Colorado State Publications Blog

Governor’s Inauguration

On January 8 Colorado’s new Governor, Jared Polis, and Lt. Governor, Dianne Primavera, will be sworn in. Official ceremonies will take place on the grounds of the State Capitol in the morning, with the inaugural speech at 11am. See this article from The Denver Post for more details on the inaugural events.

If you’re near the Capitol Tuesday morning, you might be wondering about the frequent cannon booms. Cannon are being set off to mark the inaugural festivities and salute the governor. According to the U.S. Military, the number of gun salutes depends on the person’s rank, title, or office. Presidents, as well as heads of foreign countries, get a 21-gun salute; a state governor “only” merits a 19-gun salute. Click here to find out the number of salutes for various political offices and military ranks. On the U.S. Army site you can also learn about the history of gun salutes. The US Dept. of Veterans Affairs also has a brief history on their website.

In our library collection we have transcripts of the inaugural speeches of many of Colorado’s past governors, back to the 1880s. Also be sure to search our library’s online catalog for more information on past governors, including state-of-the-state speeches, executive orders, commission reports, budgets, and more.


Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado’s First Ladies

March is Women’s History Month, an appropriate time to recognize the First Ladies of our state.  Whether they came to Colorado as pioneers or worked to leave the state a better place, these ladies led very interesting lives. In the 1960s and ’70s Helen Cannon of the Colorado Historical Society profiled a number of the state’s earliest first ladies in Colorado Magazine, which is now available online.  The following ladies were profiled.

Finally, for a look at some of the more recent First Ladies, see the Colorado Historical Society’s book Queen of the Hill: The Private Life of the Colorado Governor’s Mansion, available for checkout from our library.

Julia Pratte Gilpin
Margaret Gray Evans
Ellen Kellogg Hunt
Mary Thompson McCook
Josephine Evans Elbert
Eliza Pickrell Routt
Fidelia James Pitkin
Mary Goodell Grant
Rebecca Hill Eaton
Ella Nye Adams
Jane Barnes Cooper
Celia Crane Waite
Emma Fletcher Thomas
Nellie Martin Orman
Frances Clelland Peabody
Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: State of the State Speeches

The 2018 legislative session begins tomorrow, and traditionally the first week of the session includes a “State of the State” speech from the governor to the legislature as well as a “State of the Judiciary” speech from the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court.  Looking back on historical speeches provides valuable insight on the economy, politics, and culture of the state at that time as well as on the processes of state government.  You can find many of these speeches online from our library.

Trivia:  Which Colorado governor said the following in their State of the State address?  (Answers below).

1.  “It’s inspiring to stand here with you at the state of a new legislative session.  Actually, it’s a little like fly fishing.  Fly fishing is about hope and possibilities.  Every time you cast a line, drop a fly onto the water or move to a new spot, there’s a new opportunity for a promising return.”

2.  “This is serious business which is committed to you and to me.  We cannot do it creditably unless we have sufficient breadth of view and strength of character to keep on terms of mutual respect.”

3.  “Amid a storm of invectives such as no previous governor of the state has ever encountered, and which insisted that the present state executive should violate his oath of office and surrender his conscience into the hands of a moneyed aristocracy, a special session of the general assembly was called and held one year ago.”

4.  “Balancing the books is not the sexy stuff, but if the budget is wrong, nothing else can be right.  Just ask Congress.”

1.  Bill Ritter, 2009.  
2.  Henry Buchtel, 1907.
3.  Davis Waite, 1895.
4.  John Hickenlooper, 2014.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Governors: Samuel Elbert

Colorado’s highest mountain bears the name of Samuel H. Elbert, territorial governor of Colorado from 1873-74.  Elbert County is also named for him.
Originally from Ohio, Elbert, a lawyer, moved to Nebraska in 1854 and became heavily involved in Republican politics.  He campaigned hard for Abraham Lincoln and through this campaign met John Evans, future territorial governor of Colorado.  When Evans became governor, Elbert came to Colorado as his territorial secretary, which you can read more about in the Colorado Magazine article “Colorado’s Territorial Secretaries.”  Elbert also married John Evans’ daughter Josephine.  Elbert went on to serve in the territorial legislature.
President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Elbert as governor of the territory after the removal of Edward McCook by public petition.  Elbert was a popular governor, but McCook, a Civil War general, was a friend of Grant’s, so the president reinstated him in office after just one year.
After statehood, Elbert went on to become Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court. He died in 1899.

