Notes from a quiet street  2017-I

(Miscellaneous musings of more than 140 characters, usually, but not enough words to be fully blogicious.)

We found ourselves wandering through an otherwise unoccupied mind one recent day when ice or the threat of ice was limiting more fruitful occupations or ambitions.

An observation after two years of retirement:  If you put on slippers instead of shoes when you get dressed in the morning, the chances are above average that you will not step outside your house more than three times during the day and you will stay outside no more than two minutes each time.  One of the trips will be to get the morning paper. Another will be to get the mail.

We are reminded of the closing lines of the movie “Patton,” a quote from the general read by George C. Scott:  “For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”

NASCAR sent us a note the other day that now is the time to load up on 2017 driver merchandise—everything from baby clothes to pull-along coolers with your favorite driver’s colors and numbers.  We thought it would be interesting to look at Carl Edwards’ stuff, which went from merchandise to memorabilia pretty fast.  Hats and t-shirts are about ten to twenty dollars off.  Jackets are forty dollars off.  And so it went with other items that became examples of the truth of Patton’s remark that “all glory is fleeting.”  Superstar today, clearance table tomorrow.  Such is life.

We were headed to Nevada, in southwest Missouri, a few weeks ago to deliver a couple of copies of our Capitol art book to Cavender’s Book Store when we came upon a large crowd of black birds somewhere near Preston clearing the road of remnants of an unfortunate creature, bite by bite.  As we neared them, the birds all took frantic flight—except for one, a much bigger bird that seemed to just spread its wings and gracefully elevate. As he lifted off, I spotted the large fan of white tail feathers and then a white head.  I swear he looked back over his shoulder, perhaps to see if my car did any damage to his snack. It’s kind of a gruesome story, I suppose.  But I’ll remember the Eagle I saw a few days before Christmas long after I’ve forgotten the rest of the long trip on a chilly, rainy, December day or even Christmas itself.

Our state has a new chemistry set in an old box.  About one-fourth of the members of the Missouri House are brand new.  The governor, as we have noted several times, is fresh to the world of political office-holding.  Five of our six top state officeholders are new to those offices.  The chemistry in our Capitol is entirely different.  It’s going to be interesting to see how the elements mix.

More than a dozen years ago, someone suggested the Missourinet start using Twitter.  The example of Twitter that was given to us was a series of twits, tweets, toots—whatever they are (perhaps depending on the sender)—from a former colleague who was telling the world he was at an airport, then that he was waiting to board his plane, then that he was in his seat, then that he was waiting to take off.  We all thought Twitter was silly and superficial, an attitude borne out a few weeks later when another friend send a message that she was on her way home from work but had to stop at a store to get a sump pump.  Your observer started calling Twitter, “The Theatre of the Inane.”

Well——?

—-

We are reminded by all the discussion about punitive tariffs on American-company vehicles made in and imported from other countries of a talk we had a long time ago with Kenneth Rothman, a two-term Speaker of the House who was Missouri’s first Jewish statewide elected official, Lieutenant Governor, 1981-1985.  He bought a little farm near Jefferson City during those years and wanted to get a little American-made pickup truck to use out there.  But he learned Ford’s compact pickup was made by Mazda; Chevrolet’s little truck was made by Isuzu, and Dodge’s compact truck was made by Mitsubishi.  He finally found an American-made small pickup truck that was manufactured in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania.  A Volkswagen.

We have friends who flee to Arizona and Florida during these months. We pity them for the loss of their sense of adventure.

121 characters.  Including spaces.

 

Speaking of—

Speeches

Speechifying is an important element in starting a new legislative session and getting a new governor in place.  Making speeches at the start of things is always the easiest part of the job.  Hope is always its highest in the early hours or days of service in the pressure cooker we call the public arena.  High hopes often are worn down by the grit of real life and the grinder of competing ideas.  Noble words printed at the start often become nostalgic yearnings at the end.   But let’s talk about the optimism of talk when things are new in Missouri government, beginning with the opening day remarks from legislative leaders and then doing a reprise of an outsider’s warnings and pledges on his inauguration day.

Senate President pro Tem Ron Richard has started his second, and final, term as leader of the state senate.  He’s the only man in state history to lead both chambers of the legislature. Nobody will ever accuse him of being a political windbag.  There sometimes would be pauses during our news conferences while reporters waited for a second sentence. It was kind of fun.

His opening was pure Richard: “I know it’s a tradition that the new President Pro-Tem gives a big speech on the first day and sets the agenda. But I’m not big on long, windy speeches.”

Richard believes the words “Senator,” and “Senate” have values that deserve more respect than they sometimes get from his fellow senators.  “What we do here matters and how we do it matters,” he told his colleagues. “Why is it that Missourians—who are not unnecessarily extravagant people—decided more than one hundred years ago to build such a wonderful capitol?…I think Missourians then—and Missourians now—want us to feel the weight of what we do here.”

He urged his colleagues to pledge to teach other to “conduct the business of the Senate in a way that rises to the grandeur of the great state of Missouri.”  He spoke at length of history and the hope that “we are remembered for respecting the institution of the Senate and each other; for restoring civility to the chamber; and that we were able to be passionate about our convictions without being combative with one another.”

In the House, Speaker Todd Richardson—starting his second term in that job—spoke at greater length and did lay out the majority party’s agenda.  But he cautioned members of his own supermajority party not to overplay their power.  “With this greater power comes even greater responsibility—a responsibility to make this legislative process deliberative.  That means we must respect the voices and viewpoints of every Missourian…Inevitably we are going to disagree, both in our caucuses and across the aisle.  This is the people’s House and we are a body that is supposed to have spirited discussion, but those discussions and that disagreement should stay professional and mindful of our fellow legislators, and the constituents we serve.”

He pointed to several economic and societal changes in which he felt Missouri was lagging behind as he discussed the Republican agenda for the session. “Government does not create jobs,” he said. “Real people do. Government’s role is to lay a stable foundation upon which entrepreneurs and hard-working Missourians can do the job-creating.”  Minority Democrats already have served notice that they’ll noisily oppose Right to Work, don’t much like Republican tort reform ideas, charter school and private school voucher programs, right to life and LGBT positions, and the like. There’s general agreement on strengthening lobbyist controls including a ban on gifts to elected officials.   Richardson says the gift ban will be the first bill out of the House this year. He called for an end to “half measures” and a commitment to “bold action.”

Governor Greitens’ inaugural speech fit into those themes. He cited history and the character that it has built for our state and that binds all of us together.  But, he noted, that does not mean we have to agree with one another.  “Sometimes the purpose of our opponents is to be our teachers,” he said. Further, “Even as we fight for our convictions, we resolve that the greatest conviction is to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

But, he said, “I come as an outsider, to do the people’s work.”  He promised to be tough on crime and to be resistant to special influence.  He mentioned, as others before him have mentioned, that government cannot fix every problem, that people carry a heavy responsibility as citizens to care for one another and to take advantage of opportunities government provides.  “Let’s get to work,” he said at the end.

Three speeches.  Three venues.  Common themes in the beginning days of the legislature and of an administration.

Another thing Senator Richard said in his brief remarks added realism to the next few months. “We’re human, and we make mistakes, especially in the passion of the moment…How will history remember us?”

The way history remembers the participants in this annual drama will be determined in the next four months or four years.  One thing is sure:  They will make history.

Wrapping up the 2017 inauguration

Governor Greitens has been in office for a week.  We’ve had time to absorb and assess the events of his big day last Monday and assemble a postscript of sorts to our long series about inauguration history to bring that series up to date and for reference by those who want to add to it for inauguration 2021:

Eric Greitens, the first governor of Missouri without previous elective office experience since Lloyd C. Stark eighty years previously, was inaugurated on an overcast blustery day with the temperature in the upper thirties and gusty winds that sometimes drove the wind chill index into single digits.  The sun fought its way through the clouds early in the afternoon and warmed the then-empty Capitol south lawn into the forties.  

Some different things were done by a governor who had promised in his campaign, and in his inaugural remarks that he would be a different kind of governor.  There was no parade.  None had been scheduled.  It had been twenty years since there had been no parade. Governor Carnahan called off the 1997 parade and was inaugurated for his second term in the rotunda because of the severe cold. Governor Teasdale had cancelled his inaugural parade because of even more severe weather in 1977 although he held his ceremonies outside. Greitens said in 2017 the parade focused on politicians and he wanted his event to focus on people. Ceremony organizers said there wasn’t time to hold one because the incoming governor had as busy morning schedule that began with an interfaith prayer service across the street from the capitol at St. Peter Catholic Church.  A reception in the rotunda, called Honoring Our Heroes, recognized about 150 teachers, law enforcement officers, veterans, farmers, and families of the fallen. They also had a special spot on the inaugural platform.  After the swearing-in ceremonies, the new governor, as Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard, reviewed the troops—something not done in previous memory of these events.  

The swearing-in ceremony had an emcee for the first time in memory who was not a legislative leader—Rodney Bullard, the Executive Director of the Chick-fil-A foundation, a personal friend of Greitens.  Although Senate President pro tem Ron Richard convened the joint session of the House and the Senate, and concluded the event with the adjournment of the session, Bullard handled all of the introductions. 

The other constitutional office-holders elected in November were sworn in ahead of the new governor (long ago, they were sworn in afterwards), including Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson, who had had bypass heart surgery just before Christmas. The National Guard Band from Springfield played a couple of numbers to fill the time between the inauguration of the Lieutenant Governor and the high noon inauguration of the Governor.  Everything seemed to be on time for a change. 

As Greitens completed his oath, a B-2 Bomber flew over the crowd, flying from east to west. 

Christopher Bond, Missouri’s oldest living former governor, was among those in attendance.

Security was tight.  This reporter went through three separate wandings before the ceremony.  The day after the event, metal detectors were in operation inside the building at two location. 

Greitens’ inaugural address grew out of his military background, his interest in history, and his previous lack of involvement in politics.  He promised to be a governor of the people, not of the political system, urged his fellow Republicans in overwhelming control of the legislature to listen to the other side (“Sometimes the purpose of our opponents is to be our teachers”) and concluded, “Let’s get to work.”  

—which he did when he went into the governor’s office as the person in charge of it for the first time.  He signed an executive order banning gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the executive branch of government. 

About that same time, private citizen Jay Nixon and the state’s former first lady drove to their home in St. Louis County.

(Photo credits:  Your faithful observer)

The senator, the judge, the Boss, and the Quail

Time is running short this year for people who like to kill one of our state symbols.  The 2016-17 quail season ends soon—January 15, Sunday.  The legislature declared the Bobwhite Quail our official state game bird in 2007.  We watched the debates that resulted from a project to teach elementary school students how the legislature works by getting the legislature to establish a new state symbol.  But none of the debaters mentioned the greatest tribute ever paid on the Senate floor to the quail.

