Beryl Franklin Carroll


Beryl Franklin Carroll, Iowa's twentieth governor, is the first native-born Iowan to become the executive head of the state. He first saw the light on his father's farm in Davis County on the 15th day of March, 1860. His parents had migrated from Ohio seven years before. He was the twelfth of a family of thirteen children. He attended a district school in Davis County and a small college in Bloomfield, the county seat. Thence to the State Normal School at Kirksville, Mo., where, at the age of twenty-four, he was graduated. Then followed five years' experience as a school-teacher in Missouri.

Two years after his graduation he was married to Miss Jennie Dodson, a lady of rare mental powers who in later years has devoted those powers to various worthy causes. Their union was blessed with two sons, Paul W. and Jean F. In 1889 the future governor went into business with a brother in Bloomfield. Two years thereafter he became publisher and editor of the Davis County Republican, one of the strong weekly newspapers of southeastern Iowa. His first essay in politics was as candidate for elector on the republican national ticket in 1892.

In 1896 he came to Des Moines as state senator for the Davis and Appanoose district. After serving in two legislatures and one term as postmaster at Bloomfield, in 1902 he was elected auditor of state. To this position he was twice re-elected. His career as auditor was in all respects successful. Under his administration of that responsible office, the supervision of banks and insurance companies, which under his predecessor had been, to say the least, uncertain, became a known quantity, giving the public the assurance which had before been lacking, that state supervision was in fact a safeguard, and at the same time affording the honest banker and insurance manager a guaranty against the damaging effects of loose and dishonest business management.

In 1908, the republican nomination for governor went to the primaries for the first time. There were three candidates for first place on the ticket. Auditor Carroll, Governor Garst and John J. Hamilton. Carroll was nominated by over twenty-five thousand plurality, and was elected over Fred E. White, by a majority of over sixty thousand, receiving the largest vote ever cast for any candidate for governor. Two years later, there was another sharp contest for the republican nomination, and for a time it looked as though the governor had been beaten by ex-Governor Garst; but his strong campaign, public confidence in his uprightness and the strength of the two-term precedent gave him a majority of 4,028 in the primary, and a majority of 18,337 over Claude E. Porter, democrat, at the election. The administration of Governor Carroll went down into history as clean, business-like and moderately progressive.

Soon after retiring from the executive chair, Governor Carroll and his son Paul entered upon the arduous task of organizing an "old line" life insurance company with headquarters in Des Homes. The ex-governor's six years' first-hand study of life-insurance companies and methods as auditor of state eminently qualified him for the undertaking. The new company, the "Provident Life," is officered with the ex-governor as president and manager, and with Paul W. Carroll, manager of the agency department.

In his inaugural of 1909, Governor Carroll recommended rotating names upon the ballot, for the reason that the party whose name appeared first had an advantage in the election. In his message of 1911, and also 1913, he recommended the enactment of a law providing for a direct inheritance tax. He recommended the adoption of the resolution to amend the Constitution of the United States so as to permit the enactment of an income-tax law. He recommended a law requiring the arbitrating of disputes between employers and employees; likewise the establishment of the office of state sheriff or state detective, which recommendation was adopted in substance, authorizing the governor or attorney-general to employ an individual in that capacity. He recommended additional normal schools for the state; a workman's compensation law, and a state workhouse or custodial farm.

In both his message of 1911 and that of 1913, he urged an absolute indeterminate sentence law without either a maximum or minimum provision, leaving the board of parole to determine the length of time of service of parties convicted of crimes. In one or more of his messages, he recommended the establishment of an epileptic colony. He recommended an amendment to the constitution whereby the legislature might enact a law requiring corporations to pay taxes directly to the state; also the abolition of the contract labor system in prisons; the use of prisoners in road and farm work, and the separation of the woman's reformatory from the Anamosa prison. He also recommended one term of four years for the governor, rendering that official ineligible to succeed himself without an intervention of time.

Governor Carroll's last biennial message was an exhaustive document. Many important subjects for the consideration of the incoming legislature had been considered by special commissions since the adjournment of the last legislature, and the outgoing governor saw no reason why an unusual volume of valuable legislation should not be passed before the close of the session. He spoke in no uncertain tone of the proposed enlargement of the capitol grounds, declaring that a comprehensive scheme to that end should be adopted and plans be made for acquiring the necessary land. "The grounds thus acquired," he added, "should be parked and beautified, and upon them should be placed the Allison monument and such other monuments as may be erected in the future, and when the state shall build an executive mansion, it should be placed upon the high point of ground to the southeast of the Capitol building upon the block immediately east of the State House; and south of Capitol avenue should be located a judicial building." He anticipated the plan later adopted of removing the state power plant to the foot of the hill near the railroads. Instead of the proposed office building, Governor Carroll recommended a judicial building removing the supreme court and all its correlated departments out of the state house and bringing all administration officers and commissions together in the Capitol.

The governor again called legislative attention to the need of better control of public utilities; urged caution in taking steps to override the judgment of the State Board of Education, having due regard not only to the immediate effect of the changes proposed, but also the ultimate welfare of the state and of her institutions. His most elaborate recommendations were in support of the board of education appointed by him nearly two years before. The bill prepared by the board was analyzed and its main provisions supported. He urged due attention to the proposed revision of the tax laws, and made specific suggestions to that end. Highway improvement was strongly urged, and specific improvements were recommended. The proposed abandonment of the parole system was opposed. Convict labor reform was vigorously urged. The "short ballot" was regarded by the governor as unnecessary, but attention was called to the need of a revision of our primary law relieving its operation of '' freakishness.'' The governor recommended such action as should be found necessary to put the question of woman suffrage to the voters. The message closed with an expression of confidence in the success of the session and with best wishes for the governor's successor in office.