At 14,439′, Mount Elbert is Colorado’s highest peak.
Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Governors: Edward McCook

Edward Moody McCook served two non-consecutive terms as territorial governor.  Originally from Ohio, McCook had come to Colorado during the 1859 Gold Rush.  He settled in Central City and set up a successful law practice.  He returned east to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War, attaining the rank of Brigadier General.  McCook received his promotion for gallantry at the battle of Chickamauga.  As General he commanded cavalry during Sherman’s March to Atlanta, and then moved south through Alabama to Florida, where he accepted the surrender of Florida and served a short time as Military Governor.  It was during McCook’s service in the Union Army that he got to know Ulysses Grant.
Following the war, McCook’s acquaintance with Grant first earned him the appointment to the post of Territorial Governor of Colorado in 1869, which came after an appointment by President Johnson as U.S. Minister to Hawaii.  Grant removed Colorado Territory’s preceding governor, Alexander Cameron Hunt, from office to appoint McCook in his place.  This did nothing to endear McCook to Coloradans, who had generally liked Governor Hunt.  In 1873 citizens put forth a petition to remove the unpopular McCook from office, and he was replaced by Samuel Elbert, son-in-law of former Territorial Governor John Evans.  (For more on the rivalry between McCook and Elbert, see this article from Colorado Magazine). After serving just one year, the popular Elbert was removed from office and McCook was reinstated.
Despite his lack of popularity, McCook’s governorship proved quite productive.  He was instrumental in developing Colorado’s public school system, and both the Colorado School of Mines and the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind were created under his watch.  McCook prioritized funding for public schools, and created the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction.  (You can read the Superintendent’s biennial reports online courtesy of our library).  W.C. Lothrop was the first person to serve in that position; today it is known as the Commissioner of Education.  McCook also established a Board of Immigration to promote Colorado, and was an early advocate of women’s suffrage.
The Colorado State Archives writes that during McCook’s second term, “political upheaval, grasshopper infestations that destroyed Colorado crops, and numerous mining disputes created an atmosphere of tension in his administration.”  Therefore he was again removed from office, this time after only serving nine months.  During the remainder of his career McCook invested in mining, railroads, and telephones.  He died in Chicago in 1909 and is buried in his hometown of Steubenville, Ohio.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Governors: Alexander Cameron Hunt

Colorado’s fourth territorial governor, Republican Alexander Hunt, was appointed to lead the territory on April 24, 1867.  Hunt had grown up in Freeport, Illinois, where he eventually served as mayor.  Lured by the California Gold Rush in 1850, Hunt stayed in California until a new gold discovery was made in Colorado in 1858.  Relocating to the new territory, Hunt became judge of the territory’s Vigilante Committee, which used hangings to deter mobs and desperadoes from terrorizing Colorado prospectors.  Hunt also served as a US Marshal for Colorado as well as Ex-Officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs.  Hunt ran for a seat as a territorial delegate to Congress but lost the race; soon after he was appointed territorial governor.

The influx of settlers in Colorado Territory led to increasing unrest among the Plains Indians tribes during this time period, and soon the Utes from the Colorado mountains joined the plains tribes to resist the white settlers.  To address the situation Hunt brought together Ute chiefs, Indian agents, and federal officials to negotiate a peace treaty in 1868.  This did not solve the situation, however, because the US did not keep its promises of supplying food and supplies, further adding to the tribes’ discontent.  It would be up to later governors to continue negotiations with the tribes.

Governor Hunt was relieved of duty in 1869 because President Grant wanted to appoint a friend, Edward McCook, to the post.  Governor Hunt continued to live in Colorado, however, becoming involved with agriculture and railroad development.  He died in 1894.