The speech also has some historical threads that involve one of the unique gubernatorial elections in state history, a scandal, and creation of an important state agency.  When you’ve finished reading the tribute to the quail we’ll tell you the additional history that goes with it.

State Senator Francis M. Wilson, an avid quail hunter from Platte County, stood in the Senate March 7, 1911 to support his bill preventing the killing of quail until December, 1914 because the bird numbers had dropped so much.  He argued that the prairie chicken and the wild turkey had almost been exterminated in Missouri and quail were on the verge.  He said the state game and fish warden was trying to stock the state with Hungarian Partridges, which look like quail.  He said those birds plus the rapid multiplication of protected quail would be a service to farmers and would become numerous enough to allow quail hunting to resume. Observers said he convinced a previously hostile senate to pass the bill. His colleagues were so impressed that Wilson was asked to reduce his remarks to writing so they could be printed in the Senate Journal.  He spoke off the cuff but wrote down his recollections of what he said. If you’re an avid quail hunter, you might find this century-old tribute to the official state game bird of some interest. If you’re not, we invite you to look at an example of what was then called “spread-eagle oratory.”  Yes, we note the juxtaposition of eagle and quail.

The quail is among the most ancient of game birds. In some form, differing in habits and appearance, either gay with the plumage of sunny climes, or grave with the subdued colors of cheerless landscapes, it has been found throughout the world.

If we search for its origin it is obscured in the mists of antiquity. The Bible tells us of the Almighty furnishing this toothsome bird to nourish and strengthen the Israelites during their wanderings in the wilderness. In all ages it has given the historian his brightest glimpse of bird life, and the poet inspiration for his sweetest song. The name given this royal bird differs with the locality and folk-lore of the people, but throughout the eastern states, from the pineries of Maine to the flowery fields of Florida and westward to the foothills of the mountains, it is known as “Bob White”—the true name adopted by all ornithologists. And so it is for the protection and preservation of this messenger of civilization, proud aristocrat of farm and field and orchard that I press this measure upon the Senate. Senators from favored sections of the State, where these birds are fairly plentiful, argue that to enact such a law would be unjust to their constituents. In this I find no comfort for them, but on the contrary one of the strongest arguments favoring the passage of the bill. History repeats itself. Within the memory of many of my distinguished colleagues, the princely domain which I represent was indeed a “hunters’ paradise.” Deer broke covert from every brake; wild pigeons clouded the sun as vast flocks passed from feeding to roosting places; wild turkeys in almost countless numbers were everywhere; prairie chickens abode with us in contentment; wild geese—harbingers of coming fall and spring—covered the sandbars of our rivers, or on mighty wing rushed through the air, but,

“There is a Power whose care Teaches thy way along that pathless coast, The desert and illimitable air, Lone wandering, but not lost.”

 

But how sad the change. How sorrowful the retrospect. In secluded places, scattered far and wide over a limited section of our State, the deer are making their last gallant stand; wild pigeons live only in the glorious traditions of our great Commonwealth; the prairie chicken is now rara avis, and the wild goose calls in alarm his scattered few, as high above its would-be murderers, they cleave the blue of kindly skies as they hasten to the few asylums in the far away Southland, or in the frozen regions of the north. It has been given to me to witness the almost incredible destruction of this valuable game—not at the hands of true sportsmen, for they have long waged unequal battle to stay the wholesale and inexcusable slaughter—but to satisfy the inordinate greed of the “game hog,” and his foster brother, the “pot-hunter,” who slew and still slay merely that they may boast of their prowess with the gun, and to furnish a precarious living for the market hunter who stains himself with the butchery of these gentle creatures our Creator gave as a blessing. Senators, what is true of my section of the State will be in a few years the sad story you will have to tell of man’s inhumanity to game life. It will then be everlastingly too late to repine. “The moving finger writes; and having writ, moves on; nor all your piety, nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all your tears wash out a word of it.”

What a splendid fight Bob White is making against the combined hosts of his enemies, and what a fine battle the farmers of my district are waging to save him from extinction. None know better than the farmer and the orchardist the incalculable benefit he is to field, garden and orchard. From “early morn ’till dewy eve,” bright of eye and swift of leg, the Bob Whites are busy with the destruction of noxious insects and weed pests. He is not regarded as a trespasser, but is entertained as a royal guest, whose stay we would have indefinitely prolonged. True, it has taken science a long time to discover what our agriculturists have always known about the value of this bird as his chief assistant among the feathered tribe, but it is now proclaiming its manifold virtues.

It is officially recorded that examination of many hundreds of the stomachs and crops of these birds disclose them crowded with the seeds of noxious and troublesome weeds, his diet for almost half the year. Upon this a Government report, says: “It is reasonable to suppose that in the states of Virginia and North Carolina from September 1 to April 30, there are four Bob Whites to each square mile of land, or 354,820 in the two states. The crop of each bird is filled twice a day and holds half an ounce of seed. Since at each of the two daily meals, weed seeds constitute at least half the contents of the crop, or one-fourth of an ounce, a half ounce daily is consumed by each bird. On this basis, the total amount of weed seeds consumed by Bob Whites from September 1 to April 30, in Virginia and North Carolina alone amounts to 1,341 tons.” May I inquire what the harvest of weeds would have been had each of these seeds produced? Does not this plead trumpet-tongued in his defense? But this is not all science teaches of the aid this bird is giving- those who toil that we may live. Where insects abound, Bob White plays no favorites in his labors of extermination. Alike he wars upon the chinch bug, the grasshopper, the potato bug, the cotton-boll-weevil, the codling moth and other devastating bugs of forest, field and orchard. In a letter to the Department of Agriculture, touching the voracious appetite of this bird for such pests, a gentleman from Kansas writes: “On opening the crop, we found about two tablespoonfuls of chinch bugs,” and when a further consultation of authorities disclose that this bug has cost the farmers at least 100 millions of dollars per year, you may well stand aghast at the formidable array of facts and figures—which admit of no dispute—that Bob White, above all his feather brothers, is entitled to the proud name of the Farmer’s Friend.

It is not alone as an assistant that this bird is so firmly fixed in the affections of the farmer. Incense to its many other virtues rise from countless happy homes all over the land. Rich in sentiment, with ear atune to nature’s symphonies, the farmer revels in the music Bob White contributes to the melody of the Almighty’s musicians. No bright tinted troubadour of the air, flashing here and there like a thing of light, his gorgeous breast almost bursting with rich excess of song, charms him from the seductive call of his best-loved bird friend. Spring has Come. Here and there the brown patches of earth again become the nursery of tender grasses and modest flowers, and all nature is yielding to the annual miracle which heals the scars on winter’s grave with the sweet assurance that we too shall live again. From afar, soft as the mellow tones of a flute, its sharp, staccato whistle, changed by the witchery of the season into the coy notes of love’s first story, comes Bob White! Ah! Bob White. Again the music of his soul changes. The shy wooer of the demure little lady nearby, becomes bold as a knight errant, and as his ardor and jealousy keep pace, from stump, or rail or broken thicket branch or wherever her eyes, kindling with the fires of coming allegiance will fall upon his knightly bearing, or ears hear his ardent protestations, again the call, but now the ringing challenge of the mail-clad warrior ready to do battle in the lists for his lady love. The theater of his song changes again with the coming of June, life’s time of thrift. The earth riots in the blazonry of bloom. The covenants of spring have been redeemed and summer sings of the fatness of field and vine in the coming autumn. While the dew is yet wet on the green of the leaves and gold of the flowers, Bob White banishes sleep with his insistent call, Wheat’s ripe! Wheat’s ripe! His faithful mate is not far. In some neglected spot, where security is found, she is busy with the duties of maternity and again his chuckling notes, All’s well! All’s well! as from “The orchard, the meadow, the deep tangled wild-wood” he gives full throated utterance of his ecstatic joy. What is more charming to the ear than the music of the quail, wafted from wheat shocks as the rays of the rising sun turn from orange to gold the “beauty of the valleys and the glory of the hills?” It surpasses the ripple of the brook, which poets say is nature’s grandest melody. The tenderest memories of my boyhood days are linked with hazy summer, when the air was freighted with the perfume of flowers, fruits and berries and the cheery whistle of Bob White rang through the old orchard. Through the years come hymns of happy reapers, singing in seas of shimmering grain, the sound of bells, tinkling the way of homeward plodding herds, the voices of harvest toilers chanting the dirge of dying day and mingling with it all Bob White’s musical farewell as failing light slips down the cloud-isles of the sunset.

“Dies the day, and from afar away, Under the evening stars, Dies the echo as dies the day, Droops with the dew in the new-mown hay, Sinks and sleeps in the scent of the May, Dreamily, faint and far.”

Mr. President! I am a devotee of the rod and gun, and from the standpoint of a true sportsman—which I claim to be—my pulse always beats quick when I behold that seed time has passed, and the fruitage of the earth has come to its own. “Magnificent Autumn! He comes not like a pilgrim clad in russet weed; he comes not like a hermit clad in gray; but he come like a warrior with the stain of blood upon his brazen mail. His crimson scarf is rent His scarlet banner drips with gore.” The call “Bob White” is silent, but from stubble, pasture, tangled copse and corn fields, standing rank on rank like Huzzars in their uniforms of gold and silver, we hear his peculiar covey call. It falls upon the impatient ear of the sportsman with unmeasured delight. Tired of the grind of the busy mill of business, the weary sentinels of his brain give warning that it is only the wine of nature which quickens the sluggish blood, brings new light to careworn eyes, and paints the pallid cheek with the ruddy glow of health. As he fills his pockets with shells, his faithful dog leaps about him, eager to match his gift of nose with the cunning of this winsome bird. The east is crimsoning with the coming of a perfect day. The Frost King has scattered his jewels with lavish hand, and from bough and twig and stiffened blade of grass, like diamonds in the corona of Queens, they glow and flash with many colored fires as they herald the growing glory of the sun. Bob White is ready for gun and dog in the perfection of limb and wing, feeling assured that if these fail his mimicry of plumage with his surroundings may defeat the “tainted gale” as pointer or setter ranges far and wide o’er the scented heather in its search. But not so. There is a stiffening of the muscles; like an exquisitely carved statue, the dog “stands.” There is a whirr of wings and the air is full of smoke. Again the quest is taken up, and so through the hours of the too short day, over hill and plain—with few birds perhaps—but with renewed health and strength, the weary hunter turns homeward. The day is done. Lights appear as he draws near home. Loved ones run to meet him at the gate, their faces shining with expectant hope as they inquire, How are you! What luck! As he turns to enter man’s only asylum of perfect rest, there comes faintly the covey call again, as

“Shrill and shy from the dusk they cry, Faintly from over the hill; Out of the gray where shadows lie, Out of the gold where sheaves are high, Covey to covey, call and reply, Plaintively, shy and shrill.”

