William Larrabee

William Larrabee, twelfth Governor of Iowa, was born in Ledyard, Connecticut, January 20, 1832. His father Adam Larrabee was a graduate of West Point Military Academy and an officer in the War of 1812. The boyhood years of the son were passed on his father's farm. His education was acquired in the common schools and at the age of nineteen he became a teacher.

In 1853 he started west, stopping first in Clayton County, Iowa, where he resumed teaching. For three years he was employed as foreman on a large farm belonging to Judge Williams.

In 1857 he purchased an interest in the Clermont mills, Fayette County, and eventually became the sole owner of the property. Later he became engaged extensively in farming and banking.

In 1867 he was nominated by the Republicans of Fayette County for State Senator and elected. He remained in the Senate for eighteen years by successive reflections, serving the longest continuously of any member of the Iowa Legislature since the admission of the State. He was an able practical legislator and acquired by long service an intimate knowledge of public affairs, giving him great influence in shaping the laws and general State policy. During most of this period he was chairman of the committee of ways and means.

In 1881 he was a candidate before the Republican State Convention for Governor but was not successful. In 1885 he received the nomination and was elected. His administration was noted for the firm stand he took in securing legislation to regulate the rates of railroad transportation and his rigid adherence to the principle of prohibition of the liquor traffic. At the close of his second term there was a formidable movement on part of the people to elect Governor Larrabee to the United States Senate.

In 1893 he published a book on the "Railroad Question," which was an able historical and practical treatise on railroads and remedies for their abuses. It is an exceedingly valuable work on a subject that has long engaged the attention of Congress and State Legislatures. Upon the creation of the State Board of Control for the management of the business of the various State institutions, Governor Larrabee was appointed one of its members and was chosen president of the board. His son, William Larrabee, Jr., was a member of the House of the Twenty-ninth General Assembly.

(History of Iowa from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, 1903)
Submitted By: Cathy Danielson

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William Larrabee was born in Ledyard, Connecticut, January 20, 1832. He received a common school education in Connecticut and spent two months in a private academy; came to Iowa in 1853; taught school in Hardin, Allamakee county, for a time and worked on a farm for three years.

In 1856 he engaged in the milling business in Clermont and continued until 1873, when he sold his milling business and spent three months in Europe. On his return he engaged in banking and farming and continued in the enlargement of his interests in Iowa banks and Iowa farms throughout his life. He was one of the arbiters which appraised the property of the Green Bay and Mississippi Canal company preparatory to its transfer to the United States government.

In 1867 Mr. Larrabee was elected to the State Senate and was four times thereafter nominated by acclamation. In 1885 he was elected governor and his administration was marked by the influence he exerted on legislation, especially along the lines of railroad regulation and the suppression of intemperance Larrabee’s "Railroad Question" is considered an authority. When the legislature passed the Board of Control law, Governor Larrabee was selected for chairman of the board. He was chairman of the executive committee of the Iowa commission of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis.

He died at Clermont, Fayette county, Iowa, November 16, 1912.

Annals of Iowa, 1915
Submitted by Cathy Danielson


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