Several articles about Hunt are available from our library in the Colorado Magazine, including

Colorado Magazine also published several articles about Governor Hunt’s family:

Also be sure to search Colorado’s Historic Newspapers Collection for articles about Governor Hunt and his family.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Governors: Alexander Cummings

After the resignation of John Evans, Alexander Cummings (served 1865-1867) was appointed Territorial Governor of Colorado by President Andrew Johnson. Cummings had previously served as a special purchasing agent for the War Department during the Civil War and, after being discharged from this post, had in February 1864 attained the rank of Brigadier General and Superintendent of Troops of African Descent for the State of Arkansas.  Originally from Pennsylvania, Cummings’ pre-war career had been as a newspaperman.
In Colorado, Cummings differed markedly from his predecessor.  Although both governors were Republicans, Cummings — unlike Evans — opposed statehood, and caused a deep divide between himself and those Coloradans working toward attaining statehood.  Amidst this and other controversies, Cummings left Colorado after less than two years to return to his native Pennsylvania, holding several posts with the federal government.  He died in 1879.
In 1957 William Hanchett wrote an article for Colorado Magazine about the turbulent governorship of Alexander Cummings, who Hanchett called “the villain of Colorado’s territorial history.”  You can read the article online or check out a copy from our library.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Governors: John Evans

Colorado’s second territorial governor, John Evans, is remembered for his many contributions to the development of Denver, including bringing the railroad to the young town and founding the Colorado Seminary, which became the University of Denver.  Evans is also remembered for being disgraced by his role in the Sand Creek Massacre and his subsequent resignation as governor.
Originally from Ohio, Evans was a medical doctor who, after moving to Chicago, quickly rose to the top ranks of his field.  He helped found Chicago’s Mercy Hospital and Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois, home of Northwestern, is named for him), founded the Illinois Medical Society, taught at Rush Medical College, and made several innovations in the field of obstetrics.  In addition to his medical work, Evans also invested in railroads, which brought him wealth.  Evans used his wealth to involve himself in Republican politics and became an avid supporter of Abraham Lincoln.  The President showed his gratitude by offering Evans the governorship of Washington Territory, which Evans declined; however, Evans accepted when Lincoln offered Colorado Territory a year later.  Evans served as territorial governor from 1862 to 1865.
In Colorado Evans continued his interest in railroads, using his influence to encourage the railroad builders to build to Denver, ensuring that the city would thrive.  He also worked with William N. Byers and others to encourage settlement in Colorado.  A devout Methodist, Evans got to know Colonel John Chivington, a Methodist minister, through their work in establishing the Colorado Seminary, which was founded in March 1864.  That summer, Indian attacks on white settlers and transportation systems caused many to call for their governor to do something to protect civilians.  Evans failed to create policy that would bring peace, so in November 1864, while Evans was away in Washington, D.C., Col. Chivington and his Colorado Volunteers attacked a peaceful camp of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians at Sand Creek.  Because most of the victims of the massacre were women, children, and the elderly, Coloradans and Congress alike were indignant, and Governor Evans was forced to resign.*
Although Evans’ political career had ended, his influence in Colorado had not, and until his death in 1897 he continued to be recognized as one of Denver’s leading citizens.  He was responsible for finding the financing to bring the Union Pacific Railroad from Cheyenne to Denver in 1870 (Cheyenne being on the Transcontinental Railroad) and continued to serve on the Board of Trustees for both Colorado Seminary and Northwestern University until his death.  Today, Mount Evans, Denver’s Evans Avenue, and the city of Evans, Colorado are all named for the governor.  Evans’ children were also important in Denver’s history.  William G. Evans ran the Denver Tramway Company, Anne Evans helped to found the Denver Art Museum and the Central City Opera, and Josephine Evans married a later Colorado governor, Samuel Elbert.
In our library you can find many resources about Governor Evans, the Evans family, and the Sand Creek Massacre.  There is a lengthy bio starting on page 10 in Volume 4 of the Colorado Historical Society’s 1927 History of Colorado.  Also, Colorado: A History of the Centennial State (University Press of Colorado, 2005), which can be checked out from our library, covers Evans in depth, particularly regarding his financing of the railroad.  Evans is also profiled in several Colorado Magazine and Colorado Heritage articles:

  • Regarding Evans’ influence on the railroads, see articles in the Spring 1973 issue.
  • For articles on Sand Creek, see the Fall 1964 and Fall 1968 issues.
  • To learn about Evans’ role in an early bid for statehood, see the January 1931 issue.
  • For biographies of the two Evans first ladies — Evans’ wife, Margaret, and daughter Josephine Evans Elbert — see the January 1962 and October 1962 issues, respectively.
  • Issue 4, 1989 of Colorado Heritage explores the history of the Byers and Evans families upon the opening of the Byers-Evans House as a museum.  Governor Evans did not live in the 1883 house, but it was home to his descendants.

