John St. John (American politician)

John Pierce St. John (February 25, 1833 - August 31, 1916) was an American politician who served as the eighth Governor of Kansas and later served as the Prohibition presidential nominee in 1884. Under his tenure as governor Kansas became the third state to enact a statewide prohibition of alcohol which would last until 1948 and remain in some form until 1987.[1] After leaving elected office he maintained his position in the Prohibition party and remained active in the party's presidential politics and was a major figure in the party schism during the 1896 presidential election.

John St. John
8th Governor of Kansas
In office
January 13, 1879 – January 8, 1883
LieutenantLyman U. Humphrey
David Wesley Finney
Preceded byGeorge T. Anthony
Succeeded byGeorge Glick
Member of the Kansas Senate from the 9th District
In office
Personal details
John Pierce St. John

(1833-02-25)February 25, 1833
Brookville, Indiana, U.S.
DiedAugust 31, 1916(1916-08-31) (aged 83)
Olathe, Kansas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Other political
Prohibition (1884)
Spouse(s)Mary Jane Brewer
Susan Parker
  • Samuel St. John (father)
  • Sophia Snell (mother)
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Branch/serviceUnion Army
Years of service1853-1854
RankLieutenant colonel
Unit143rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Battles/warsAmerican Indian Wars
American Civil War
John St. John

Early life edit

On February 25, 1833, John Pierce St. John was born in Brookville, Indiana, to Samuel St. John and Sophia Snell. In 1852, he became the conductor of an ox team which he led to California. During his time in California he fought against the Modoc Native Americans in California and Oregon.[2] John was a congregationalist until the 1870s when he converted and became a Christian Scientist. From 1852 to 1859, he was married to Mary Jane Brewer and had one son until their divorce. On March 28, 1860, he married Susan J. Parker and later had two children with her.[3]

Career edit

During the American Civil War he served as lieutenant colonel of the 143rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Union Army from 1861 to 1864. At the end of the war he lived in Independence, Missouri until 1869 when he moved to Olathe, Kansas. From 1873 to 1874 he served in the Kansas Senate and was the Republican Governor of Kansas from 1879 to 1883.[4]

He was the first governor of Kansas to have a formal inauguration ceremony. He was active in the temperance movement and successfully promoted a prohibition amendment to the state's constitution in 1881. St. John also helped create the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association during the Great Exodus of African-Americans to Kansas in 1879. In 1879, the religious colony of Zion Valley was renamed to St. John in his honor to gain favor in winning the county seat of Stafford County. In 1882, he ran for reelection to a third term, but was defeated by George Washington Glick with 83,232 votes to 75,158 votes.

Presidential edit

He was the Prohibition Party candidate for President of the United States in the 1884 election. On October 2, 1884, he was nearly shot, with the bullet hitting the window next to him.[5] He received 147,482 votes for 1.5% of the popular vote on a ticket with William Daniel which was an increase of 137,118 votes from Neal Dow's results in 1880 due to support from Frances Willard and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. He was blamed for James G. Blaine's defeat and on November 27, 1884, an effigy of him was burned in Topeka, Kansas in front of a crowd of three thousand people.[6]

He was made chairman of the 1888 Prohibition national convention and oversaw the writing of the party's platform.[7] He declined to seek the Prohibition Party's presidential nomination for the 1892 presidential election and instead nominated John Bidwell who went on to win the nomination and was named as the temporary chairman of the convention.[8][9][10] At the 1896 Prohibition convention he supported the broad gauger faction that wanted to add women's suffrage and free silver to the party's platform, but after the narrow gauger faction successfully defeated those attempts John, Charles Eugene Bentley, and Helen M. Gougar led a walkout of the broad gaugers and created the breakaway National Party and nominated a rival ticket with Bentley as president and James H. Southgate as vice president.[11] Following the 1896 election he became disillusioned with party and joined the People's Party although he would later return to the Prohibition party.[12]

