Speaking of—


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)


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.

Rookie camp

Newly-elected state representatives have finished a week of rookie camp.  There’s a more formal name for it, but that’s what it is—a week getting to know state institutions and facilities, names and places, finding out where their offices are and where the bathrooms are in the capitol, learning the protocols of being a state rep including how to address one another during debate, how to introduce legislation, and who are some of the people in the hallways who will be their new best friends.

The House has asked your correspondent to come in at the end of rookie camp and talk about the capitol press corps and their relationship to it, the history of the capitol and the legislature, and to admonish these new folks to do nothing that would embarrass themselves, the legislature, or their families back home while they’re serving.

Afterwards we split the group into two segments for behind the scenes tours.  Dana Miller, the Assistant Chief Clerk of the House (also Chairman of the State Capitol Commission) took one group and I took the other, then we switched.  She led her group through some of the hidden spaces of the building and I took my group into the public areas.

The tours gave both of us a chance to talk about the condition of the Capitol—and there’s a lot to talk about these days.  More than a year ago the legislature set aside forty million borrowed dollars to make long-delayed repairs to critical parts of the building’s substructure. The first part of that work was completed during rookie camp, the rebuilding of the south front steps, the east steps, the terraces and the carriage entrance.  For years water has leaked through increasingly chipped steps into the Capitol basement, weakening the entire area and contributing to mold problems in the basement where a lot of people work, eat, and hold hearings.  Several other much-needed repairs also have been made.

Next summer will see the start of phase two that will include repairs to the building’s exterior stone work, rebuilding the plaza on the river side of the building, repairs to the Fountain of the Centaurs, and more terrace work.

My part of the tour involved showing the folks some of the architectural features and decorations on the interior.  While the exterior of the building is getting the repairs and restorations it deserves, the interior continues to deteriorate.  We looked at several places of peeling paint, unrestored paintings by great artists, and poorly-lighted areas that keep visitors from enjoying and learning Missouri history from the artwork that makes our capitol unique.  We talked about the plans that began almost two decades ago to restore the interior of the building, plans that were stopped with the terrorist attacks in 2001 that forced diversion of the millions of dollars set aside for that work to make up for state government’s revenue loss in the wake of the economic drop after the attacks.

It’s hard to know where the restoration of our state’s greatest symbol will go next as it moves through its centennial era to the 100th anniversary of its dedication in 2024.  The bonding money will be used up by the second phase of superstructure work. The state budget is unlikely to grow, or grow very much, in coming years because of the current tax structure while financial demands for basic services and operations are expected to keep growing.  Given priorities such as education, health, mental health, prisons, and social services, it’s hard to think there will be much left over to make the inside of the Missouri Capitol the jewel its designers and builders wanted it to be.

The new people that voters elected to represent them in the legislature got a taste of the enormity of their obligations, possibilities, and responsibilities—as well as the possible pitfalls that await them—during rookie camp.

It has dawned on this observer that he covered his first story in the capitol in 1967, fifty years after the ancestors of today’s legislators held a one-day meeting in the unfinished House and Senate chambers so lawmakers who would not be back for the next session two years later could say they had served in the new capitol.  That means that I have covered and watched people like these rookies for half of the building’s history.  So I took the liberty to sermonize:

State capitols are intended to be grand representations of the greatness of their states. They are intended to be inspirations to citizens, statements of democracy, and symbols of the permanence, the stability, and the power of a state to care for and to protect its people.  The very motto of our state is carved in Latin on the south front: “Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.”  Not a few people.  ALL of the people.

Understanding that you are here to protect and care for ALL of the people, not just the powerful few who have the capacity to make you feel important will be one of your greatest challenges.

It is easy to speak in phrases of nobility and inspiration, statements of democracy and so forth because it is always easier to speak of nobility and dignity and greatness than it is to recognize shortcomings, deterioration, and decay.

So I urge you to see your capitol in its entirety and be unafraid to acknowledge that it suffers from inattention; that it is easy to say, “My office is fine” while ignoring a cracked column at the top, the quick and easy slathering-on of coat after coat of paint that covers problems but robs the building of its beauty and character, to ignore the cracked and peeling paint, the mold and leakage problems in the basement.  Notice your capitol and reflect on what else it says about government’s attitude toward its people—and whether you will spend your career just slathering on a coat of paint that covers, but will not solve, problems and masks a dingy reality that is easily ignored.  For in truth, this building also represents Missouri in ways too many choose to ignore.  Its deteriorating structure, its peeling paint, and its unrestored great works of art carry a message of needs unmet, problems uncorrected, responsibilities avoided, and obligations covered over. 