Finally, Evans’ gubernatorial records and a short bio are available from Colorado State Archives.
*In 2014 Northwestern University, which Evans had founded, undertook a study to determine Evans’ role in the massacre.  The study concluded that while “no known evidence indicates that John Evans helped plan the Sand Creek Massacre or had any knowledge of it in advance,” Evans “nonetheless was one of several individuals who, in serving a flawed and poorly implemented federal Indian policy, helped create a situation that made the Sand Creek Massacre possible.”  The study continued that after the massacre Evans tried to rationalize and even defend it; and “his recollections of the event displayed complete indifference to the suffering inflicted on Cheyennes and Arapahos.”  Therefore, the University concluded that its founder “deserves institutional recognition for his central and indispensable contributions to the establishment of Northwestern and its development through its early decades, but the University has ignored his significant moral failures before and after Sand Creek.  This oversight goes against the fundamental purposes of a university and Northwestern’s own best traditions, and it should be corrected.”

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Governors: William Gilpin

The first governor of Colorado Territory, William Gilpin, was appointed by Abraham Lincoln and served 1861-62.  Born in Pennsylvania in 1813, Gilpin participated in several western expeditions in the 1840s, served as a Major in the Mexican-American War, and was made a General in charge of protecting white settlers on the Santa Fe Trail.  When the Civil War broke out, Governor Gilpin helped raise troops to defend Colorado Territory from Confederate invasion.  He was removed from office a the following year after bringing the territory into debt.  Gilpin’s post-gubernatorial career focused on railroad expansion.  He died in 1894; Gilpin County is named for him.

Publications from Gilpin’s governorship are rare, but you can come to our library to view the 1861 House Journal of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Colorado.  Secondary sources on Gilpin include several articles in Colorado Magazine, including

  • “The Civil Administration of Governor William Gilpin,” by Sheldon S. Zweig, in the July 1954 issue
  • “My Recollections of William Gilpin,” by Clarence S. Jackson, which is Jackson’s recollections of Gilpin’s visits to his boyhood home in the 1880s.  Jackson’s father was the famed photographer William Henry Jackson.  This article appears in the July 1949 issue.
  • “William Gilpin:  Sinophile and Eccentric,” by Kenneth Porter, which discusses his views on the Chinese and railroads, in the October 1960 issue.  
  • “William Gilpin and the Destruction of the Desert Myth,” in the Spring 1969 issue, which explores how Gilpin served as one of the West’s great promoters and sought to shatter the myth of the “Great American Desert.”

You can also find a biography of Gilpin’s wife, Julia, in “Colorado’s First Ladies:  Julia Pratte Gilpin,” in the October 1961 issue.

For more resources on all of Colorado’s governors visit our library’s web catalog.

Photo courtesy Colorado State Archives

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Davis Waite and the City Hall War

Davis Waite

Colorado’s only third-party governor, Davis Waite, was elected in 1892 as a member of the Populist Party.  In the era of progressive reforms and worker unrest, Populists advocated “an eight-hour workday, employees’ liability legislation, a child labor law, and state operation of coal mines.”1 Populism swept Colorado that year, with 57{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} of Colorado voters backing Populist presidential candidate James Weaver.  In addition to electing Waite as governor, Colorado also sent thirty-nine Populists to the State Legislature. Waite is often remembered for the nickname given him by his opponents — “Bloody Bridles” Waite.  The sobriquet came from one of Waite’s speeches, where he declared that it was “better that blood should flow to the horses’ bridles, than our national liberties be destroyed.”
The Populists’ day was short, however.  The following year, 1893, Colorado and the nation suffered an enormous financial panic that left as many as 45,000 Coloradans out of work.  In the 1894 election (at that time governors served two-year terms), Waite was easily unseated by Republican Albert W. McIntire, who decried Waite’s support of labor unions and progressive reforms.  The nail in the coffin of Waite’s governorship, however, was what has come to be known as the City Hall War.

At that time, the governor had the authority to appoint members of the Denver Fire and Police Board, which had been created by the Legislature in 1891.  When two of Waite’s appointees did not, in his opinion, do enough to suppress vice in Denver, he ordered them to step down.  Disagreeing with the governor about their effectiveness, the two appointees refused to resign and barricaded themselves inside City Hall.  In response, Waite ordered the Colorado militia to forcibly remove the two men.  County sheriffs and Denver police, along with a contingent of shady characters led by Soapy Smith, posted armed guards at the building to protect the board members.  Everyone wondered which side would fire first.  Fortunately, it never came to that.  A group of leading Denver citizens, including newspaperman William Byers and railroad baron David Moffat, convinced Waite to take the matter to the state Supreme Court instead.  The court ruled that while the governor did have the authority to remove the board members, he did not have the authority to order in the National Guard for that purpose.  In the end, the incident brought embarrassment to the city and crushed Waite’s popularity.