After this speech, which some felt equal to George Graham Vest’s “Eulogy on a Dog,” the Senate passed the bill but the House defeated it, assuring an uncertain future for the quail.

Now, here’s more of the story.

Francis M. Wilson, the son of a congressman, and known in his time as the Red-Headed Peckerwood from Platte County, was elected to the state senate in 1899 to fill a vacancy.  He lost a race for Congress in 1904 but was elected back to the state senate in 1908 and was re-elected twice.  He resigned from the senate to become the federal prosecuting attorney for the western district of Missouri, a position he held until 1920.  He lost the Democratic nomination for governor in 1928 but with the strong support of Kansas City political boss Tom Pendergast, won his primary in 1932 and seemed to be a lock to become governor. Truman biographer David McCullough calls him “a freckled, old-fashioned Missouri stump speaker who excelled at charming country crowds with his poetic tributes to the natural splendors of their beloved state.” He had suffered from bleeding ulcers for some time and one morning about three weeks before the election, he complained of feeling poorly and died a short time later. McCullough says that when someone suggested an undertaker be called, Mrs. Wilson refused to allow it until Pendergast was notified. When Pendergast arrived, he immediately asked the family if they favored someone to replace Wilson on the ticket.  Guy B. Park, they said.  “Who the hell is Guy Park?” asked Pendergast—in McCullough’s telling of the story.  Four hours later, Pendergast called back and said it was okay to call a mortician.  Guy B. Park had agreed to run. He was elected by a large margin and remained such a Pendergast ally that the Executive Mansion sometimes was called “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Park appointed a new state Game and Fish Commissioner, Wilbur Buford, who noted at the end of his first year that there had been a complete turnover of employees, all patronage hires, a situation that was of increasing concern for Missouri outdoorsmen.  Their concerns led to the formation of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, which promptly began circulating petitions to establish a state conservation department isolated from political patronage. Voters approved the plan in Park’s last year in office, a quarter-century after Wilson’s tribute, the same year they elected Lloyd C. Stark as the new governor.

Stark also had Pendergast support but turned on the Boss and started helping the federal prosecutors build a case against him and the state insurance superintendent who had conspired in a massive fraud case. Stark had another motive—to weaken Pendergast support for Senator Harry Truman because Stark wanted to run against Truman in 1940. In the summer of 1937, Stark appointed the first four conservation commissioners: Buford, Columbia businessman E. W. Stephens, State Planning Commission member Albert Greensfelder of St. Louis, and Missouri Ruralist editor John F. Case.  Stephens, who had headed the commission that supervised construction of the Capitol, became the first chairman of the new commission.

And with that, the quail that Francis M. Wilson so loved gained the guardian they needed and an agency that makes sure there can be quail seasons in Missouri.

Inaugural Balls

(The last event of a governor’s inauguration is the big dance.  In this tenth, and concluding, segment about inauguration history—Let’s Dance!)

Our new governor might be up late tonight because the celebration will continues well into the night.  After today’s inauguration, there will be dancing.  No matter how late the new governor is up, he’s usually in the office for his first full day of work early, if not bright, the next morning.

Members of the legislature and other important people will get all gussied up, many of them risking their lives (in our view) when they are introduced and proceed down the grand stairway from the second floor to the first floor rotunda.  We have never seen a lady get her toe caught in the hem of her gown as she comes down the stairs but the few times that we’ve jammed ourselves into the crowd and covered the event, we have watched those introductions and parades down the steps with a certain tenseness.

It takes FOREVER to get all of those people down those steps.  And then the new governor and his wife get the first dance before everybody else looks for enough space to approximate a dance.

Here’s a little history of inaugural balls in Missouri:

The first inaugural ball for a head of state in Missouri might have been in March, 1804 when Spanish Governor Carlos deHault de Lassus ran the French flag down the pole in St. Louis and the American flag was first run up, signifying the change of ownership of the Louisiana Territory from France to the United States.  De Lassus was the French-born Spanish Governor, the French never having any government leaders here during the time between the sale of the territory by Spain to France and then the transfer to the United States. Captain Amos Stoddard  represented the United States in that ceremony and was in charge until President Jefferson appointed a territorial governor.

Jere Giffen (who recently died) wrote in her book, First Ladies of Missouri, “De Lassus held a public dinner in Captain Stoddard’s honor.  This was followed by a dinner and ball given by the citizens of St. Louis. The new executive was aware of the requirements of his position and he reciprocated with a dinner and ball open to the public. Captain Stoddard noted in personal correspondence that his entertainment—which might be classed as the first inaugural ball of an American governor in the area of Missouri—cost a total of $622.75.”

There were public dinners that included dancing for succeeding territorial governors but they were not considered inaugural balls as we know them today.

The first inaugural ball of an actual Governor of Missouri might have been January 3, 1853. Giffen wrote that new first lady Martha Price (Governor Sterling Price), who was so sick during the 1852 campaign that some people expected her to die, “was sufficiently strong to move with her children into the executive mansion for the inaugural ceremonies in January, 1853.” The “mansion” in this case was the first house built for a governor, using $5,000 provided by the legislature in 1832.  It was located on the same square or block as the original Governor’s House was constructed in 1826.  The Capitol was originally known as the Governor’s House when state government moved here in the fall of ’26 because it had a two-room suite for the governor to live and work in.  That was fine for John Miller, a bachelor, but not so great for his successor, Daniel Dunklin, who had a family.  Construction was underway in October, 1833 and was ready when Dunklin moved his family to Jefferson City in early ’34. The exact location is unclear, as is the exact location of the original Governor’s House but it apparently was in the area where the present Executive Mansion is located.

Giffen writes, “A large reception, termed by some an inaugural ball, was held by the new first family and attended by hundreds including friends and relatives from Chariton and Howard Counties. One of the first formal entertainments planned by capital city residents for the new first family probably was held in the mansion of Thomas Lawson Price, the first mayor of Jefferson City and a prominent businessman of the time.  According to Jefferson City legend, it was an unbroken custom for many years for the incoming governor and his wife to be received first at the Price home.  Although bearing the same name, the two Price families were not directly related until several years later when the Governor’s son, Celsus, married Thomas Lawson Price’s daughter, Celeste.”   The wedding was at the Thomas Lawson Price mansion.

Thomas Lawson Price was the defendant in an 1846 lawsuit that challenged the legal ownership of the land on which Jefferson City was laid out.  The state, of course, won the suit.  In the early Twentieth Century, the Price mansion was purchased by the state, torn down, and became the site of the present Supreme Court Building.

Inauguration receptions and dances do not appear to have been held at the Capitol until the present building was erected.  Until then, celebratory events were held at the Executive Mansion built during the administration of Governor B. Gratz Brown.  Jean Carnahan, in If These Walls Could Talk, indicates the first inaugural festivities in the mansion were after the inauguration of Silas Woodson on January 3, 1873.

One writer—not present for the occasion, but hopeful that the Mansion and its residents would serve as a model of Victorian propriety—declared the evening “an assemblage of ladies and gentlemen met for the purpose of rational, intellectual enjoyment.”  However, those in attendance found the evening far more robust as sounds of music from a brass and string band filled the house. Inaugural guests delighted in such rollicking dances as the polka and schottische, which had replaced the minuet after the Civil War.  It was reported that dancers swirled “all through the magnificent parlors, waltzing around, through doors, and from one room to another, galloping over people who came in the way, and schottisching recklessly about…until long after the noon of the night.” 

Joseph Folk, a Democrat, was elected in 1904 when Republicans swept control of government into their column. Carnahan wrote:

Like first ladies before her, Gertrude Folk found the traditional reception and ball “a trying ordeal…and a tax on the hands and feet.”  Still she called the event “great fun” and an opportunity to meet people from all over the state.  As the evening grew longer and the fun gave way to fatigue, Gertrude eased her weary feet by abandoning her “new high-heeled slippers…in one corner of the drawing room after the last hand had been shaken!”

Herbert Hadley was inaugurated during a snow storm on January 9, 1909.  Giffen records, “Snow blew into the Mansion as each of the some ten thousand guests was admitted. Mrs. Hadley recalled how her gloves soon became torn with the prolonged handshaking and when she took them off her hand began to bleed, staining the front of her white satin inaugural gown.”   Giffen seems to indicate the event was more a reception than a ball—surely the only way ten thousand people could have visited the place that night.

The Jefferson City Tribune said, “It is said to have been the largest gathering ever assembled in the mansion. As you came down the grand staircase you would stop and look at the great seeting [sic] mass of human beings and hesitate to make the plunge but finally before you could get courage up to step forth, without a moment’s warning you were lifted off your feet and rushed along at such a rate that if the walls had given way under the pressure you would have rushed pell mell into the Missouri river.”  Music was by the Third Regimental Band of Kansas City but because the house was so crowded that dancing was impossible, “some of the young people repaired to the Madison hall and finished the evening in dancing,” a reference to the Madison Hotel, which burned about thirty years later and was replaced by the Governor Hotel, now the Governor Building.

Inaugurations were held indoors in the chamber of the House of Representatives.  The Capitol that burned in 1911 was not a fit place for any inaugural balls as we know them today—which is why post ceremony celebrations were held at the Mansion.

Things were a little straight-laced, compared to today, in 1913 when Elliott Major was inaugurated.  The inauguration committee issued an edict barring “ragging” at the ball, the playing of ragtime music.  Modern dances such as the “bunny hop” or the “bear cat,” or the “turkey trot,” and “all other of the 57 varieties of the terpsichorean art where swaying of the shoulders and other unnecessary movements” are made.

Governor Frederick Gardner was to have been inaugurated in what is now the Capitol’s Resources Museum in 1917 but that area was still unfinished.  He, therefore, held the first outdoor inauguration, an event not held again until Warren Hearnes began the current custom of outdoor ceremonies in 1965.  However, 1917 was the first time an inaugural ball was held in the Capitol.  Barricades limited participants to certain areas to congregate and dance. And organizers cautioned, “During the inaugural ball, only dancers will be allowed on the main floor in the museum.  Spectators will go up in the gallery.  Thirty policemen from St. Louis and Kansas City supplemented the Jefferson City police force with crowd control, security, and making sure the new building was not vandalized.  Three bands performed and champagne was served although Gardner had decreed earlier that he wanted no alcohol to be served during the ball.  Mrs. Gardner quick discovered the mistake but kept quiet about it. Later that year the House and the Senate met for one day in the new building although their chambers were not yet finished.  But legislators were able to say they had served in the new Capitol.

