1888 Kansas Republican Convention

Lyman Underwood Humphrey would defeat a strong field of candidates, including D.R. Anthony, to become the Republican nominee, and eventual 11th Governor of Kansas. The field he faced contained both politicians, and men of more humble backgrounds. Being a Farmer was considered advantageous, and appealing to voters. However, the most critical thing for a viable Republican candidate was to have served in the Union military during the Civil War. More than one newspaper pointed out that every candidate had faithfully served. (Image courtesy, wikipedia)

In the 1888 race for the Republican nomination for Governor of Kansas, Anthony’s chief opponents included veteran Kansas politicians A.W. Smith, Lyman U. Humphrey, and George T. Anthony. The last of these was Daniel Anthony’s own cousin, and himself ex-Governor. They may have been family, but there was no love lost between the two. Anthony made some efforts at campaigning, mainly through the influence of his friends such as Morrill and Beck, as well as Kansas Senator John Ingalls. He also paid visits to newspapers, such as the Kansas City (Kansas) Gazette, and delivered speeches at events like that held in Junction City on May 2nd. By the end of May, Anthony appeared to be in third place, based on those delegates whose choices had already been announced.

The convention was held in Topeka, opening on July 25th. That day, after arriving at the Copeland hotel, the longtime rivalry between cousins Daniel and George Anthony produced what must have been the single most talked about incident of the day. The cousins arrived at nearly the same time, and while George Anthony was inside the hotel shaking hands, a passel of his cousin’s supporters from Leavenworth gathered outside. A cry went up went up for “Anthony” but, the cheering throng neglected to specify which one they would have. The Wichita Eagle describes what happened next:

 “when the cry for “Anthony” went up there arose a sort of half perplexed, wholly pleased expression settled on [George Anthony’s] face and with a hasty apology he withdrew to ascertain the meaning of the call. As he passed through the main entrance under the front balcony of the hotel his ears were ravished by the dulcet tones of his hated cousin, who had just uttered the words ‘citizens of my home, I thank you for this wholly unexpected and distinguished honor.’ An expression of unmistakable rage supplanted that…on the governors face, and he hastily returned to the hotel…the cousins met afterwords in the hotel corridor, but they never spoke as they passed by.”

Surname-based confusion aside, the primary storyline of the rest of the convention was the dominance of Lyman Humphrey. The first ballot was the closest, with Humphrey outpacing Smith by about thirty votes. Anthony collected 27 votes, placing 7th. He was 6th in the second ballot, before falling several places in the third and final ballot, in which Humphrey finally swept away the competition. Despite the fact that he was never a contender, Anthony must have taken some satisfaction in faring better than his cousin, who never received more than 2 votes from the delegates.

The Copeland hotel in Topeka was the site of the 1888 Republican State Convention. This image was taken after the grand old hotel suffered a devastating fire in January of 1909. Note the spectators close to the building and horse-drawn fire wagons. (Courtesy, Kansas Memory)

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“Let the other farmers look out”

Moses Milton Beck, editor of the Holton Recorder. Anthony would write to his friend several times expressing his earnest desire to win the Republican nomination for Governor, in what he believed was his last opportunity.  (Courtesy, Kansas Press Association)

Moses Milton Beck, editor of the Holton Recorder. Anthony would write to his friend several times expressing his earnest desire to win the Republican nomination for Governor, in what he believed was his last opportunity. (Courtesy, Kansas Press Association)

“I think I shall take my chances. I do not propose to make and aggressive canvas, and will not fight any candidate. They are all good men…I would consider it a great honor.” (Gaylord Herald, reprinted in Leavenworth Times, March 25, 1888) So said D.R. Anthony when asked about his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Governor of Kansas. By early 1888, at the age of 63, Anthony had bowed out of an active role with the Leavenworth Times. Since then, as the Kansas City Journal put it, “he has devoted his attention to his farm and those agricultural pursuits which are so congenial and even necessary to statesmen in Kansas.” He may have been enjoying life as a farmer, but Kansas politics was an arena in which he had already thrived; he had been mayor and postmaster of Leavenworth at various points, run for governor in 1878, and fought countless political battles as boss of the Times. Along the way he made friends and enemies in equal measure. Reactions to his candidacy from Republican newspapers across the state strike a familiar tune. One called him “cold poison”, another declared “No Truer Man Could be Selected.” The Gueda Springs Herald suggested, perhaps with tongue in cheek, that his sister, “the noblest Anthony of them all”, was the best candidate. Perhaps the Lawrence Tribune put it best: “no man in Kansas is better known than Mr. Anthony, and, if he should fail to secure the nomination it will not be because no one ever head of him”

According to Anthony, Congressman Edmund N. Morrill wrote to him offering to "speak a good word for you for governor, in our district or any where else in the state...I am entirely free from any entangleing [sic] alliances...I will write to my friends...in the district, urging them to support you." With such powerful friends, Anthony was in a good position.