In his final address as governor, available online from our library, Waite had no apologies for his actions in the City Hall War, claiming that his appointees had profited from blackmail.  “This practice of blackmail has been by no means confined to the city of Denver…it prevails in New York, Chicago, St. Louis, and nearly all the principal cities of the country, to such an extent that municipal corruption has become a national disgrace.”  (It was around this same time that Theodore Roosevelt began instituting reforms in his role as police commissioner in New York).  Waite defended his actions by saying — in his customary hyperbole — that “I had rather die a thousand deaths than to allow a single prerogative that constitutionally belongs to my office, to be taken away while I am governor.”  Waite’s narrative of the City Hall War, on pages 45-51 of the address, provides a fascinating firsthand  account of the incident.  Waite’s letter to the Colorado National Guard is also reprinted in the document:  “I can enforce the laws, but not without great bloodshed.  As governor of the state I call on you to assist me in preserving order and preventing bloodshed.”

Crowds wait outside the Denver City Hall (14th and Larimer) waiting to see what will happen.

The document also contains the inaugural address of the new governor, Albert McIntire:  “On assuming the duties of the chief executive office of the state, it cannot be out of place for me to call attention to the meaning and intention of the people…that the law is to be impartially administered and enforced, regardless of so-called class, condition or party affiliation; and that the supremacy of the law is to be maintained at all hazards” — a direct jab at his predecessor.

For more governor’s speeches and other resources, search our online catalog.

1 Abbott, Carl, Stephen J. Leonard, and Thomas J. Noel, Colorado:  A History of the Centennial State, University Press of Colorado, 2005.  Available for checkout from the State Publications Library.
Photos courtesy Colorado State Archives and Denver Public Library Western History Department.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: A Governor's View of Colorado Political History

This Election Day, as history is being made in our state, let’s step back and take a look at the first fifty years of Colorado politics.

Early governors, from History of Colorado.
In 1927, the State Historical and Natural History Society of Colorado (later the Colorado Historical Society, and now History Colorado) issued an illustrated five-volume History of Colorado.  (All five volumes are available digitally from our library).  Edited by James Baker and LeRoy Hafen — still considered to be one of the most significant Colorado historians — the five detailed volumes examine nearly every aspect of our state’s history, including Indians and early white settlement; government; industry and economics; geology and geography; mining, agriculture, and industry; forestry and natural resources; transportation; law; medicine; the military; “woman’s contribution;” education; religion; and arts and culture.  Volumes 4 and 5 present biographies of important Coloradans (or, likely, some who paid to be included).
The section on Colorado politics can be found in in Volume 3.  It covers in detail Colorado’s achievement of statehood through the post-WWI period.  Discussed are some of the more controversial elections of governors and U.S. Senators, as well as strife between Democrats and Republicans, and the influence of the mining industry on Colorado politics.  What sets it apart from other histories of Colorado politics, however, is that it was authored by a former Colorado governor.
Charles S. Thomas, a Democrat, served as Governor of Colorado from 1899 to 1901 — when Colorado was recovering from the Crash of 1893.  Originally from Georgia, Thomas earned a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1871 and moved to Denver soon after, setting up practice as a mining attorney.  He became Denver City Attorney in 1875 and later, in private practice, partnered with future U.S. Senator Thomas M. Patterson.  Charles S. Thomas was elected governor in 1898 and then went on to serve as U.S. Senator from 1913 to 1921.  He died in 1934.
For more election history and information on Colorado elected officials, search our library’s online catalog.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Governor Lamm's Executive Orders

Colorado governors’ executive orders are divided into three categories:  1) A Orders, which appoint individuals to boards and commissions, judges, and other political appointments; 2) B Orders, which establish new boards, commissions, councils, and task forces; and 3) D Orders, which contain state government policies and organization changes as well as disaster declarations and mobilization of the Colorado National Guard. 