Receptions still were held at the Mansion on inauguration day but Governor Arthur M. Hyde, in a bow to the age of the building (now fifty years old) and the greatly increased crowds for inaugural events scheduled two inaugural balls—one at the mansion and another at the Capitol.  The first inaugural ball in the rotunda was on January 10, 1921.

Governor Baker was the first governor, in 1925, to have the only inaugural ball of the night in the rotunda.  But there was a post-inauguration reception at the Mansion, a practice that continues today.

By the time James T. Blair was sworn in on January 14, 1957, the crowds were so large that two inaugural balls were held—one in the rotunda and the other one two blocks away at the Governor Hotel.

When Warren Hearnes was sworn in on January 11, 1965, a military reception was held at the Mansion and a third dance was added to the inaugural ball festivities.  The now-traditional ball in the rotunda was joined by another dance at the Governor Hotel with a third one in the ballroom of the newly-opened Ramada Inn.

Inaugurations have continued to be held outdoors except for 1997 when Governor Carnahan felt the weather was too dangerous and the parade was cancelled and the ceremony was moved into the rotunda. Joe Teasdale, however, in 1977, held his ceremony outside although a foot of snow the night before caused the cancellation of the inaugural parade and the windchill at noon was minus-45. The inaugural ball did go ahead that night—in the rotunda.

The first Ashcroft inauguration on January 14, 1985 (and the same would happen four years later at his second inauguration) did not feature the new Governor and First Lady having the first dance in the rotunda.  John and Janet Ashcroft, as members of the Assembly of God, did not take part in dancing. Instead, he sat down at a grand piano in the rotunda and played “The Missouri Waltz.”

The Holden inauguration in 2001 created headlines for months.  It included two additional dance floors in large heated tents on the south front lawn of the Capitol.  There were FOUR inaugural balls—the traditional rotunda event, another dubbed “One Bright Future” in one of the lawn tents, the third—the “One Missouri Ball” in the other tent, and a fourth, at the Capital Plaza hotel, was a Children’s Ball that was for children five to thirteen years old that featured a coloring corner, a photo station, an arcade and a sundae bar.  The final cost of all of the inauguration events was $1,039,917.20 (of which $125,400 was state funds).  It was the second-most expensive gubernatorial nomination among the 17 inaugurations from December, 2000-May, 2001 with only Puerto Rico spending more.  Holden did not pay off a debt totaling about $417,000 until July.  Union donations, mostly in June, constituted $51,000, which drew criticism because Holden issued an executive order later that month giving unions more influence in collective bargaining with state workers.  His spokesman denied any impropriety and noted unions had strongly supported Holden throughout his political career.

After those events, the legislature decided not to appropriate state funds for future inaugurations, beginning with Matt Blunt.  Since the Holden inauguration, succeeding governors have taken some pains to note how thrifty they have been.  In fact, the first Nixon inauguration, July 12, 2009, was dubbed the “potluck inauguration” because the planning committee decided to hold a potluck dinner at the Capital Plaza with the committee providing hamburgers and the public was invited to bring home-made desserts.  But that part of the day fell through when city health officials warned there was no way to guarantee the safety of the food that was brought in.

If, by the way, you want to see what many of the First Ladies wore at their inaugural balls, you can visit the Cole County Historical Society, across the street from the Mansion, and see several on display.  They don’t have any of the attire worn by the Governors, but as we all know, there are times—most often weddings—when the outfit worn by the man is of no interest at all for the official record.  What’s so interesting about a tux or a suit?

The society is in the row house  where Governor Brown lived while the mansion was being built.

 

Every inauguration has its moments

Sometimes things aren’t as well-organized on inauguration day as they seem.   We’ve covered a dozen of ‘em and we’ve read about several more.  It seems they’re always quirky despite the minute-by-minute planning. 

The inauguration ceremony actually is a joint session of the Missouri Legislature.  The President Pro Tem of the Senate is the presiding officer, master of ceremonies, of the event—except in 1965 when the Speaker of the House presided.  That was the first inauguration of Warren Hearnes, who had run against the so-called “establishment” that ran the Democratic Party, and had defeated Lieutenant Governor Hillary Bush.  Former Senate leader Albert Spradling, Jr., recalled for the State Historical Society that Hearnes tried to gain control of the Senate but conservative senators stopped him by electing John W. Joynt of St.  Louis as the Pro-Tem.  Hearnes recalled in a similar interview that he had tried to get one of his campaign supporters, Senator Earl Blackwell of Hillsboro, elected President Pro Tem although Blackwell had been in the Senate only two years at the time.  The veteran senators also rejected Hearnes’ efforts to compromise by having Blackwell named Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. The resentment caused by Hearnes’ tactics—before he was even Governor—so antagonized Joynt that  he refused to preside over Hearnes’ inauguration a few days later, leaving the job to Speaker of the House Thomas Graham. 

Three times in the last four inaugurals, a wheel has fallen off. 

We listened back to our recording of the 2013 events to put together this chronology.  Governors are usually sworn in at noon as the bells toll the noon hour at a nearby church. Here’s the chronology of how things fell apart at the critical moment:

11:59:56—band finishes playing “God Bless America.”

12:00;20—12:01:20—The bell at St. Peter Catholic Church tolls eight times.

Long pause.  Finally, Senate President Pro tem Tom Dempsey, the MC, approaches the podium, and just as he draws a breath to introduce the judge to swear in the Governor—

12:02:23—ninth bell (crowd and podium guests laugh loudly) Dempsey throws up his hands and retreats to his seat.

12:02:33—tenth bell

12:02:42—eleventh bell.  Then silence. There is no 12th bell for the noon swearing-in.  Voices on the platform (including Nixon’s apparently) are heard confirming, however, that there had been the 12th bell. Nope. Just eleven).

12:04:18—Convinced there are no more bells, Dempsey introduces St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison to swear in Nixon.

12:04:52—Judge Burlison begins the oath, “I, Jeremy Wilson Nixon…”  Nixon repeats, “I, Jeremiah Wilson Nixon…”

12:05:25—oath completed.   Church bells ring joyously throughout the city. Helicopter flyover.  

                                                           

Nixon’s first inauguration in 2009 was the second time in three inaugurals when the governor was sworn in early. Master of Ceremonies Charlie Shields, the Senate President pro Tem, noted about 11:45 that the event was running early and the band would play some music to fill time. However after one number he announced the swearing in of the new governor would proceed. Shields said the National Guard, which operates the schedule for the inaugurations, told him through his earpiece to go ahead with the oath-giving and taking.  The swearing-in of Governor Nixon began at 11:52 and the church bells rang early.

                                               

The 2005 inauguration went off on time but is remembered by some for the relatively warm weather and for the governor’s attire.

Governor Blunt refused to be sworn in while wearing the traditional tuxedo, which he referred to in an interview with us as a “monkey suit.” 

Blunt used two Bibles.  In his inaugural address he noted that one was the Bible he used each day.  The second one would be given to his son upon his birth. He said it reminded him “that what we do today, tomorrow and across the next four years will help define the future opportunities of every Missouri Child.    

2005 was the second time in recent memory that the new first lady danced in the inaugural ball a few weeks before the birth of the first couple’s first child.  Matt and Melanie Blunt were expecting their first child, Branch, in March.  In 1981, Christopher and Carolyn Bond’s son, Sam, was born a matter of days after the inauguration. 

                                                           

Bob Holden’s inauguration in 2001 was a scrambled affair and the first time in the dozen inaugurations we have covered that the governor was sworn in early. Supreme Court judge Ronnie White, the master of ceremonies called for the swearing-in of Attorney General Jay Nixon right after the invocation.  The schedule called for the inaugurations of the lesser officials to take place AFTER remarks from former Senator Thomas Eagleton and after the introduction of platform guests.  After Eagleton spoke and the guests were introduced, the other inaugurations took place. 

The event, which had started at 11;15 instead of the usual 11:30 saw the inauguration of lower-ranking statewide officials finished by 11:45.  Rather than wait 15 minutes for the traditional noon-time inauguration of the governor, the ceremonies went right on ahead.  Just as the church bell across the street rang once to signal it was 11:45, Governor Holden was sworn in.  Radio and television stations planning to joining the ceremonies just in time for the noon inauguration of the governor found themselves switching to the Capitol after Holden was well into his address, or not switching at all.  The church bells did not strike 12 because it would have interrupted the speech.  In his press conference after the event, Holden explained that he decided to go ahead with the swearing-in because it was 27 degrees and people were getting cold. 

The early swearing-in caught the flight of four F-15s from the St. Louis National Guard unit unprepared.  The jets, which usually formed up west of Jefferson City and flew over the Capitol west to east were far from being ready when word went out that the swearing-in was taking place and the 19-gun salute was being fired.  The jets wound up flying over the Capitol, more or less on a north to south route with two jets together and two others straggling behind, well out of formation.

                                                                       

Timing of the events leading to the noon inauguration was a problem, too, in 1965, during the first Hearnes inauguration.  Speaker Tom Graham, about whom we referred earlier, recalled in an oral history interview for the State Historical Society that all of the scheduled events leading to the governor’s inauguration had been finished ten minutes early.  He said, “I introduced everybody in sight.  I introduced Governor Dalton and his wife. I introduced my wife. I introduced the members of the House. I introduced the members of the Senate, and then I introduced the taxpayers.”  That killed enough time for the swearing-in of Hearnes to take place at high noon.

                                                           

The second Carnahan inauguration was moved indoors because of bad weather.  Organizers always have that contingency available, setting up chairs and a special podium in both places.  The move indoors, however, meant less space for people wanting to watch.

The Carnahan inauguration, in 1993, first brought the festival atmosphere which existed in and around the Capitol for the rest of the day after the ceremonies. Carnahan was sworn in using an old family Bible used by his great grandfather, a circuit-riding Methodist minister.  At one time there was a hole in the back cover.  Family tradition held that the hole was worn by the saddle horn of his great grandfather’s saddle.  A new cover was put on the Bible in later years that replaced that worn one. He did not wear a top hat–which is kind of an on-again-off-again tradition for these events.  In 1989, when he was sworn in for his second term as treasurer, Carnahan wore a beaver topper with a long and distinguished history.  But he told us before the inauguration in ’93 that he reviewed the tapes of that event and saw he was about the only person who wore the traditional hat for the ceremony.  Others who had them either left them indoors or carried them. So he decided in 1993 to leave the hat off.  It belonged to his father, former Congressman A.S. J. Carnahan, who served in Congress for 14 years and was the first United States Ambassador to the African country of Sierra Leone, appointed by President Kennedy.

But his father was not the first owner of that distinguished hat.  It originally belonged to Congressman John B. Sullivan of St. Louis, whose wife Leonore became the elder Carnahan’s  successor and served with great distinction in the Congress for many years. 

Some might find a bit of irony in the telling of that story, we suppose.  Anyway, the hat stayed in the box in 1993. 

