Governors
of
Wisconsin


page 3



Governors


Ludington, Harrison 1812 - 1891
  Definition: merchant, lumberman, governor, b. Ludingtonville, N.Y. He received a district school education. In 1838 he moved to Milwaukee with his uncle, Lewis Ludington. There, in partnership with Lewis Ludington and Harvey Birchard, and later with his younger brother, Nelson Ludington (q.v.), he conducted a general merchandising business (1839-1851) in Solomon Juneau's (q.v.) warehouse, which came to be known as the "Old Corner Store." Withdrawing from that enterprise in 1851, he turned his attention to the lumber industry, forming a partnership with Daniel Wells, Jr. (q.v.), of Milwaukee and Anthony G. Van Schaick of Chicago. During the next 40 years this firm became one of the leading producers of lumber in the Northwest, with large mills at Menominee, Mich., and elsewhere, and with extensive tracts of timber lands in Michigan, Louisiana, and Texas. A Republican, he was Milwaukee alderman, (1861, 1862) and mayor of Milwaukee from Apr., 1871, to Apr., 1872, and again from Apr., 1873, to Jan., 1876, when he resigned to become governor of Wisconsin, having defeated William R. Taylor, Democrat, in Nov., 1875. He held office from Jan. 3, 1876, to Jan. 7, 1878. Well disposed toward the railroads, his administration saw the repeal of the Potter law, notwithstanding its approval by the United States Supreme Court and the supreme court of Wisconsin, and the replacement of the railroad commission of three members by a commissioner, who had no power to determine rates. Declining renomination, he retired from public life at the end of his single term and devoted himself to his business affairs. Natl. Cyclopaedia Amer. Biog., 12 (1904); U.S. Biog. Dict.... Wis. (Chicago, 1877); J. A. Watrous, Memoirs of Milwaukee Co. (2 vols., Madison, 1909); Proc. State Hist. Soc. Wis., 1 892 (1893); Wis. Legis. Manual (1876); Milwaukee Evening Wis., June 18, 1891; Milwaukee Sentinel, June 18, 1891; WPA MS.
[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]


Smith, William E. 1824 - 1883
  Definition: businessman, politician, governor, b. near Inverness, Scotland. He migrated with his parents to the U.S. in 1835, eventually settling in Commerce, Mich. In 1849 he moved to Wisconsin, settling at Fox Lake where he operated a store. Originally a Whig, Smith was state assemblyman (1851), and in 1854 helped to organize the Republican party. He was state senator (1858-1859, 1864-1865), state treasurer (1866-1870), and was again state assemblyman (1871). In 1872 Smith moved to Milwaukee, where, with J. A. Roundy and Sidney Hauxhurst, he founded the wholesale grocery firm of Smith, Roundy and Co. In 1877 he was elected governor, although receiving less than the combined vote of the Democratic candidate, J. A. Mallory, and Greenback candidate, Edward P. Allis (q.v.). Smith was re-elected in 1879, and devoted his two terms (Jan. 1878-Jan. 1882) to promoting the business interests of the state; in 1881 he utilized the state militia to suppress a labor disturbance in Eau Claire. He was for many years a regent of the state normal schools, and was also a trustee of Milwaukee Female College, Wisconsin Female Academy at Fox Lake, and the Univ. of Chicago. He was a director of the First National Bank of Milwaukee, and a member of the executive committee of the Northwestern Life Insurance Co. Wis. Blue Book (1927); Portrait and Biog. Record of Sheboygan Co. (Chicago, 1894); Madison Wis. State Journal, Feb. 14, 1883; WPA MS. [Source: Blue book]


Rusk, Jeremiah McClain 1830 - 1893
 Definition: farmer, soldier, politician, governor, Congressman, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, b. Morgan County, Ohio. He moved to Wisconsin in 1853, settling in Viroqua where he opened a tavern, engaged in farming, and later operated a stage line and became part owner of a bank. He engaged in local politics in Viroqua, was state assemblyman (1862), but resigned shortly after taking his seat in the legislature to accept a commission in the Union army. During the Civil War, Rusk sewed as major, 25th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry (1862-1863), and as lieutenant colonel (1863-1865); he commanded the regiment from July, 1864, to Jan., 1865, and again from Feb., 1865, to Apr., 1865. Rusk was mustered out of the service in June, 1865, with the brevet rank of brigadier general, U.S. Volunteers. After leaving the army, Rusk returned to Viroqua and became increasingly important in Republican politics. He was elected to Congress in 1870, was twice re-elected, and served from Mar., 1871, to Mar., 1877. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1876, but in 1881 was elected governor of Wisconsin, serving in this capacity from Jan., 1882 to Jan., 1989, his last term of office being extended for an additional year because of the state constitutional amendment (1882) changing the date on which state officials took office from the even- to the odd-numbered years. Known to his friends and political associates as "Uncle Jerry," Rusk was for many years an important figure in Wisconsin politics. A genial, frontier type, "diamond in the rough," popular with veterans, and a physical giant, Rusk was recognized by his associates as a safe party man and a skilled campaigner. During his administration his genial "frontier image" aided him through several difficult crises, notably two labor disputes: In 1882 when a railroad bankruptcy left over 1,500 railroad workers stranded and desperate in Northern Wisconsin, Rusk disregarded the appeals of some frightened citizens for troops, sent food to the workers, and quieted them. On a much more serious occasion in Milwaukee during the major city-wide strikes of 1886, Rusk complied with the frantic appeals of city officials and manufacturers, called out the militia, and ordered them to fire on the strikers. He later defended this action with the remark, "I seen my duty and I done it." Apparently this defense of "private property" cost him little support outside the labor groups in industrial Milwaukee. After leaving the governorship in 1889, Rusk was appointed Secretary of State by President Benjamin Harrison, serving in this capacity from Mar., 1889, to Mar., 1893. In this capacity Rusk is credited with instituting a rigid inspection of U.S. livestock and meat intended for export, thereby persuading several nations to remove their restrictions on American products. He also popularized the agriculture department and made its reports widely available to interested farmers. After leaving the cabinet, he returned to Viroqua, where he died a few months later. Dict. Amer. Biog.; Biog. Dir. Amer. Cong. (1928); Wis. Mag. Hist., 11; Milwaukee Sentinel, Nov. 22, 1893; WPA MS; J.M. Rusk Papers.
[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]