According to Anthony, Congressman Edmund N. Morrill wrote to him offering to “speak a good word for you for governor, in our district or any where else in the state…I am entirely free from any entangleing [sic] alliances…I will write to my friends…in the district, urging them to support you.” (Anthony to M.M Beck, April 14, 1888) (Image courtesy, Wikipedia)

Anthony, for his part, insisted publicly that he was not going to campaign hard, but that if the people of Kansas wanted him, he would gladly accept the nomination. Privately however, this race may have meant quite a bit more to him than he let on. “My nomination must come now or never” he wrote to his friend and editor of the Holton Recorder, Moses M. Beck, “63 years…in this world and if I ever had a chance it is now” In his letters to Beck he expressed optimism that he could achieve his goal; “my county will give a solid delegation for me…promises of support all over the state have come, enough to give me a respectable support, and give me a chance after the first two or three ballots.” (Letter to M.M. Beck, March 22, 1888) By April, Anthony had reason for optimism; on April 20th, he wrote to Beck “of thirty five (delegates) already chosen, more than half of them are for me.” Furthermore, he had received support from some of the leading politicians in Kansas, including Congressman Edmund Morrill (left), who represented Kansas’ 1st District in Washington.

In studying D.R. Anthony, one of the traits that stands out about him is his ambition, and his willingness to gamble on himself. For better or worse, he never did anything halfway, which makes his public insistence that he would not actively seek the Governorship all the more odd. By 1888 he was known across the state for his combativeness, and his quiet entrance into the race was likely a tactical move to keep from ruffling too many feathers. Anthony wanted to be governor of Kansas very badly, an achievement that would put the exclamation point on his life. With the convention set for July 25th, in Topeka, he would soon have his chance.


M.M Beck Collection. Letters. Manuscripts. Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas

Leavenworth Times, March 25, 1888. www.newspapers.com


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Recipe for a Successful Newspaper

The Leavenworth Times was introduced on March 7th, 1857, available for area citizens at $2 per year. In its very first issue, editor Robert Crozier (a future Senator from Kansas) declared his paper opposed to “all measures and efforts to procure the admission of Kansas to the Union as a slave state.” It is fitting that the Times would be purchased in 1871 by Daniel Read Anthony, one of Kansas’ strongest free state advocates. Anthony, then 47, had worked at other newspapers. His first, the Leavenworth Conservative, was a joint effort with his friend D.W. Wilder. With Anthony as publisher and Wilder as Editor, the Conservative earned a reputation for radical abolitionist Republican views. Anthony also bought the Leavenworth Bulletin in 1864, but it was his purchase of the Times that made him the leading newsman in Leavenworth. The Slavery question had been answered, but under his guidance, the Times fought for other radical causes, including his sister’s Womens Suffrage movement.

Reproduced below is a list of rules Anthony set out for his employees. They offer insight into the workings of a typical frontier newspaper and Anthony’s style of leadership and discipline.

Times Office Rules

Note the emphasis placed on a quiet, orderly workplace. Perhaps Anthony learned his style of discipline working in his father’s mills? (Courtesy, Kansas State Historical Society)

A Compositor’s stick loaded with type (Courtesy, Wikimedia Commons)

When Anthony bought the Times, newspapers were crafted by painstakingly setting metal letters (known as type) into composing sticks to form words, sentences, and paragraphs. The entire paper was built by a team of workers known as “compositors.” The resulting “bed” of type would then be put in the press, inked, and have paper applied to it. Looking at Rule # 2, we can see a newspaper compositor’s workday was not a 9:00 – 5 affair. Anthony’s final rule stipulated that the paper “go to press” at 3:00 AM.

Operating a successful newspaper on the American frontier was a complex job; dozens of man hours were required to print a single issue, and it took an attentive leader like Anthony to make things run smoothly. That said, the news was a growth industry because people craved information. According to the Library of Congress, in 1870 Leavenworth citizens enjoyed over a dozen newspapers, many with separate weekly, daily, or evening editions. It was the Frontier version of the 24-hour news cycle. Of those, only the Times remains, due in large part to the leadership of Daniel Read Anthony and his heirs, who maintained control of the paper into the 1960s.


Kansas State Historical Society

Kansas Newspapers, www.kansasnewspapers.org

Chronicling America, www.chroniclingamerica.loc.gov

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