Our library has digitized the B Orders and D Orders from the Lamm administration (1975-1987) and they are now available online.  (Digitization of the A Orders is currently in process).  View Governor Lamm’s Executive Orders to learn about major flooding in the mountains and on the Western Slope; energy conservation; a 1981 tornado in metro Denver; access to public records; state employee benefits; mapping the state; and much more.

Colorado State Publications Blog

The Governor's Residence at the Boettcher Mansion

The Colorado governor’s mansion, officially named the Governor’s Residence at the Boettcher Mansion, is the “White House” of Colorado.  It is the official residence for Colorado governors as well as the site of many official state functions.  (Where it differs from the White House, however, is that the governor does not have his office there — his office is in the State Capitol).
The 1907-08 mansion is a showplace filled with furnishings and artifacts relating to Colorado and to the Boettcher family, who offered the mansion to the State in 1959.  That year, the Legislature split on whether to accept the mansion, and the gift was initially rejected and would have been torn down if Governor Stephen L.R. McNichols hadn’t stepped in at the last minute to accept the gift from the Boettcher Foundation.  The McNichols family moved into the mansion in 1961.
You can read about the history of the mansion (and see some wonderful photographs) in the book Queen of the Hill:  The Private Life of the Colorado Governor’s Mansion, available for checkout from our library.  I also posted some basic history on the mansion in a 2007 posting; since then, the official website of the mansion has changed.  The new site contains a virtual tour of the home along with information on event scheduling and a link to the Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund site, which contains more information about the mansion and how Coloradans can get involved.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Ralph Carr Salutes Delph Carpenter

Ralph Carr

Colorado Governor Ralph L. Carr (served 1939-1943) is best known for standing up for Japanese Americans during WWII.  But Carr was also interested in water rights, working as an attorney for the Colorado Interstate River Commission.  This brought him into contact with Delph Carpenter, known by many as the “father of Colorado river treaties,” and the two became close friends.  Delph Carpenter, a lawyer from Greeley, devoted his career to the development of interstate water treaties, particularly the Colorado River Compact, for which he received commendation from President Herbert Hoover.

Delph Carpenter

In October 1943, Governor Carr offered a tribute to Carpenter before the National Reclamation Association.  Carpenter could not attend the speech, as he had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and was confined to bed.  However his son Donald, who followed in his father’s footsteps with river compact negotiation, attended on his father’s behalf.  Carr’s speech, along with background information and a copy of the Colorado River Compact, was compiled by Colorado State University in 1991 and can be viewed here from our library.

Photos courtesy Colorado State Archives; Colorado State University

Colorado State Publications Blog

Inaugural Speeches of Colorado Governors

Governor Frederick W. Pitkin, 1879-1883. Courtesy Colorado State Archives.

Today is Inauguration Day in Colorado — the governor’s swearing-in.  In our library you can find the inaugural addresses of many of Colorado’s past governors, all the way back to Governor Frederick W. Pitkin in 1881.  In fact, we have Governor Pitkin’s inaugural address in German, along with those of several other early governors.  Colorado had a large German-speaking population in the late nineteenth century, so state documents were printed in three languages — German, English, and Spanish.

Through the years, Colorado governors’ inaugural messages changed with the times, as state and national events made their impact on our state.  Yet as the times changed, the optimistic, can-do attitude of the speeches did not change.  Pitkin’s successor (and predecessor), John L. Routt, discussed state lands, irrigation, mining, and the construction of the State Capitol in his January 1891 inaugural address.  Thirty-six years later, in 1927, Governor William H. Adams also addressed agriculture and mining, but focused heavily on a new issue unforeseen in Governor Routt’s day — state highways.

Governor John C. Vivian, 1943-1947. Courtesy Colorado State Archives.

Governor Ralph L. Carr noted in his 1939 inaugural speech, “Can we not unite in a common cause for the good of Colorado? Our goal should be the establishment of economy and efficiency in state government.”  While Carr served as the state’s chief executive at the outset of WWII, John C. Vivian presided at the time of its conclusion:  “Colorado is about to enter one of the most important epochs in its history.  We are preparing, in common with other sovereignities, to emerge from the state of war and plan for peace and peace time pursuits.  We have given to the war effort, all that has been asked of us.  We shall continue this policy until hostilities cease, even to the last dollar in our treasury and the last vestige of manpower,” he remarked in January 1945.

Governor James Peabody, 1903-1905. Courtesy Colorado State Archives.