So welcome to OUR capitol.  But it is YOUR responsibility.  And it is not just the capitol; it is the entire state that is your responsibility.

There will be thirty-nine new members of the House and one person in the Senate who has not served in the legislature before when the General Assembly convenes under new state leadership in a few days.  While some see glasses half empty, we choose to see them half full—of opportunities that come with the fresh eyes of those who went through legislative rookie camp and those who are still going through their own rookie camps called transition.

So we lift our half-full glass.  Here’s to the rookies!

Protecting the guv

(Editor’s note:  We are now less than a month away from inaugurating a new governor.  We’ve gone back through the notes we have used to cover the dozen inaugurals we’ve covered and we’ve looked at some things we didn’t include in our coverage manuals to assemble several pieces that focus on the new governor and the ceremony that will put him in office. Our “Transitions” entry on November was the first in the series.  This is the second):

My old friend “Cutter” Short, who used to hang around reporters at the Capitol years and years ago, back when the reporters were in Rooms 200 and 318, sent an email after reading the “Transition” entry a few days ago and reading the mention of the security arrangements the new governor will have to deal with.  “Dalton told Amos and me in ’66 that until ’63 he had no protection.  After that, a trooper rode with him but that was about it as I recall,” he wrote.

He was talking about Governor John Dalton (1961-65) and United Press International bureau chief Rael Amos.  Until then, Missouri Governors walked around and drove around pretty much as they pleased, with a couple of exceptions.   

Governor Thomas T. Crittenden (1881-85), who persuaded railroad interests to post $5,000 reward for arrest of Jesse James, kept his .44 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver in his desk.  The pistol is now held by the state museum. 

Governor Lloyd Stark (1937-41) didn’t carry a gun as far as we know, but the Highway Patrol assigned troopers to escort him and to protect the Governor’s Mansion because Stark was working with federal authorities to prosecute a big fraud case in the Insurance Department that ultimately brought down Kansas City boss Tom Pendergast—and several death threats had been received.

Otherwise, governors didn’t have security details.  

The Highway Patrol’s history recounts that Superintendent Hugh Waggoner one day early in 1963 summoned Trooper Richard Radford to his office and told him to report for duty the next morning in civilian clothes.  They went to Governor Dalton’s office where Waggoner introduced Radford to Dalton as his full-time security officer.  Waggoner took the steps because Dalton had gotten death threats.  There was no training available for Radford so he made things up as he went along. 

The security for Dalton’s successor Warren Hearnes, was increased.  Hearnes liked to fly, so the Patrol provided a plane and a pilot who doubled as a security officer.  As time went by, the duties were separated so there was a pilot and a security officer when Hearnes wanted to fly. 

Christopher Bond got a death threat not long after he was elected as the youngest governor in Missouri history.  He issued an executive order not long after taking office in 1973 establishing a special unit within the Highway Patrol to provide protection around the clock. 

Joseph Teasdale increased security at the Governor’s Mansion because prison inmates worked there and he, as a former prosecutor, wanted to make sure he and his family were safe.

There is at least one time when a governor traveled without a security officer—well, twice, that we know of.  One is a personal story. 

Governor Carnahan got his own pilot’s license and one night showed up at the Columbia Flying Service office wanting to fly to Hermann.  Somebody had to fly the plane back to Columbia because Carnahan was going to meet his wife, Jean, and their security officer, have dinner in Hermann and fly on to a fundraiser in St. Louis.  Your correspondent’s son, Rob, was a flight instructor at the time so he flew to Hermann with the Governor.  The Carnahans had him join them for dinner before he flew back.   

Another time Governor Carnahan flew without a Highway Patrol security officer was October 16, 2000.  The security division, as the Patrol puts it, had been “pressed to the limit of its manpower” and chose not to put an officer on the plane but have someone meet the governor when he arrived in New Madrid for a fund-raising event.  Later that evening a Highway Patrolman on duty at the mansion had to tell Jean Carnahan what had happened.  

It was difficult to identify the remains in the wreckage which is why, today, Governor Greitens and his family members will be fingerprinted and will give DNA samples. 

Security was stepped up after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  The legislature passed a law in 2005 creating the Governor’s Security Division to protect the Governor and his immediate family and to provide transportation. 

What began with one trooper whose only equipment was “a suit, a concealed weapon, and an unmarked car,” is now a corps of specially-trained Highway Patrolmen whose job for at least the next four years is to keep Missouri’s human state SEAL and his family safe. 


