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JIM/History: If at first you don't succeed . . .

In which the noted historian analyzes the election of 1919, when Democrat James Black was defeated for Kentucky governor and the distant reaches the Democratic Adair County News takes to find a scapegoat, and in which Jim finds another facet of a great, progressive Republican Governor, Edwin P. Morrow: his enthusiasm for women's rights
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A bit of sour grapes post-election advice appeared in the Adair County News 95 years ago today - November 5, 1919:

"The election is over. There are lots of people who are not satisfied with the result. Satisfied or not, business must go on, and every body should try to make it as lively as possible."

To quote Judge James H. Mulligan (yet again), "...and Politics - the damnedest In Kentucky." Never was this wry observation truer than in the Kentucky gubernatorial election of 1919, an election that in a way, started seven years earlier.

In 1912, during the era when US Senators still were elected by the Kentucky legislature, Democrat Ollie James won the seat over Republican Edwin P. Morrow, who was the nephew of former Kentucky governor William O. Bradley.

A.O. Stanley defeated Ed Morrow in 1915

Three years later, Morrow ran for governor against his friend Democrat Augustus Stanley and lost by 400 votes, a margin considerably short of a landslide for Stanley. Democrat James Black won the lieutenant governor's race.

Fast forward another three and a half years to the spring of 1919. Ollie James died in office; Governor Stanley was appointed to fulfill James' unexpired US Senate term; and Lt. Gov. Black ascended to the top spot a scant six months in advance of the general election.

In 1919 Morrow defeated James Black for he governorship

In the gubernatorial election that year, Morrow once again was the Republican nominee, this time emerging the victor, trimming Black's political sails by 40,000 votes, an astounding majority for the only Republican to win the governorship between 1907 and 1927.

The News found root of defeat in tax laws, prohibition, and foreigners

The News, a Democratic newspaper from hairline to heels, disingenuously stating, "most people give their opinion that the tax law and prohibition were the principal causes" and went on to lay more blame at the feet of the "foreign element, especially the Germans," citing bitter opposition to prohibition as the cause. However, a later, and perhaps less partisan source, the distinguished Kentucky historian Lowell Hayes Harrison, laid the blame for the drubbing more squarely -- and with considerable accuracy -- on Black's refusal to deal with the State Board of Control over a contract scandal which broke shortly before the election.

Gov. Morrow championed voting rights for women, and in early January 1920, less than month into his term, he signed a bill ratifying the 19th amendment, making Kentucky the 23rd state to do so. (The amendment was ratified nationally in the summer of 1920, in time for women to vote in the 1920 presidential election.) Gov. Morrow also advocated civil rights for Afro-Americans.

This story was posted on 2014-11-05 13:06:43
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