Perhaps the most interesting of the inaugural speeches in our library’s collection is the joint message of Governors James Peabody and Alva Adams, two of Colorado’s three governors in a day in 1905.  In the 1904 elections, Adams, a Democrat, won the vote, but his opponent, incumbent Republican Peabody, sued the state claiming that the election was fraudulent.  Two months into Adams’ term, the Republican-controlled legislature favored Peabody and declared him the winner, on the condition that he resign within twenty-four hours.  In our library you can find a 1905 copy of Alva Adams’ concise remarks preceding his resignation, bound with Governor Peabody’s long, detailed inaugural speech covering many points of state government.  Following the speech he, too, resigned, and his lieutenant governor, Jesse F. McDonald, took the reins.  I was unable to verify the existence of an inaugural speech for McDonald; likely, he didn’t need one, as his predecessor so exhaustively covered so much.  However, our library does have a copy of McDonald’s “biennial message” (today known as the State of the State speech) from 1907, two years later.  Check our library’s web catalog for these and other historic Colorado documents.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Governor John Vanderhoof

The Denver Post is reporting that former Colorado Governor John Vanderhoof has died.  He was 91.  Governor Vanderhoof served from July 1973 through 1974.  He served as Lieutenant Governor under John Love and became governor after Love resigned to join the National Energy Policy Office.  Vanderhoof was born in Rocky Ford, Colorado, and was a WWII Veteran.  He also served twenty years in the State House of Representatives, from 1950 to 1970, where he served for several years as Speaker of the House.

For more information about Governor Vanderhoof, visit the Colorado State Archives website.  Vanderhoof is also featured in the Legislative Council publication Presidents and Speakers of the Colorado General Assembly:  A Biographical Portrait from 1876.  Finally, you can find in our library some of the Vanderhoof administration’s publications, including studies on land use planning, personnel administration, and education for prisoners.  Vanderhoof’s office also published a Guidebook to Denver for the Handicapped, which is also available from our library.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Lincoln's Colorado Connection

Abraham Lincoln never visited Colorado, just a fledgling territory in the early 1860s.  But he did leave his mark on the state through the appointment of his friend John Evans as Colorado’s second territorial governor.  Evans, who lived in Illinois (Evanston is named for him), vigorously campaigned for Lincoln in the 1860 presidential election, and as a result was rewarded with a political appointment as governor of the wild and woolly new territory.  Evans only served two years as territorial governor, but he and his descendants would leave an indelible mark on Colorado over the next century — and all as a result of Lincoln’s decision.

Born in Waynesville, Ohio, in 1814, John Evans, a physician specializing in gynecology, made his name teaching at Chicago’s famed Rush Medical College and as the inventor of a number of surgical instruments, as well as helping to found the Illinois Medical Society and Northwestern University.  Evans was also interested in politics, and as founder of the Illinois Republican Party became personal friends with Abraham Lincoln. 

The President appointed Evans territorial governor of Colorado in March 1862.  He had previously been offered the governorship of Washington Territory but declined.  While governor of Colorado, Evans strived to bring the intellectual culture he had left behind in Chicago to his new home.  He founded the Colorado Seminary, which became the University of Denver.  With William Byers, Evans also helped found the Denver Board of Trade.  In 1864, Evans appointed John Chivington as Colonel of the Colorado Volunteers, whose task was to deal with “hostile” Indians.  Col. Chivington attacked a group of peaceful Cheyenne and Arapho on the banks of Sand Creek on November 28, 1864, killing over two hundred, mostly women and children.  For his part in the massacre, Evans was forced to resign in disgrace.

The former governor continued with public life, however.  He is perhaps most responsible for keeping Denver from dying out when a railroad was planned through Cheyenne, leaving Denver in the dust.  Evans successfully advocated for a spur to come to Denver, linking Denver with the rest of the country and making sure it remained and thrived as viable city that attracted new settlers.

Evans’ children and grandchildren also played important roles in the development of Denver.  His son William Gray Evans served as president of the Denver Tramway Company and, although never holding political office himself, controlled Denver’s political machine for many years.  On the more positive side, William’s sister, Anne, devoted herself to arts and culture in Denver.  She served on the Denver Public Library Commission, donated her own art collection to help found the Denver Art Museum, and organized the Central City Opera Association, preserving the old Central City Opera House in the process.  Her nephew, William Gray’s son John II, became president of the powerful First National Bank of Denver.  And Governor Evans’ son-in-law, Samuel Elbert, husband of Evans’ daughter Josephine, also served as Colorado governor.  Colorado’s highest peak, Mt. Elbert, is named for him.

