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Edward Prentiss Costigan (July 1, 1874 – January 17, 1939) was a Democratic Party politician who represented Colorado in the United States Senate from 1931 until 1937. He was a founding member of the Progressive Party in Colorado in 1912.

Edward P. Costigan
Senator Edward Prentiss Costigan.jpg
United States Senator
from Colorado
In office
March 4, 1931 – January 3, 1937
Preceded by Lawrence Cowle Phipps
Succeeded by Edwin Carl Johnson
Personal details
Born (1874-07-01)July 1, 1874
King William County, Virginia
Died January 17, 1939(1939-01-17) (aged 64)
Denver, Colorado
Resting place Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado
Political party Democratic
Education Harvard University
Profession Law


Early life and educationEdit

Edward Prentiss Costigan was born in King William County, Virginia in 1874. He graduated from Harvard University in 1899.


The following year, he moved to Denver, Colorado, where he had gotten his first position as a lawyer.

Costigan was a founding member of the Progressive Party in Colorado in 1912, but lost the election for governor. President Woodrow Wilson appointed Costigan as a member of the United States Tariff Commission in 1917.

He was elected to the United States Senate as a Democrat in 1930. Oscar L. Chapman managed his campaign.

In 1934 he co-sponsored the Jones-Costigan amendment to the U.S. Sugar Act, protecting the U.S. sugar industry, including sugar from Colorado beets.

Costigan-Wagner BillEdit

Colorado Democratic Senator Edward P. Costigan and New York Democratic Senator Robert F. Wagner sponsored a federal anti-lynching law in 1934. In 1935 Senate leaders tried to persuade President Franklin D. Roosevelt to support the Costigan-Wagner Bill. Roosevelt was concerned about a provision of the bill that called for the punishment of sheriffs who failed to protect their prisoners from lynch mobs. He believed that he would lose the support of the white voters in the South by approving this, and lose the 1936 presidential election.

The Costigan-Wagner Bill received support from many members of Congress but the Southern bloc managed to defeat it in the Senate. The national debate that took place over the issue again brought renewed attention to the crime of lynching. By the mid-1930s, the rate of the crime had finally dropped, mostly below 20 annually.


  • Greenbaum, Fred. Fighting progressive: A biography of Edward P. Costigan (Public Affairs Press, 1971)
  • Greenbaum, Fred. "The Anti-Lynching Bill of 1935: The Irony of ‘Equal Justice—Under Law.’." Journal of Human Relations 15#3 (1967): 72-85.

External linksEdit