But—

In 1997, Carnahan wore the beaver top hat—a little bit. We didn’t see him in it in the Capitol. He only wore it for the trip from the Mansion to the Capitol building. 

—As long as we’re speaking of top hats, here’s a little top hat history for you.  In 1969, when John Danforth was sworn in as Attorney General, he was the only one of the state officers who did not wear one.

Thomas Eagleton wore one that day although he refused to wear such a thing in earlier ceremonies.  He had complained that all during his military service his hats had been either too large or too small and he had refused to wear any hats since.

In 1961, when Harry Truman attended John Dalton’s inauguration, he refused to wear a top hat in the parade.  He wore his customary felt hat instead.

The 1961 inauguration as unusual in another respect.  The Lieutenant Governor was not sworn in with the other statewide officials.  Hillary Bush was inaugurated more than two hours later in the State Senate because the Lieutenant Governor is the President of the Senate.  He told the senators he respected the Senate tradition of “orderly and courteous procedure and the most searching examination into each and every law affecting our citizens.”  He promised to support “full and open debate,” saying “Good laws are not enacted after bearing only one side of a question. Minority views are just as important as the views of the majority. Sound debate often results in a decision acceptable to both sides and thus redounds to the benefit of the state”  

However, several of Bush’s friends from Kansas City missed the event.  The passenger elevators were jammed by the large crowd, so a janitor agreed to let them use a freight elevator.  Fifteen to twenty people crowded in—and the elevator stopped about five feet from the third floor.   Several minutes of door-pounding and prying open the doors finally caught the attention of someone in the hallway who got on top of the elevator car and lowered a chair to the interior.  After about five people used the chair to get out, the car rose to the third floor and stopped normally.  But it was too late for those inside to witness the event. 

 

One highlight of the 1989 inauguration of John Ashcroft was the opening of the huge bronze doors on the south front of the Capitol.  The doors had been closed for many years.  They had been opened only for very special occasions for about 40 years.  The state had paid $122,000 to repair and restore the doors.  The hinges and frames were rebuilt and the finish to the doors was restored.  The doors weigh 7,200 pounds, stand more than 18 feet tall and are 12-feet wide. It takes seven minutes to get the things open.  The doors are divided into four panels.  the second and third panels–the center panels–fold inward toward the Capitol and lock against the first and fourth panels, which also fold inward to provide a panoramic view up the 30-foot wide grand stairway to the third, or legislative, floor of the building.   At the time the doors were installed, they were called the largest bronze doors cast since the days of Ancient Rome.  

                                                           

In 1985, Former Governor Hearnes did not attend the ceremonies, saying he had not been invited far enough in advance.  Supreme Court Judge Warren Welliver refused to attend, showing his disappointment that an associate judge of the court was swearing in Governor Bond instead of the Chief Justice.  The Associate Justice that day was Albert Rendlen, former Republican Party chairman (Welliver was a Democrat), who later became a Chief Justice.  While he held that office, he swore in John Ashcroft for his first term.  Ashcroft was sworn in for his second term by Judge Edward Robertson, his former aide that he had shortly before appointed to the Supreme Court.  Robertson, who became the Chief Justice and is now in private practice, did not swear in Governor Carnahan.  In fact, most members of the Supreme Court were absent from involvement in the 1993 ceremonies.  All of them were Ashcroft appointees. 

It is not mandatory that the Chief Justice swear in the Governor.  Circuit Judge Sam Blair swore in his brother, James T. Blair, in 1957.  In 1881, Governor Thomas Crittenden was sworn in by the outgoing Lieutenant Governor, Henry Brockmeyer, because members of the Supreme Court didn’t even show up for the ceremony until Crittenden was giving his inaugural address. 

                                                —–

In 1981, an empty chair was placed on the inaugural platform next to Kenneth Rothman, who became Lieutenant Governor that day.  Rothman had it placed there as a memorial to his father, who had died the year before. 

 In 1977, when Joseph Teasdale was sworn in on a bitterly cold day, Senator Eagleton was sitting on the platform next to Senator Danforth, so wrapped up in a shawl that Sally Danforth had given him when she went inside to get warm that a University of Missouri reporting program reporter mis-identified him as Senator Danforth’s wife. The wind chill factor that day was 45-below, so you know why he was wrapped up so tightly.  The ceremony started in two-below-zero temperatures.  A foot of snow had fallen overnight, causing the cancellation of the inaugural parade.  Despite abysmal conditions—the pianist suffered frostbite on her fingers–Teasdale decided to have the ceremony outside because of the large number of people who had come to Jefferson City–especially from his home town of Kansas City–to see him sworn in.   Many, if not the majority, of them stayed inside the Capitol, however, while the new governor earned for himself the nickname “Freezedale” from uncharitable critics.

                                                ——

 Eagleton figures in a couple of other odd moments on inauguration day.  On the way to the first Hearnes inaugural in 1965, Eagleton—who was to become Lieutenant Governor that day—was seen hitchhiking, dressed in formal attire.  The car being used to chauffer him around had run out of gas a number of blocks from the Jefferson City First Baptist Church, where an inaugural worship service was held.  Another was held there in 1969.  The Hearnes family was Baptist and Betty often sang in the church choir. 

The year Eagleton was sworn in as Attorney General, 1961, the man administering the oath forgot it.  Former Judge Sam Blair, who had administered the oath to his brother Jim when Jim became governor in 1957, said he had sworn-in thousands of persons before, and the oath is really simple as can be.  But he said he suffered a complete mental block, which lasted about four seconds but seemed far longer and left Judge Sam a little shaken.

                                                ——-

The scariest inauguration might have been in 1913, when Elliott Major was sworn in.   The Capitol had burned in 1911 and a temporary Capitol was erected just east of the present building.  It was made of stucco, lath and wire.  One account says “it was jammed to suffocation and the structure groaned and creaked under the weight of the crowd.”  There were fears it would collapse until the building architect assured officials it would stand. The building was still there when Frederick Gardner was to be inaugurated in 1917 but officials were afraid to use it.  The situation led to the first outdoor inauguration because the new Capitol remained unfinished enough for an indoor ceremony and nobody wanted to go back into the temporary building.

                                       ——

There were fears in 1881 that the inauguration of John S. Marmaduke might have to be delayed because he developed a severe nose bleed in St. Louis a few days later.  The New York Times reported (Jan 11, 1885) that three doctors worked to solve the problem by trying to keep him “perfectly quiet and free from all excitement.”  The newspaper reported the Marmaduke was at a St. Louis hotel “up in his room nursing his well proportioned nose, which has both nostrils solidly plugged up.”  He did recover in time to attend his inauguration.  However he died in pneumonia in 1887 before the end of his term. 

                                                            —————-

When Trusten Polk was inaugurated for what became the shortest gubernatorial term in Missouri history, the large crowd in the House Chamber was puzzled why the ceremony had not started.  What the crowd did not know was that nobody had a Bible for Polk to put his hand on when he took the oath of office.  While the crowd waited, a frantic search was underway in the capitol to find one.  Alas! There was not a single Bible to be found in the entire building.  Someone finally came in with one—located at the State Penitentiary!  One newspaper said afterwards that Jefferson City would be a tremendous field for missionaries, noting, “”We fear that the work of legislation can never go on properly in a place where copies of the Good Book are so scarce, and that it will be necessary for other reasons than the high price of board, to fetch the Legislature to St. Louis where, goodness knows, there are plenty of Bibles, whether we govern our lives by the precepts contained therein or not.”

Polk served less than two months before he was elected to fill a vacancy in the U. S. Senate, from which he was later expelled at the start of the Civil War for disloyalty, an interesting irony for a man who said in his inaugural speech, “It will be a never-failing source of gratification to me if I shall be able to contribute in any degree towards inspiring a more sacred reverence for the Constitution of Government under which the several peoples of all the states are united as one people.”  

                                                ——-.

Let’s see if we get this ceremony right this time. 

 

 

 

 

 

         

          

Addresses

Three addresses are important on inauguration day in Missouri.

The ceremony usually is held on the lawn of 201 West Capital Avenue.  Afterwards, the new governor and his family become residents of 100 Madison Street.

Then there is the inaugural address of the new governor in which themes of the coming administration are usually laid out in general terms although there have been times when governors have been pretty specific. And as we look back at some of those remarks, we find some that could be spoken today.

The address of our first governor, Alexander McNair, was delivered September 19, 1820—in St. Louis.  Congress gave Missouri permission in 1820 to elect a state governor and a legislature and to write a Constitution.  Missouri did not become a state, however, until August 10, 1821 after some problems with the Constitution were worked out.  McNair signed the bill on November 25, 1820 moving the seat of government from St. Louis to St. Charles until a permanent location could be picked. The legislators met there for the first time on June 4, 1821.  McNair’s first address after becoming governor is notable for its brevity—only 443 words.  He talked of the “happy change which has taken place in our political affairs,” meaning the transition from Territory to eventual statehood. And he told the lawmakers, “We shall adopt and put a new government into operation, to act with a degree of prudence and deliberation, comporting with the importance of the duties to be performed, as the future character and prosperity of our country in a very great degree depend upon the measures of the first General Assembly.”

McNair’s successor, Frederick Bates told the legislature on November 18, 1824, only about three weeks after his election that the confidence of the people was clear but, as he put it, “I must acquire the confidence of the general assembly before I can, with decent propriety, or with fair prospects of success, submit to them my views of the leading subjects of legislation.” He put forth a few principles, namely that “Justice should be accessible to all…and delays beyond the due forms and deliberations are denials.” And he warned against political manipulation of the judiciary, saying, “The officers of that department…should be placed, if possible, beyond the reach of those temporary excitements, so often discoverable in other classes of our fellow-citizens. An able and upright administration of the laws, is among the first and greatest of political blessings.”

Frederick Bates died before the seat of government was moved to Jefferson City.  The first inaugural address in Jefferson City was delivered by John Miller, who finished Bates’ term and was elected to a full four-year term.  Miller began the practice of combining his inaugural address with what we would today call the State of the State Address when he spoke in what was called “The Governor’s House,” on November 18, 1826.  His speech was 5,537 words long. It was not unusual for future governors’ inaugural speeches for several decades to continue that trend of combining the two occasions.  The continued population growth of the state led him to comment, with pride, that state government revenue was as much as $55,000 to $60,000 a year without any increases in taxes.

Another part of his speech jumps out of the long text because of the election these 190 years later.  Miller said, “The propriety of proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, relating to the election of the President and Vice President, [is] a subject which imperiously demands the consideration of the legislature. That the will of the people shall control the choice of the…Chief Magistracy of the United States is a principle supported by the spirit of the Constitution and held sacred by a large majority of the citizens of the Union.”   But, he said, “it must be admitted that the Constitution in in its letter, in this particular, defective.”  He called on the legislature to urge Congress and legislatures in other states to amend the constitution to make a vote of the people elect the President and Vice-President, and “preventing in any event, an election being made by the House of Representatives.”