Following are some of the more important laws enacted during Governor Carroll's two terms of office: The first law signed by him made Lincoln's birthday a legal holiday in the state, and the last was a complete revision of the laws relating to mines and mining. The office of commerce counsel was established; also the office of state fire marshal. The removal statutes, and the "red light" law, known as the "Cosson law," were enacted. The Cosson law gives the attorney-general power, on his own initiative, and compels him, on the order of the governor, to enforce the provisions of the removal law in localities in which local officials refuse or fail to act, and adds intoxication per se to the already enumerated causes for removal. Also the Moon law, limiting the number of saloons; the hotel inspection law; the pensioning of firemen and policemen: the law with regard to taxing moneys and credits; the registration of automobiles; the road-drag law; the hunter's license; a better method of issuing teachers' certificates; the consolidation of school districts; the uniform bill of lading; the law by which criminals can be arraigned upon proceedings of the county attorney without indictment. The Oregon plan of electing United States senators was passed by the legislature and vetoed by the governor.

The Thirty-third General Assembly convened January 11, and adjourned April 9, 1909. Guy A. Feely, of Black Hawk, was chosen speaker of the House, and Nelson J. Lee, of Emmet, speaker pro tem. Lieut. Gov. George W. Clarke was in the chair of the Senate, with James A. Smith, of Mitchell, president pro tem.

Among the new senators who were destined to take prominent places in future legislature were John T. Clarkson, of Monroe; George Cosson, of Audubon; Leslie E. Francis, of Dickinson; John Hammill, of Hancock; Frederic Larrabee, of Webster; James U. Sammis, of Plymouth; Arthur C. Savage, of Adair, Hoyt, of Buchanan, and C. H. Van Law, of Marshall. Among the new members of the House who grew in prominence with their every return to the legislature some in the House and others in the Senate were: Lars W. Boe, of Winnebago; George W. Crozier, of Marion; John H. Darrah, of Lucas; Gerrit Klay, of Sioux, and Eli C. Perkins, of Delaware.

The principal standing committees in the Senate were presided over as follows: Ways and Means, Smith, of Mitchell; Judiciary, Dowell, of Polk; Appropriations, Maytag, of Jasper; Railroads, Saunders, of Pottawattamie; Cities and Towns, Gilliland, of Mills; Schools, Allen, of Pocahontas; Banks, Stuckslager, of Linn; Insurance, Whipple, of Benton; Corporations, Sammis, of Plymouth; Suppression of Intemperance, Cosson, of Audubon. Following were .chairmen of the leading committees in the House: Ways and Means, White, of Story; Judiciary, Sullivan, of Polk; Appropriations, Moore, of Linn; Municipal Corporations, Harding, of Woodbury; Constitutional Amendments, Lee, of Emmet; Railroads, Welden, of Hardin; Schools, Stillman, of Greene; Banks, Grier, of Poweshiek; Insurance, Kellogg, of Harrison; Suppression of Intemperance, Elliott, of Page.

The Thirty-fourth General Assembly was organized with Lieutenant-Governor Clarke presiding in the Senate, and Paul E. Stillman, speaker of the House. In the Senate, Gillilland, of Mills, entering upon his third senatorial term, headed Judiciary; Mattes, of Sac, a veteran leader in both houses, headed Appropriations; Allen, of Pocahontas, was chairman of Agriculture; Adams, of Fayette, Schools; Stuckslager, of Linn, Cities and Towns; Hunter, of Woodbury, Banks; Larrabee, of Webster, Labor; and Allen, of Jefferson, Suppression of Intemperance. A number of senators retained their former positions on committees. In the House, Goodykoontz, of Boone, headed Ways and Means; Moore, of Linn, afterward Lieutenant-governor, was chairman of Appropriations; Klay, of Sioux, Judiciary; Harding, of Woodbury, Municipal Corporations; Larrabee, of Fayette, Railroads; Johnson, of Mitchell, Banks; Fulton, of Jefferson, Schools; Shankland, of Polk, Insurance; Felt, of Clay, Conservation of Resources; Perkins, of Delaware, Labor; George, of Story, Suppression of Intemperance.

Among the members of the Senate who loomed large in the legislation of the session was John T. Clarkson, of Monroe, a member of the minority party, but a leader in debate on employer's liability bill and on temperance reform measures. In the House, another democrat, Frank A. O'Connor, of Chickasaw, member of several important committees, was soon accorded leadership in debate. Another floor leader, though accorded only a minor chairmanship, was John W. Jacobs, of Calhoun, Charles W. Miller, of Bremer, though twice returned thereafter, and a member at the time of his death, was during this session at the .height of his influence as a leader of the opposition. He had been a member of two previous legislatures. Others in both houses of this body were marking time until the call should come for more active service.

Among the amendatory legislation of the period, was a thorough modification of the insurance laws of the state; also a revision of the powers and duties of supervisors and township trustees. New and important legislation bore upon the assessment and collection of taxes on collateral estates, etc. The highways received no little attention; also motor vehicle registration; mines and mining inspection; food and dairy restrictions and safeguards and uniformity in bills of lading. An important appropriation act was one creating an employer's liability commission, the commission to report by the 15th of September, 1912, recommending a bill, or bills, for the consideration of the next general assembly. At the head of the commission was Senator John T. Clarkson, of Monroe, whose report to the next general assembly formed the basis of important and far-reaching legislation in the interest of the employee and the employer as well.

Iowa, Its History & Its Citizens, Volume 2, 1918,
Submitted by Cathy Danielson

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