Later life edit

On December 3, 1887, he, with a group of followers, bought 10,000 acres of land in Newhall, California, to create a dry community.[13] In 1912, he toured Kansas in support of women's suffrage. On June 20, 1916, he suffered from heat exhaustion, but was able to recover enough to attend the 1916 Prohibition national convention in July.[14] St. John died after suffering heat exhaustion on August 31, 1916, in Olathe, Kansas. His funeral was attended by Governor Arthur Capper, former Governor George H. Hodges, and Herman P. Faris who served as the Prohibition Party's representative.[15]

Electoral history edit

John St. John electoral history
1873 Kansas Ninth Senate District election[16]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John St. John 1,772 58.73%
Democratic L. F. Green 1,245 41.27%
Total votes '3,017' '100.00%'
1878 Kansas gubernatorial election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John St. John 74,020 53.52% -3.26%
Democratic John R. Goodin 37,208 26.91% -11.01%
Greenback David P. Mitchell 27,057 19.57% +19.57%
N/A Other 11 0.01% -0.34%
Total votes '138,296' '100.00%'
1880 Kansas gubernatorial election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John St. John 115,144 57.90% +4.38%
Democratic Edmund G. Ross 63,557 31.96% +5.05%
Greenback H. P. Vrooman 19,481 9.80% -9.77%
Prohibition J. P. Culver 435 0.22% +0.22%
Independent F. M. Stringfield 210 0.11% +0.11%
N/A Other 57 0.03% +0.02%
Total votes '198,884' '100.00%'
1882 Kansas gubernatorial election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic George Washington Glick 83,232 46.40% +14.44%
Republican John St. John 75,158 41.90% -16.00%
Greenback Charles L. Robinson 20,933 11.67% +1.87%
N/A Other 56 0.03%
Total votes '179,379' '100.00%'

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Prohibition In Kansas". The Leavenworth Times. August 21, 1881. p. 3. Archived from the original on December 19, 2019 – via
  2. ^ "The Death of St. John". The Olathe Register. September 7, 1916. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 16, 2019 – via
  3. ^ "John P. St. John Kansas Historical Society". August 2019.
  4. ^ "Kansas Legislators Past & Present - Saa through Scott, State Library of Kansas". Archived from the original on November 25, 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
  5. ^ "Editorial Notes". Rome, NY Roman Citizen. October 3, 1884. 1 (col 1).
  6. ^ "John P. St. John Is Gone". The Garnett Review. September 7, 1916. p. 2. Archived from the original on December 16, 2019 – via
  7. ^ "John P. St. John Chosen as Permanent Chairman of the Convention". Weekly Atchison Champion. May 31, 1888. p. 2. Archived from the original on December 18, 2019 – via
  8. ^ "Gen. Bidwell Gets It". The De Kalb Chronicle. July 9, 1892. p. 6. Archived from the original on December 19, 2019 – via
  9. ^ "Two More Parties". The Wichita Daily Eagle. June 29, 1892. p. 7. Archived from the original on December 18, 2019 – via
  10. ^ "Temporary Chairman of the National Prohibition Convention". Independent-Journal. June 30, 1892. p. 4. Archived from the original on December 18, 2019 – via
  11. ^ "St. John Bolts". The Topeka State Journal. May 29, 1896. p. 1. Archived from the original on December 18, 2019 – via
  12. ^ "Gov. John Pierce St. John".
  13. ^ "John Pierce St. John Papers, 1859-1917".
  14. ^ "John P. St. John is Dead". The Citizen. September 6, 1916. p. 4. Archived from the original on December 16, 2019 – via
  15. ^ "Eulogized Ex-Gov. St. John". The Soldier Clipper. September 13, 1916. p. 7. Archived from the original on December 16, 2019 – via
  16. ^ "Election Results". The Daily Commonwealth. January 4, 1873. p. 3. Archived from the original on December 19, 2019 – via

External links edit

Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of Kansas
1878, 1880, 1882
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prohibition nominee for President of the United States
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Kansas
Succeeded by