He was speaking in the wake of the 1824 election in which neither Andrew Jackson nor John Quincy Adams got a majority of the 261 electoral votes. Two other candidates combined to get 78.   The election was decided by the House of Representatives in favor of Adams although he got 38,000 fewer votes than Jackson, 31 percent of the total to Jackson’s 41 percent.  Missouri had given Adams only four percent of the vote; Jackson 34 percent, and Henry Clay 59.

The day of the terribly-long inaugural address/legislative address ended with James T. Blair on January 14, 1957.  He announced several days ahead of the event that he would speak for only fifteen minutes and would make no recommendations to the legislature in an effort to hold the ceremony to forty-five minutes.  He planned a legislative address a week later and supplemental addresses after that. The practice of separate State of the State and budget messages continued through several succeeding administrations.  Today, the State of the State and the budget message are combined into one address.

With that historical foundation laid, let’s launch a long reflection on more recent and not-so-recent speeches.

Four years ago, Governor Nixon called for cooperation between his administration and the overwhelmingly-Republican legislature, recalling that in his first years in the state senate, there was a Republican governor when the legislature was Democratic and “it was possible to disagree while continuing to advance the common good.’  He hoped his second term would be one in which, “We will put our shared principles ahead of our small differences, and work together…”  But the legislature became even more partisan and their disagreements grew even sharper.  He leaves office as the governor with far more vetoes overridden than any governor in Missouri history.

Nixon’s speech in 2009 was called “A New Day for Missouri,” and was delivered as the country was headed toward the depths of the recession.  He noted Missourians were “united by the common uncertainty of our future.”  But he proclaimed his inauguration marked “a new day for Missouri.  He committed his administration to improving the economy by “making Missouri a magnet for next-generation jobs,” and he promised the state would invest in new technology.  He talked of implementing new policies although he did not get specific.  His speech was filled with generalities, the wording intended to encourage an audience during discouraging times.

Matt Blunt’s speech in 2005 focused on change. “Change begins today, at this hour, in this place,” he said.  Blunt and fellow Republicans had attacked Bob Holden for withholding money from public education during his term to balance the budget in tight economic times.  Blunt had promised he would never balance the budget as Holden had done, proclaiming government was “morally bound” to serve Missouri’s children and their families.  He promised to push for an entrepreneurial climate where good family supporting jobs could be created.  He told the audience the work was beginning to improve the lives of all Missourians, that government had to do a better job of serving the people while remaining frugal and wise.  A few days later he announced in his state of the state speech that he was changing the Medicaid program in ways that cut tens of thousands of people out of it.

In his speech in 2001, Governor Holden called on Missourians to “reach new heights” during the first administration of the 21st century.  His “one Missouri” theme pushed for finding the character to improve health, education, respect for others, job training, better transportation and an improved environment.  But he noted “the greatest barrier we have to building one Missouri is ourselves.”   He noted the state could no longer think of itself as divided by geography (the urban-rural split), by race, by partisan politics—“It’s time Kansas City and St. Louis realize they live in the same state,” he said.  He went on, “The goal of my administration is to unite all Missourians in forging a bright future that holds maximum opportunities for each of us.”

In 1997, Governor Carnahan recalled that in his first term, the state had started reforming its education system, cutting the crime rate and moving people from welfare rolls to payrolls–as he put it.  In addition the state was recovering from its worst flood in recorded history.  “Let there be no doubt,” he said that day, “this administration will vigorously promote education, not just with words, but through plans and hard work that translate into achievement.”  He set a goal of making every youngster computer literate by age 12, and a goal of making sure no company would leave Missouri because of a lack of trained employees. He urged a new partnership between government, business and communities to improve education and education opportunities.

Four years earlier, in 1993, Carnahan said the measure of his time in office would be, as he put it, “How far did he take us toward the next century?  And how well did he help us prepare for the challenges that lie ahead?”

“I want to leave behind tangible achievements–things we can touch and measure–things that will endure–things that will make a difference in people’s lives,” he said. His focus would be on education.  He said he would make it the real test of his governorship.  Carnahan said it would take a revolution with tougher standards for children, teachers, and others.  And he said money must be provided to make it all happen.  Later that year, the legislature passed the Excellence in Education Act, which raised taxes for education.  He wanted a high school graduation rate of 90 percent by 2000, which proved to be unattainable.

He said his second mission would be economic development and promised the state’s first comprehensive economic development plan.  He said it was time to get serious, and smart, about economic development.  “I am convinced that we have the heart and the will to make great progress and do great things,” he said…”Together, if we try, we can claim the future. Let’s take the risk of trying.”

In 1989, John Ashcroft titled his speech, “Independence and Responsibility, Declarations for the 21st Century.”  He called on Missourians to declare independence from ignorance, declare ourselves free from dependence on government, declare independence from a contaminated environment, and declare independence from degrading drugs and pornography.

In 1985, Ashcroft called for a partnership between state government and the people of Missouri to attract new industry, improve education, solve problems of prison and rehabilitation, and fight child abuse.  He pledged the state to improve teacher salaries but called on teachers to improve the standards of our schools.  He said government cannot solve all problems by itself, but government can lead people to work together to solve problems and meet the challenges of the future.

In 1981, Christopher Bond was returning to office saying the nation had seen government that offered many solutions that raised people’s hopes and expectations had grown.  But promises had been broken; confidence in government was weakened.  He called for renewed pioneering efforts in education, crime-fighting, help for the elderly and poor.  It was a short speech, just over three double-spaced, large-type, typewritten pages.

In 1977, Joseph Teasdale promised breaks with tradition, bemoaned lack of public confidence in government and pledged that elected leaders would be servants, not masters.  He told the audience it was the will of God that he be elected Governor. His speech was also relatively short, although longer than Bond’s 1981 speech.  He said in his inaugural he had a comprehensive legislative program he would announce later.  He did, in a speech in the House chamber that lasted one-hour-17-minutes and 46 seconds, the longest State of the State message on the recent record. I timed it.

In 1973, Christopher Bond’s first inaugural speech was longer than Teasdale’s speech.  He recalled his campaign had been based on an issue of trust, rather an explicit promises for explicit policies.  He spoke of trust, integrity, pride, compassion and confidence.  His speech in 1981, though much shorter, was considerably more specific—in general areas.

Warren Hearnes said in 1969, although not directly, that Missourians would probably face a tax increase during his second administration.  He had made good on a promise of no tax increase in his first four years.  But he could not make a similar promise for his second term.   “To do and be better,” he said “is a goal few achieve. To do it we are required to make sacrifices.  Sacrifice in the sense of the giving of a part of those material things which we enjoy in abundance.”   1969 became the year of his battle with Senator Earl Blackwell.  At the end of that fight, Hearnes tasted political defeat on a major issue for his first time.  He noted then that inauguration day might have been the only day in the whole year that the sun shone on Warren Hearnes.

In 1961, John Dalton promised to gear his administration to strict law enforcement and high ethical standards.  He promised a strong study of Missouri’s tax structure, frankly saying, “We will require additional income if we are to make necessary expansions in our services and I strongly feel that these increases should be levied on non-essentials and not on the necessities of life.”  He promised to formulate legislation for increased industrialization of our state, and stronger laws on traffic safety.

Governor Phil Donnelly called for the state to look forward to the obligations and opportunities of a post-war world when he was sworn in for his first term in 1945. Donnelly, who had been in the legislature for twenty-two years before becoming governor, also knew the state faced challenges when the war ended in an American victory.  He knew it would take “hardheaded resistance” by the governor and the legislature from pressure groups wanting the state to spend an eighteen-million dollar surplus generated by a wartime economy. He said it was a “moral obligation” to set the money aside to take care of “some of the damage this war will inflict on Missouri.”  He knew the state’s unemployment compensation fund would be stressed when war industries closed and laid off thousands of Missourians.  He also knew the war had given “immense impetus to the development of peacetime aviation and called for actions to insure development of airports.

Missouri and the nation were well into the Great Depression when former Congressman Henry Caulfield urged the legislature on January 3, 1929, to practice a “rigid economy,” saying, “It is difficult, if not impossible, for us to conduct the state government properly within present revenue, yet it is our duty not to permit our expenditures to exceed the expectant income.  The practice of over-appropriating the estimated revenue on the theory that the Governor will withhold portions of the sums appropriated is not to be commended. I urge you to limit strictly your appropriations in the aggregate to the amount of the estimated revenue. If, not withstanding the amount of the estimated revenue is not sufficient to meet the stat needs, then I respectfully suggest that you should make provisions for an increase in revenue.”

The 1921 inaugural address of Governor Arthur M. Hyde is notable for the history it observed and for a message that might resonate these ninety-six years later. Hyde was the first governor inaugurated in the rotunda of the new capitol.  The first line of his speech noted a historic chance in Missouri: “The men and women of Missouri have spoken.”   Hyde was the first governor elected after women got the right to vote.

He continued: “Their voice was no uncertain one. The pluralities given to the Republican party were the largest ever given to any party in the history of the State. To the party has come complete control of the Legislature. Every elective official is a Republican.”  But he cautioned against self-congratulation or exultation because of the promises made during the campaign. He said, “We have duties to perform, pledges to redeem, work to do. The largeness of our pluralities measures only the greatness of our opportunities and the solemnity of our duty.”

Joseph W. Folk, inaugurated in 1905 after a populist campaign against corruption, was preceded in the inaugural ceremonies by William Jennings Bryan, who was brought to Jefferson City from his Nebraska home to praise Folk’s victory. Folk, in his address, urged the legislature to pass a number of reform bills. One would allow witness immunity in bribery cases (the state had just been through a legislative bribery scandal in 1903), and an extension of the statute of limitations in bribery cases. He said the state should vigorously prosecute the issuance of railroad passes to political figures (the railroads, as the dominant means of transportation, used the passes to exercise considerable influence on lawmakers).  He favored creation of statewide primary elections to end control of the process by bosses and their machine, and direct election of U. S. Senators instead of the then-present system of legislative elections of them.  And he shook up the “business as usual” concept in the capitol by proposing lobbying be made a crime unless the lobbyists registered with the state and did not stay in the capitol for more than thirty hours.

And Folk, a Democrat with a Republican legislature, reminded lawmakers, “Partisanship is a good thing, sometimes, but Patriotism is a better thing all the time…Some of you are Democrats, some are Republicans; all are Missourians. In the discharge of official duties let us be Missourians before we are anything else. Do not forget that you will be aiding the party you may belong to most by giving the public the highest service. You cannot help your party by injuring the public.”

