tax theorythat no one, so far as I know, has ever been able to meet his arguments or gainsay his positions. In 1892 he was nominated for lieutenant governor by the state convention of the People's party and elected at the November election, in which capacity he served one term, being in the meantime appointed a major general, and put in command of the National Guard of the state. While acting as commander of the state forces he was sent by Governor Lewelling to Pittsburg, where a strike of the miners, and the bringing in of colored miners to take the places of the strikers, well nigh brought on a civil war, and rioting and bloodshed had prevailed for some days. It was expected by some that he would take a partisan view of the situation and be governed in his actions accordingly, and because he did not, but acted as reason and justice dictated, some of the miners turned against him, and at the next state convention his name was left off the ticket. The strike trouble was not the only thing that operated against his re-nomination. His action in the railroad assessment board, and some other things in which he was not in full accord with the party served to lay him on the shelf for the time being, and gave him ample time to cultivate his farm and to continue his work in the graduated tax problem.
General Daniels is one of the best thinkers and ablest reasoners on political-economic questions that the state has in any party. Indeed, he does not tie to any party, but whenever the occasion calls for it he rises above party and seeks "the greatest good to the greatest number." But for this independence of thought and action he might have stood much higher in the party councils, first of the Republican party, and afterwards of the People's party. All admit his honesty and his sound judgment, but his very candor is a drawback to his promotion among men who regard policy above principle.
I do not claim to have given sketches of all in any of the parties that merit a notice in these pages. Some have been omitted on account of the meager knowledge that I had of them, and others because of some flaw in their political careers that would not show to their credit if it should appear. I have tried to be faithful and true to life in all that I have given, and think that I have given enough to give a fair, if not a full, showing of the political history of the county. If my strictures on some of the men seem severe, I assure my readers and the men themselves that I have followed my best judgment "with charity for all and malice toward none." As history, including biography, is made up of many parts, when any of those parts are omitted the history is necessarily incomelete, and where I have given defects in the character of an individual, it is only where it affects their public or political conduct.
And now that I am nearing the conclusion of my task, allow me to say a few things in my own behalf, and I allow my readers and the public to criticise me as severely as I have criticised any whose names appear in these pages. I started out in my political career as a Liberty party man, casting my first vote for President for James G. Birney. When the Free Soil partv[sic] started I went with it till the Republican party arose, and as it declared for "Free Speech, Free Press, Free Trade, Free Schools, Free Soil and Free Men," I entered heartily into its work, and stood by it through all its vicissitudes in peace and war till it showed so much duplicity in this state on the prohibition question, and had acted in such bad faith on several other matters, that I was compelled to leave it for conscience sake, and In 1884 I abandoned it and went with the Prohibitionists till 1890, when I helped to make up the People's party. Here I stood till the days of fusion, when I could stand it no longer, but stood aloof from all parties till 1902, when I divided my vote, giving part to the Prohibition party and part to the fusionists.
This is a very brief synopsis of my political history, as I have always been an active worker in whatever party I affiliated with, and with tongue and pen and vote have always stood for the principles of the party. My course in Crawford county is well known, having published the Western Herald for several years, and I am proud to say that no one who read its columns had to ask, "Where is he at?" And after taking editorial control of the Crawford County Democrat, when asked where I stood politically, I answered in the columns of the paper, "I am a Democrat of the Andrew Jackson type, a Republican of the Abraham Lincoln type, a Greenbacker of the James B. Weaver type, a Populist of the Omaha platform type, a Socialist of a very mild type, and a Prohibitionist of a very strenuous type." And such I am today, especially the last. I acknowledge good in all the parties of the present day; but not enough in any of them to command my implicit support, and hence I claim the right of a rover to go where I please and vote for the men and measures which to me seem most conducive to the public good.
As regards the present work I do not claim any great literary merit for it, for although it has been under contract for several months it has been done in a great hurry and under very unfavorable conditions. Coming to a new place in the woods, without a house to shelter me and my little family, I was compelled to work hard at hard work in order, first, to secure a place of shelter, and next to have some place to write, before I could complete the work. This left me but a few days in which to perform a task that might well have occupied a month. But having lived an active and strenuous life from childhood, and having learned to perform work that most men would shrink from undertaking, I have been able to bear up under this burden also, and I now give it to the public, believing that it is accurate in statement and both just and generous in spirit.
For facts and figures I acknowledge myself indebted to B. D. Sanderson, Percy Daniels, E. R. Ridgely, The History of Kansas, and very largely the files of the Girard Press, kindly furnished me by the editor-in-chief. These parties will please accept my thanks thus publicly tendered, and, as I am a firm believer in the doctrine of reciprocity, I await an opportunity to render them equal service. In the meantime I crave the indulgence of the public for any shortcoming it may find in the work, as it has cost me more time and labor by far than I can hope to receive compensation for, except in the consciousness of having done my best to present them with a faithful "Political History of crawford County, Kans."
|Granniss, Ark., Oct. 31, 1903.|
Pages 93-100 from A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by Peter Caraway and Amanda Hemphill, students at Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, in October, 2002.
| Tom & Carolyn Ward
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project