In a year that will not be remembered for its examples of grace, especially public grace, the sports world provided one at a time when anger and giant disappointment could have produced an example of ugliness.

Columbia racing driver Carl Edwards showed us a prime example of grace in this graceless year. For those who do not follow automobile racing as we do, here’s some background. .

Carl has been competing at NASCAR’s highest level for a dozen years.  He has finished second twice in the championship standings.  He is one of four extremely talented drivers who compete at this level for Joe Gibbs, the former NFL coach whose teams won three Super Bowls.

NASCAR determines is champion each year by taking the top sixteen drivers in points after the first twenty-six races and putting them through a series of elimination rounds until four drivers remain in the last race of the season to compete for the championship.  Carl Edwards made it to the final four by winning a race in the semifinal round at a time when he was on the verge of elimination because an earlier crash had left him far out of contention.

One of his competitors in the last race was teammate Kyle Busch, who had won the championship in a miracle season last year after missing the first eleven races with injuries.  Another competitor was Jimmie Johnson, who was hoping to win the championship for a record-tying seventh time.   The other competitor was Joey Logano, a young driver who has matured and succeeded driving for Roger Penske, one of the biggest names in motorsports competition.  Now, let’s set the scene:

The championship is within Carl’s grasp with just ten laps left after the racers have been slowed under a caution flag caused by an incident with another car.  He is on the inside of the front row, a prime place to reassert his leadership when the green flag is waved to go racing again.   If he can get a good jump, he’ll be running in clean air—a critical factor in cars designed to take advantage of aerodynamics—and headed for that elusive title.

Logano knows he has one shot at getting past him on that restart.  He dives low going into the first turn. Very low.  Carl knows his only hope is to drop low in the track to block Logano.   The front of Logano’s car touches the rear bumper of Edwards’ car, sending Edwards into the inside wall, then bouncing back across the track through traffic where he is hit from behind with such force by another driver that his car goes up on the other car’s hood before spinning off into the outside wall.  All hope of the championship is gone after what he called “the race of my life up to then.”

Few of us ever know the pressures of competing for anything at this level. And the intensity of “this level” is hard for any of us to imagine.  There are no halftimes, no timeouts, no free throws where you can catch your breath.  There are no shift changes as in hockey.  There are no innings that are split into two parts.  This is three or four hours in a fire-protective suit, sitting in a metal oven at temperatures of one-hundred-thirty degrees, travelling at frightening speeds (to you and me) surrounded by thirty-nine other people seeking the same thing you are seeking. And you are doing it at three times the speed limit with no rumble stripes to remind you that you have one of your wheels an inch from where it should be.

You are so close to being the very best in this sport that you can touch it.  And then in two seconds you are sitting in your stopped, wadded-up, smoking car knowing that everything you have worked for during the last nine months is now impossible.  One of your competitors has wrecked your car and your hopes.

NASCAR requires drivers whose cars crash out of a race to go to an infield care hospital to be checked for injuries, including concussions.  Track workers escort the driver from the wreckage of their car to an ambulance which whisks them away.  But that didn’t happen with Carl Edwards, who watched a replay of the crash on a big video screen that tracks have, and then walked with his NASCAR escort through the pits to Joey Logano’s pit.

That is not normally a good sign.  Angry words are often exchanged or shouted.  We’ve seen punches thrown.

Carl Edwards climbed to the top of a stand where Logano’s crew chief and others were sitting.  And he told them the crash was entirely his fault, that he wished Logano well, and shook hands with the guys on Logano’s pit box. “That’s just racing,” he told them. “Good luck to you guys.”

In an interview after getting checked at the infield hospital, he said, “I pushed the issue as far as I could because I figured that was the race there…I couldn’t go to bed tonight and think that I gave him that lane.” Logano finished second in the race behind Johnson, who dodged the crash and led the last two laps for become champion for the seventh time.

“We were racing for the championship and that’s the race,” said Logano afterwards.  And he echoed Carl Edwards, “That’s just racing.”

After the roar of the race, after the take-no-prisoners competition for their sport’s highest honor the neither achieved—

there was grace,

a reminder in this graceless time that the quality still is within us.  And it is not demeaning to show it.


