Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5 v. (lvi, 2731 p., [228] leaves of plates) : ill., maps (some fold.), ports. ; 27 cm.

1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 57 Part 1




Gov. Lyman U. Humphrey


[Copy by Willard of Portrait in Library of Kansas State Historical Society]

Lyman Underwood Humphrey, eleventh governor of Kansas, was born July 25, 1844, at New Baltimore, Stark County, Ohio. He received a common school education, but left high school during his first year there to enlist in the army. On October 7, 1861, he enlisted in Company I, 76th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. This Company was placed in the Army of the Tennessee.

Mr. Humphrey fought in many campaigns of the Civil War, and was promoted to First Lieutenant. He commanded a company during the Atlanta Campaign, and also on the famous march to the sea. He was wounded during his service. He was mustered out, after serving nearly four years, on the 9th of July, 1865. So, he was a seasoned veteran before his twenty-first birthday.

After leaving the army, Mr. Humphrey attended Mount Union College for one term, and afterward spent a year in the law department of the Michigan University. After receiving his diploma he went to Shelby County, Missouri, where he taught school, and helped publish the Shelby County Herald.

In 1871 he came, with his mother and brother, to Independence, Kansas, and there established the Independence Tribune. Two years later he took up the practice of law, and acquired a large patronage.

On December 25, 1872, he married Miss Amanda Leonard, of Beardstown, Illinois. Two sons were born to them.

Mr. Humphrey was a staunch Republican, and was elected by that party to the Legislature of 1876. In 1877 he was elected to fill out the unexpired term of Lieutenant-Governor, and at the end of that time was elected for a full term of two years. He presided over the Senate of 1879.

He was elected to the State Senate of 1884, and was chosen President of that body. In this session he introduced the resolution to strike out the word "white" from the constitutional provision relating to the state Militia. In 1888, he was elected Governor of Kansas, and began his service in 1889. He was re-elected in 1890.

The manufacture of sugar from sorghum was the industry attracting the greatest notice in Kansas in 1889. Several factories had been erected, experiments were conducted by government chemists, and public attention in Kansas centered on sugar. The Legislature of 1889 passed an act increasing the bounty on Kansas sugar from $15,000 to $40,000. But the result of the experiments were discouraging, as it was found that sugar could not be manufactured at a profit by "Roller" process. The "Diffusion" process promised better results, but in spite of that, the sugar industry in Kansas did not make the advance it had promised.

However, the salt industry flourished. Fine clean salt deposits of great depth encouraged the establishment of large plants at Hutchinson, Lyons, Great Bend, and many other towns.

The year 1889 was also famous for producing the greatest corn crop in the annals of the State.

As growing trade and agriculture demanded a deep-water harbor for the products of Western and Southern States, Governor Humphrey called a convention of delegates from these States to meet in Topeka to discuss the matter. Six hundred men, among them many of prominence, attended this Deep-Harbor Convention. The meetings were presided over by Senator Plumb. This convention was successful in securing Congressional aid for the work.

In 1889 Congress opened up Oklahoma to settlers. On a part of the Cherokee reservation - a strip of land sixty miles wide, laying between Kansas and Old Oklahoma - forty thousand people were waiting for the opening. Everything was ready - town sites selected, land offices open, the capitol of the new land located, and named. At noon on April 22, the land was formally opened, and the mass of humanity entered. It has been estimated that Kansas lost over fifty thousand people at this time.

During this administration, the anti-Prohibitionists made much trouble in Kansas. They declared no State had the power to prevent liquors, in their original sealed packages, being brought within its border. Saloons sprang up over the state. Citizens protested, even sending liquor back, and stopping the sale by force. At last Congress was appealed to, and the Wilson Bill, or the "anti-Original Package law," passed. This bill gave a state the right to exercise police regulations over all packages sent within its borders, whether the packages were in their original form or not.

In 1889 the Farmers Alliance became an active political force. The tendencies of the Alliance were socialistic. The Alliance charged that the government oppressed the working man, permitted unjust discrimination for the benefit of corporations, gave undue protection and privilege to capital, and was responsible for other abuses. They demanded redress for their wrongs - exemption from too much taxation, mortgage and debt, and no unjust discrimination between rich and poor.

At a convention called at Topeka, June 12, 1890, the Alliance organized, together with the Industrial Union, the Patrons of Husbandry, the Knights of Labor, the Farmers Mutual Benefit Association, and the Single Tax Club, into a new party known as the People's or Populist Party. In the election of 1890, four tickets were in the field, the Republican, headed by Governor Humphrey, the Democratic, by Charles Robinson, the Populist, by John F. Willets, and the Prohibitionists, by a Mr. Richardson, The Republicans won the Governorship, but the Populists elected a majority of the Legislature.

William A. Peffer was elected United States Senator by this Legislature. It also passed an act providing for the promotion of irrigation, and another providing for an eight-hour day for all State employees. The first Monday in September was declared a legal holiday - Labor Day. Provision was also made for submitting amendments to the constitution.

To continue work on the State-House $60,000 was appropriated. Appropriations in the interest of agriculture were made by this Legislature.

The population of Kansas had increased steadily, and grew more prosperous. One band of settlers from Russia sent back to their native land $10,000, and an offer to bring over three hundred emigrants. This is only an instance of the general prosperity that had come to the settlers of Kansas.

On December 20, 1891, Senator Preston B. Plumb, United States Senator from Kansas, died, and Governor Humphrey appointed Hon. Bishop W. Perkins to fill out his unexpired term.

After retiring from the governership, Mr. Humphrey resumed the practice of law. In 1892 he was defeated for Congress, as the Republican candidate in his District.

Governor Humphrey died at Independence, Kansas, September 12, 1915, at the age of seventy-one years.

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A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans , written and compiled by William E. Connelley, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, 1998.