We find an interesting set of circumstances when we go all the way back to January 5, 1857 when Governor Trusten Polk told the audience in the House chamber of the old capitol, “it will be a never-failing source of gratification to me if I shall be able to contribute in any degree towards inspiring a more sacred reverence for the Constitution of Government under which the several peoples of all the states are united as one people…Fellow citizens: I may often go wrong, even while doing the best I can.  When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground.”

A few weeks later Trusten Polk resigned as governor to become a United States Senator.  In 1861, this governor who promoted reverence for the Constitution was expelled from the U. S. Senate for disloyalty.  He spent the Civil War on the Confederate side.

Eight years later, Governor Fletcher knew the war would be ending in a few months. In his speech January 2, 1865, he proclaimed, “Henceforth Missouri shall be an asylum for all nationalities and races and peoples; the repository of wealth, and a theater for the development of the labor and enterprise of the hand and spirit of Industry; and the home of free thought, free speech and a free press, where the prejudices of caste and class have no legal embodiment or political encouragement. She shall be a central mart for the interchange of the products of the North and the South, the East and the West, through the rivers of her great basin and the system of railways centering in her metropolis. She shall be a highway for the commerce of the two oceans, borne by the inland transit lines that carry the freights between Europe and Asia. She shall proffer a secure and guarded repose to all consciences and all religious beliefs, un-tied by any secular control, yet upheld and encircled by a public sentiment upon which faith in God has taken a new hold from the experiences of an unparalleled national preservation.”

Some inaugural speeches resonate through the decades.  Some become just speeches.

The feeder offices

If you want to be the Governor of Missouri someday, is there a stepping-stone office you should hold first?   Pretty clearly, Eric Greitens has shown it’s not necessary.  But which of the other four who will be sworn into office next week is in the best job to move up as a potential successor to Greitens?   Let’s look at the statewide officers who have made the leap. 

Lieutenant Governors who have become Governor:  Daniel Dunklin, Lilburn Boggs, Meredith Miles Marmaduke, Hancock Lee Jackson, Willard Hall, Albert Morehouse, James T. Blair, Jr., Mel Carnahan, Roger Wilson.  Marmaduke, Jackson, Hall, Morehouse, and Wilson moved up when the governor’s office became vacant through death or resignation.  (Thomas C. Reynolds was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1860.  His office was vacated when he and Governor Claiborne Jackson fled to the Confederacy at the start of the Civil War.  When Jackson died, Reynolds became the Confederate Governor of Missouri.  Supporters of the Lost Cause chafe at the refusal to list him as a legitimate governor of the state although for some of that time his “capitol” was a house in Marshall, Texas and he never had any administrative authority in the general state government.)   Nine.  

Secretaries of State: Hamilton Gamble, John Edwards, Warren Hearnes, Matt Blunt.  Four

Auditors: Forest Smith, Christopher Bond, John Ashcroft.  Three

Treasurers: Lon Stephens, Mel Carnahan, Bob Holden.  Three.

Attorneys General: Thomas Crittenden, Herbert Hadley, Elliott Major, John Dalton, John Ashcroft, Jeremiah Nixon.   Six

Only John Ashcroft and Mel Carnahan held two of the top six offices before becoming Governor.

Twenty-three men have moved from one of those six offices into the governorship.  Thirty have had other origins. 

Some sources—the state’s Official Manual, for instance—say Jay Nixon is Missouri’s 55th Governor.  Actually, he is our 53rd but he has run Missouri’s 55th gubernatorial administration.  Governors Phil Donnelly and Christopher Bond served two separate terms, Donnelly because the Missouri Constitution at the time prohibited a governor from succeeding himself and Bond because he lost a re-election to Joe Teasdale in 1976.  Eric Greitens, by the way, will become the first Governor since Teasdale, forty years ago, with no previous experience in one of the six statewide offices.

If being in one of those offices is not an automatic stepping-stone to the governorship, what might be? 

We’ve looked at the careers of all of the other thirty governors and here are some of the results.

Some served in the U. S. House before becoming Governor: Price, McClurg, Phillips, Stone, Dockery, Caulfield.

Some were in the U. S. Senate before becoming Governor: Stewart, Brown

State House of Representatives: Reynolds (Speaker), King, Price, C. F Jackson (Speaker), Brown, Hardin, Morehouse, Donnelly

State Senate: Williams (Pro Tem), Hardin, Donnelly.

Some had been county or city prosecutors, or the equivalent: Polk, Stone, Folk, Donnell, Teasdale.

Some had been mayors: Francis, Dockery, Hyde, Caulfield, Blair.

Judge: Bates (Michigan), Reynolds (Illinois), King, Park.

U. S. Marshall: McNair

County official: Fletcher

State School Superintendent:  Baker

No political office held: Woodson, John Marmaduke, Gardner, Stark. (and soon, Greitens)

We’ve compiled some thumbnails of the political careers of the thirty and we attach them for whatever interest you might have.  If you have none, you can consider your reading of this entry complete.

                                                           

Alexander McNair, our first governor, was a former U. S. Marshal and was on the St. Louis Board of Town Trustees for two terms. He also commanded the First Missouri Mounted Militia during the War of 1812.

Frederick Bates was a Justice of the Supreme Court in Michigan Territory before he became the Secretary of the Louisiana Territory and recorder of land titles. He was the acting Governor when William Clark was out of the territory and in the interim after Benjamin Howard resigned to accept a military commission and before Clark was appointed to succeed him.

Abraham J. Williams was the President Pro Tem of the Senate when Bates died. Since Benjamin Reeves had resigned as Lt. Governor to go survey the Santa Fe Trail, Williams became acting governor until a special election selected John Miller who had been the Registrar of the Howard County Land Office at a time when Howard County was huge (several counties were divided away from it) and settlement in the area was booming.

Thomas Reynolds was a former Supreme Court Chief Justice in Illinois then a member of the Illinois House. He was the Speaker of the Missouri House before becoming a circuit judge, a position he held before becoming governor.

Austin King was a former circuit judge (he presided over the trial of Mormon leader Joseph Smith), and a former two-term member of the Missouri House.

Sterling Price was a former member of the Missouri House and served part of a term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Trusten Polk had been the city counselor in St. Louis and was a delegate to the Missouri Constitutional Convention of 1845.

Robert Stewart was a state senator for ten years. 

Claiborne F. Jackson was in the House for twelve years, four as Speaker. He served two terms in the Senate and then was state banking commissioner when he became Governor.

Thomas Fletcher, our 18th governor was the first one born in Missouri. He was a circuit clerk in Jefferson County and was a temporary Brigadier General in the Union Army.

Joseph McClurg, Union Army Colonel and three-term member of Congress before becoming governor.

Benjamin Gratz Brown was a former member of the Missouri House and a U. S. Senator during the Civil War. 

Silas Woodson was a trial lawyer whose only other attempt at public office was an unsuccessful candidacy for the legislature.

Charles Hardin served in the Missouri House and was elected to the Missouri Senate before the Civil War.  He served in Missouri’s Confederate Senate-on-the run and was the only senator to vote against secession, then was elected after the war to the state senate again before becoming governor.

John S. Phelps served nine terms in the U. S. House, was the Military Governor of Arkansas during the Civil War.

John Marmaduke was on the first State Railroad Commission and was a highly-respected Confederate General during the War of Northern Invasion/War of Southern Rebellion (depending on where you stood in those days).

David R. Francis is the first mayor elected to the governorship. He was the Mayor of St. Louis when he was chosen as governor.

William Stone was a county prosecutor for a couple of years and a Congressman for six more.

Alexander M. Dockery was a town council and Mayor of Gallatin before serving sixteen years in Congress and then becoming Governor.

Joseph Folk was the circuit attorney in St. Louis (the prosecutor) who made his reputation prosecuting corruption in the city government and the Baking Powder Scandal in the legislature.

Frederick Gardner was a coffin and hearse-maker in St. Louis who never sought office until he won the governorship in 1916 and never sought office again after his term.

Arthur Hyde was a two-term Mayor of Princeton, a lawyer and a car dealer.

Sam A. Baker was the State Superintendent of Schools, at the time an elective position, before becoming Governor.

Henry Caulfield was a one-term member of Congress and later the city counselor for St. Louis.

Guy B. Park was a relatively obscure circuit judge in Platte County when the Democratic candidate for Governor died a few weeks before the election in 1932.  Boss Tom Pendergast of Kansas City “suggested” he be the replacement.

Lloyd Stark had held no elective office before being elected governor although he did chair the state’s 1928 road bond campaign.

Forrest Donnell had been the city attorney of Webster Groves.

Phil Donnelly served two years in the House and twenty years in the Missouri Senate.

Joseph P. Teasdale was the youngest person elected Jackson County prosecutor.

I’ll be around

(This is the fifth in our series recounting the history of inaugurations.  It includes a lengthy list that is here for the historical record.)

When Eric Greitens becomes Governor of Missouri, there will be six living former governors: Nixon, Blunt, Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, and Bond.

In 2009, when Jay Nixon took office for his first term there were seven living former governors: Blunt, Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, and Hearnes.  Hearnes died later that year and Teasdale died in 2014.  The last time there were that many living former governors was when Arthur M. Hyde was inaugurated in 1921.

But has there been a time when there were more than seven?

We’ve combed some records to see if there ever was a time there were more than seven living former governors at the start of a new administration.  And the answer is yes.

John Sappington Marmaduke (inaugurated in 1885) had eight living former governors when he took office, including John Cummins Edwards, who was the youngest governor in state history when he took office in 1844.  His predecessor, Thomas Crittenden, also had eight living predecessors when he was sworn in in 1881.  Charles Hardin (1875) had eight living predecessors.  When Hamilton Gamble took over at the start of the Civil War after Claiborne Jackson fled to the Confederacy, there were eight predecessors including Jackson.

In 2009, when Jay Nixon took office there were seven living former governors: Blunt, Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, and Hearnes.  Hearnes died later that year and Teasdale died in 2014.  The last time there were that many living former governors was when Arthur M. Hyde was inaugurated in 1921.

Here’s some miscellaneous information about governors as we get closer to getting a new one

Governors before age 40:

Bond (first term) 33 years 10 months 2 days   Born 3/6/1939   Inaugurated 1/8/73

Blunt  34 years 1 month 21 days    Born 11/20/1970  Inaugurated 1/10/2005

Folk 35 years 2 months 12 days     Born 10/28/1869  Inaugurated 1/9/1905

Hadley  36 years 10 months 20 days   Born 2/20/1872 Inaugurated 1/9/1909

Fletcher  37 years 11 months 11 days  Born 1/22/1827  Inaugurated 1/2/1865

Stephens  38 years 22 days      Born 12/21/58   Inaugurated  1/11/1897

Edwards  38 years 4 months 26 days   Born 6/24/1806   Inaugurated 11/20/1844

Bond, Blunt, Folk, and Fletcher are the only governors to complete a term before they were 40.  Fletcher’s term was only two years under the constitution then in effect and Bond was defeated in his first re-election before winning a second term four years later.