Several years ago your observer was strolling through the Capital Mall when he spied Lt. Governor Bill Phelps and his wife, Joanne, having a casual lunch in the food court.  They probably had driven to the mall and had done their shopping with few if any distractions from fellow shoppers. I remarked to him as they sat surrounded by other folks who were paying them no mind, “You know, if you win the election this year, you won’t be able to do this.”   Phelps was running in the primary against Christopher Bond who wanted to get his old job back from Joe Teasdale.  It was 1980.

Phelps lost the primary and probably has been eating his meals out for these last thirty-six years without any hassles from the voting public.

But had he won and then defeated Teasdale, his life would have changed. The Phelpses probably wouldn’t have driven their own car to the mall.  They likely would have been chauffeured by a Highway Patrolman.  And they wouldn’t be shopping anonymously because people would recognize that The Governor(!) was in their midst.  They’d be living in a great big house that would not contain much of their own furniture.  Somebody with a badge and a gun—sometimes more than one somebody—would be with them wherever they went.

We recall that John Ashcroft had a Mustang he liked to drive.   He didn’t get the chance to do that much after he became governor.

Ashcroft, Bond, and Phelps had some understanding of the transition to the governorship because they had been in public life at increasingly higher circles. They knew that the private life would diminish markedly when they became the state’s highest-ranking public official.

Transitions for incoming governors involve far more, however, than coming to grips with the fact that your life is not yours any more.  The responsibilities of being a public servant, the state’s highest public official, can be beyond the expectations of the candidates who seek that job.

So while an incoming governor who has no previous public office experience has to spend the two months between election and inauguration preparing to meet the challenges of governing, he and his family also have to come to grips with any number of personal issues.  What do we do with our house?  What about our furniture?  What things are so meaningful to us personally that we want to take them to the Executive Mansion so it feels like home?  What about schools?  How will we adjust to having a security officer with us?   How will we deal with a loss of our personal freedom?  How will the family deal with the things that are likely to be said about the husband and father who happens to be the Governor of Missouri?

Here we offer a slight diversion because the spotlight might be on the new governor but it also shines, at least in its dimmer edges, on his family, particularly on the person who is to become the state’s First Lady.   What are her obligations?

Most First Ladies have adopted a public role in one form or another.  But one First Lady was different and because she was, future First Ladies might owe her a debt.  Theresa Teasdale wanted nothing to do with the spotlight.  She was not Mrs. Governor.  She was Mrs. Teasdale, wife and mother.  She didn’t advocate for a particular cause (as we recall).  She and Joe did not make the mansion a great social event location.  It was their home.  It was where the Teasdale family lived.  It was a house where there was a family that was apart from the intense world of governing. This reporter tried to interview her once and came away almost embarrassed that he had intruded.  Theresa Teasdale was a First Lady who made it alright for future First Ladies to remain private citizens.

The new governor thus has two transitions to deal with—the personal and the public.  He has just two months to assemble a team of people in his office as well as those who will lead state agencies.   He realizes he will inherit a state budget sixty percent of the way through a fiscal year and will have to immediately deal with possible income shortfalls; Governor Nixon already has withheld tens of millions of dollars to keep the budget balanced.  He will have to prepare his first major address to a joint session of the legislature outlining budget recommendations for a fiscal year that will start July 1 and outline issues he hopes the legislature will pass laws about.

And that’s just the surface.  He also is responsible for finding and appointing about 1,700 people to state boards and commissions.  About 1,300 of those nominations will have to be pleasing enough to the Senate to be confirmed.

We checked with Scott Holste, who has been on Governor Nixon’s staff as governor and attorney general for more than twenty years, and Scott reminded us that the governor also has to make appointments to fill vacancies caused by death or resignation or conviction of judge in circuits that aren’t part of the Non-partisan Court Plan.  He also appoints prosecutors and county officials as needed in non-charter counties.  And he has to make appointments of judges from lists submitted to him under that same court plan.

There’s another important component that has to be decided.  How public will the administration of the state’s top public official be?   What will be his relations with the press?  It’s not a parochial question.  How open will he allow his administration to be in providing expertise to those with questions about public policy issues?  Will he allow department staffs with expertise to provide information to the public or will he limit the flow of information by limiting access to them—as, to be frank, the current administration has done in many agencies?  The operative word in the phrase “public official” should be public.

We have scratched the surface of what a governor-elect has to go through to be ready to govern as soon as he takes the oath of office.  It’s a steep, steep learning curve even for those who have been in and around state elective office.  To go from private citizen to public leader relatively overnight is a major test.

All of this is why a two-month well-organized transition effort is essential but why it also is highly stressful, not just on the governor-elect but on his family—because life on January 8th will likely be worlds different by the end of January 9th.