Of this influential family, however, it is still the gray-bearded Governor Evans who is best known.  Evans died in 1897 after a fall from a moving streetcar.  His home, at 14th and Arapahoe downtown, no longer stands, but you can visit the Byers-Evans House Museum, where William Gray Evans and his family lived.  In the home’s library you can see chandeliers and other furnishings from Governor Evans’ house.

The Colorado State Archives is home to Governor Evans’ official papers.  On their website you can read a biography of the Governor and view several documents from the collection, including the letter requesting his resignation as Governor of the territory, and a letter from F.W. Seward (Assistant U.S. Secretary of State and son of U.S. Secretary of State William Seward) regarding the governor’s appointment.  The State Archives also has railroad records and records on Sand Creek and the Colorado Volunteers.

Colorado State Publications Blog

State of the State Address

Governor John Hickenlooper delivers his State of the State Address today. The Address is delivered annually on the second day of the Legislative Session. In our library you can find copies of all of the State of the State Addresses from Governors Hickenlooper, Ritter, and Romer, and most years’ Addresses from Governor Lamm. (Governor Owens chose not to have his published).

In Colorado’s early years, the State of the State Speech was called “Message of His Excellency, Governor …” and later just “Governor’s Message.” We have these “Messages” and/or Inaugural Addresses from past Governors Routt (1876-79); Pitkin (1879-83); Grant (1883-85); Eaton (1885-87); A. Adams (1877-79); Cooper (1889-91); Routt (1891-93); Waite (1893-95); McIntire (1895-97); A. Adams (1897-99); Peabody (1905); McDonald (1905-07); Buchtel (1907-09); W. Adams (1927-33); E. Johnson (1933-37); Ammons (1937-39); Carr (1939-43); Vivian (1943-47); W. Johnson (1950-51); Thornton (1951-55); McNichols (1957-63); and Love (1963-73).

Colorado State Publications Blog

Honest John

In 1889 when it wasn’t always popular to run for public office, it is said that the Republican machine paid two dollars per vote. John F. Shafroth, watched as Wolfe Londoner won thanks to some extremely dirty politics. Londoner was subsequently removed from office near the end of his term following a trial that uncovered gross voting abuses. Seeing this made the then city attorney, decide to run for congress. Winning a seat in the 54th Congress, he then went on to split from the Republican party to join the Silver Republican Party, and on their ticket went on to serve 3 more congresses. “Honest John” as he would come to be known, stepped down when he declared that his opponent had actually been elected to the 58th Congress. And by then, he had joined the Democratic party. In 1908 he was elected Governor of Colorado and set about reforming Colorado’s campaign financing, coal mine safety and direct election of U.S. Senators. Read about his fight and eventual successes in Honest John Shafroth A Colorado Reformer available at the Colorado State Publications Library.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Governor Hickenlooper's Budget Proposal

Yesterday, Governor Hickenlooper submitted his budget proposal for FY 2011-12 to the Joint Committee on Budgeting. Based on revenue forecasts from the Legislative Council and Office of State Planning and Budgeting, the FY 2011-12 budget package reduces $425.0 million total funds and 263.4 FTE. The plan includes reductions to K-12 education, higher education, Medicaid, and human services. It also proposes closing a state prison (Ft. Lyon Correctional Facility), a drug treatment and a residential health care program, and re-purposing four State parks. Bonny Lake, Sweitzer Lake, Harvey Gap, and Paonia State Parks are being considered for closure/re-purposing. According to the budget plan re-purposing could mean “closing, transferring management or ownership, or placing into a “caretaker” status the referenced parks.” All of the details are available on the Office of State Planning and Budgeting website. Take a look at the “Budget Balancing Letter to the JBC” and the breakdown for individual departments to get an idea of the cuts that have been proposed.

The Joint Budget Committee will review and consider the budget balancing proposal, and present their recommendations to the General Assembly. A good description of the budget process can be found on the JBC website.

Colorado State Publications Blog

State of the State

Today at 11am, Governor Hickenlooper will deliver his first State of the State address to the members of the state legislature. Streaming audio and video can be accessed from the General Assembly website. If you’d like a historical view of the state from a governor’s perspective, we have copies of past speeches from Governors Ritter, Romer (GO39.14), and Lamm (GO38.2/ST2/).