Most Living Governors at time of governor’s inauguration:

8–John Marmaduke 1885, Crittenden 1881, Hardin 1875, Gamble 1861, C. F. Jackson 1861

7—Nixon 2009, Hyde 1921, Gardner 1917, Phelps 1877, Woodson 1873, Brown 1871, McClurg 1869, Hall 1864

Fewest living governors at time of inauguration:

0—McNair 1820 (first state governor)

1—Bates 1825, Williams 1825, Miller 1828

2—Bond 1973, Bond 1981. Dunklin 1832, Miller 1825

Governors living to see the most successors:

*15–Edwards 1844

10—Fletcher, 1865, McClurg 1869

9—MM Marmaduke 1885, King 1848, Major 1913

8—Polk 1857, Crittenden 1881, Park 1933, Hearnes 1965 (Greitens will be the eighth successor to Christopher Bond’s first term)

*Edwards’ remarkable record included 1857 when Trusten Polk resigned to go to the U.S. Senate after less than two months in office and Lt. Gov. Hancock L. Jackson served long enough to call the special election that put Robert Stewart in office; Claiborne F. Jackson’s abdication when he fled to the Confederacy after a year in office, the post-Civil War period when Governors had only two-year terms, the death of John Marmaduke and the succession of Albert Morehouse

Here’s a complete list if you’re up to reading all the way to the end:

Living Former Governors at each inauguration:

Greitens 2017—Nixon, Blunt, Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, Bond  6

Nixon 2013—Blunt, Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale (d. 2014)   6

Nixon 2009—Blunt, Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes (d. 2009)   7

Blunt 2005—Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes  6

Holden 2001—Wilson, Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes   5

Wilson 2000—Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes  4

Carnahan 1997—Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes  4

Carnahan 1993—Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes   4

Ashcroft 1989—Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes   3

Ashcroft 1985—Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes  3

Bond 1981—Teasdale, Hearnes  2

Teasdale 1977—Bond, Hearnes, Donnell (d. 1980)  3

Bond 1973—Hearnes, Donnell  2

Hearnes 1969—Dalton (d. 1972), Donnell, Stark (d. 1972)  3

Hearnes 1965—Dalton, Donnell, Caulfield (d. 1966), Stark  4

Dalton 1961—Blair (d. 1962), Donnelly (d. 1961), Smith (d. 1962), Caulfield, Stark   5

Blair 1957—Donnelly, Smith, Caulfield, Stark   4

Donnelly 1953—Smith, Donnell, Stark, Caulfield  4

Smith 1949—Donnell, Stark, Caulfield, Major (d. 1949)    4

Donnelly 1945—Stark, Caulfield, Park (d. 1946), Major, Hyde (d. 1947)   5

Donnell 1941—Stark, Caulfield, Park, Major, Hyde    5

Stark 1937—Caulfield, Park, Major, Hyde  4

Park 1933—Caulfield, Major, Hyde, Gardner (d. 1933), Baker (d. 1933)    5

Caulfield 1929—Major, Hyde, Baker, Gardner      4

Baker 1925—Major, Hyde, Hadley (d.1927), Dockery (d. 1926), Francis (d. 1927), Gardner  6

Hyde 1921—Major, Hadley, Dockery, Francis, Folk (d. 1923), Stephens (d. 1923), Gardner   7

Gardner 1917—Major, Hadley, Dockery, Francis, Folk, Stephens Stone (d. 1918)  7

Major 1913—Hadley, Dockery, Francis, Folk, Stephens, Stone   6

Hadley 1909—Dockery, Francis, Folk, Stephens, Stone, Crittenden (d. 1909)  6

Folk 1905—Dockery, Francis, Stephens, Stone, Crittenden   5

Dockery  1901—Francis, Stephens, Stone, Crittenden  4

Stephens 1897—Francis, Stone, Crittenden, McClurg (d. 1900), Fletcher (d. 1899)   5

Stone 1893—Francis, Crittenden, McClurg, Woodson (d. 1896), Fletcher    5

Francis 1889—Morehouse (d. 1891) Crittenden, McClurg, Woodson, Hardin (d.1892) Fletcher   6

*Morehouse 1887—Crittenden, McClurg, Woodson, Hardin, Fletcher, Edwards (d. 1888)  6

John Marmaduke 1885—Crittenden, McClurg, Woodson, Hardin, Fletcher, Phelps (d. 1886), Brown (d.1885) Edwards   8

Crittenden 1881—McClurg, Woodson, Hardin, Fletcher, Phelps, Brown, Hall (d. 1882), Edwards  8

Phelps 1877—McClurg, Woodson, Hardin, Fletcher, Brown, Hall, Edwards  7

**Hardin 1875—McClurg, Woodson, Fletcher, Brown, Hall, Edwards, Polk (d. 1876), H. Jackson (d. 1876)   8

**Woodson 1873—McClurg, Fletcher, Brown, Hall, Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson   7

**Brown 1871—McClurg, Fletcher, Hall, Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson, Stewart (d. 1871)  7

**McClurg 1869—Fletcher, Hall, Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson, Stewart, King (d. 1870)   7

Fletcher 1865—Hall, Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson, Stewart, King, Price (d. 1867)  7

*Hall 1864—Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson, Stewart, King, Price. MM Marmaduke (d. 1864) 7

*Gamble 1861—Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson, King, Price, C. F. Jackson (d. 1862), MM Marmaduke, Stewart  7

C. F. Jackson 1861—Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson, Stewart, King, Price, MM Marmaduke, Boggs (d.1860) 8

Stewart 1857—Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson, King, Price, Boggs, MM Marmaduke   7

*Hancock Jackson 1857—Edwards, Polk, King, Price, Boggs, MM Marmaduke   6

Polk 1857—Edwards, King, Price, Boggs, MM Marmaduke   5

Price 1853—Edwards, King, Boggs, MM Marmaduke 4

***King 1848—Edwards, Boggs, MM Marmaduke 3

Edwards 1844—Boggs, MM Marmaduke, Dunklin (d. 1844), Miller (d. 1846)   4

*MM Marmaduke 1844—Boggs, Dunklin, Miller  3

Reynolds 1840—Boggs, Dunklin, Miller   3

Boggs 1836—Dunklin, Miller, Williams (d. 1839)  3

Dunklin 1832—Miller, Williams   2

Miller  1828—Williams   1

*Miller 1825—Williams, McNair (d. 1826)  2

*Williams—1825—McNair  1

Bates—1824—McNair   1

McNair—1820—First state governor (Missouri admitted to the Union August 10, 1821)

*Morehouse succeeded John Marmaduke, who died in office

*Hall succeeded Hamilton Gamble, who died in office

*Gamble was installed in office July 31 1861 after Governor Jackson fled to the Confederacy

*Hancock Lee Jackson was Lt. Governor when Polk resigned in 1857 after serving the shortest term of any Missouri Governor to become a U. S. Senator. Jackson served until October, 1857 when Robert M. Stewart was sworn in after a special election.

*Meredith Miles Marmaduke succeeded Thomas Reynolds, who committed suicide Feb. 9, 1844.

*John Miller succeeded Frederick Bates, who died in office, and Abraham J. Williams, who became acting governor because Bates’ Lt. Governor, Benjamin Reeves, had resigned to join a surveying party for the Santa Fe Trail.

*Senate President pro Tem Abraham J. Williams served only long enough to call a special election to replace Frederick Bates, who had died.

**The 1865 Missouri Constitution limited governors to two years in office. The 1875 Constitution restored four-year terms

***King was elected on November 7, 1848 and sworn in thirteen days later, serving more than four years before Price’s term began with the now customary January inauguration.

The governors club

(This is the fourth in our series—we don’t know how many there will be eventually—leading to the inauguration of the state officials.)

January 20, 1953 was the day the nation’s most prestigious club was founded.  One claim says it’s the WORLD’s most exclusive group.  It has no clubhouse. No golf course.  No tennis courts. No swimming pool.  Today it numbers only four members.  A potential fifth member is weeks away from becoming qualified.

The club’s founding began on the day Dwight Eisenhower was inaugurated President.  Harry Truman met former President Herbert Hoover on the inaugural platform and Hoover said, “I think we ought to organize a former presidents club.”  Truman responded, “Fine.  You be the President of the club and I will be the Secretary.”

Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy have written in The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity, “Truman was a mortal enemy of Hoover’s, but he also knew that only Hoover had the experience and stature to overhaul the executive branch to meet the challenges of the nuclear age. As a result of their partnership, the Hoover Commission, which Congress created, Truman sanctioned, and Hoover chaired, produced the greatest transformation of the presidency in history…Every president who followed would have reason to thank them.”

When President Trump takes office in less than two months, there will be only five people alive who bore the burdens of leading the world’s greatest nation.  They are bound together by history.

Today the club includes two Bushes, a Carter, and a Clinton.  The most members it has ever had is six, when it had two Bushes, a Carter, a Clinton, a Ford, and a Reagan. Congress has passed legislation giving the Presidents Club formal recognition, with certain privileges.

Presidents, regardless of their differences with their predecessors, often have called on members of the club for advice and sometimes for specific missions. Some have grown close—Clinton and George H. W. Busch, for example.  Truman and Hoover for another.

When Eric Greitens becomes Governor of Missouri, there will be six living former governors: Nixon, Blunt, Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, and Bond.

A Missouri Governors Club exists only as a list of men who have held the office.  We know of no suggestion that the six living former governors would be interested in some kind of formal recognition of their shared executive experience. But they share a great deal in common.  Leading Missouri government, whether it has been for a few weeks, or for eight years has given them a perspective on power, opportunity, and obligation that no one else has. Would Governor Greitens profit from recognizing them, even calling them together from time to time, or simply calling them individually?   Only he will know if such a thing would be useful.  Only he will decide if there is value in a Missouri Governors Club, unofficial though it might be.

Our recollection is that it’s a tradition for the incoming governor to invite all former governors to take part in the inauguration but we do not recall a time when all of them did.  One special inauguration does come readily to mind—when Christopher Bond was sworn in for his first term in 1973, he invited the last previous Republican governor to be part of the event. And Forrest C. Donnell, who was sworn in later than usual in 1941 because of a dispute about the certification of the election, was there and stayed up real late for the celebration.  He was 88 by then, 95 when he died in 1980.

History awaits the governor Missouri will inaugurate on January 9.  But history remains in six men who have sat behind the desk Eric Greitens will sit behind.  And history is a useful thing to call upon in making decisions that will shape the future.