Above: Wisconsin Governor Jeremiah M. Rusk and his staff at the funeral of General Ulysses S. Grant in New York City. Present with Rusk, 5th from the left, and in dress uniforms were: Col. Chas. King, Acting Chief of Staff; Brig. Gen. Henry Palmer, Surgeon General; Brig. Gen. E. M. Rogers, Quarter Master General; Col. W. C. Bailey, Judge Advocate General; Col. W. S. Stanley; Col. C. E. Morley; Col. N. R. Nelson; Col. E. E. Clough; Col. John Hicks; and Lt. Col. F. A. Copeland, Asst. Inspector General.


Hoard, William Dempster 1836 - 1918
  Definition: newspaperman, dairyman, politician, governor, b. Stockbridge, N.Y. He was educated in the rural schools, and qualified as a lay Methodist minister, although he did not serve in the pulpit. In 1857 he moved to Wisconsin, and worked on farms in Dodge County until 1861. During the Civil War he served as a musician with the 4th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry (1861-1862); he was discharged because of medical disabilities, recuperated in Munnsville, N.Y., and later served briefly in the 1st New York artillery. Returning to Wisconsin in 1865, he entered the nursery business in Columbus, but was soon left penniless when Wisconsin's speculative hop-growing industry was ruined by a glutted market and a disastrous drop in prices. In 1870 he began publication of the Jefferson County Union at Lake Mills, and in 1873 transferred the newspaper to Fort Atkinson. He was editor (1870-1884) and co-editor (1884-1918) of this paper. After 1911 the paper was officially published by W. D. Hoard and Sons Co. A pioneer in the promotion of scientific dairy farming and the "special purpose dairy cow," Hoard was instrumental in organizing county dairymen's associations, and in 1872 helped establish the Wisconsin Dairyman's Association. He also played a major role in establishing farmer's institutes (1884) and the state's first dairy board. Hoard advocated tuberculin tests for dairy cows and was one of the first men in Wisconsin to recognize the value of alfalfa and the silo for use in cattle feeding. He was instrumental in persuading the railroads to provide special low-rate refrigeration service to New York, and thus aided in greatly expanding the Wisconsin dairy market. In 1885 he established Hoard's Dairyman, and by 1918 it had gained world renown as one of the foremost agricultural journals. A Republican, Hoard was elected governor in 1888, and served one term (1889-1891). During his administration, Hoard established the state dairy and food commission, but his hope of further agricultural reform was cut short when his defense of the state Bennett Law, combined with nationwide agrarian discontent and the currency issue, led to his defeat in the Democratic landslide of 1890. After leaving the governor's office, Hoard continued his fight for regulation of the quality of dairy and agricultural products, and vigorously opposed attempts to legalize dairy substitutes. He was for a time a strong supporter of Robert M. La Follette, Sr. (q.v.), but broke with him after La Follette was elected to the U.S. Senate. Hoard aided in founding the state's system of county normal schools and county agricultural schools, and was a member (1907-1911) and president (1908-1911) of the board of regents of the Univ. of Wisconsin. View more information. Dict. Amer. Biog.; Wis. Blue Book (1889); Who's Who in Amer., 10 (1918); W. D. Hoard Papers.
[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]


Peck, George Wilbur 1840 - 1916
  Definition: newspaperman, humorist, author, politician, governor, b. Henderson, N.Y. He moved with his parents to Wisconsin in 1843, settling in Cold Spring, Jefferson County, and later in Whitewater. In Whitewater, Peck learned the printer's trade on the Whitewater Register, and from 1855 to 1860 worked for various Wisconsin newspapers. In 1860 he purchased a half interest in the Jefferson County Republican, and remained with this newspaper until 1863. During the Civil War, he served with the 4th Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry (1863-1866), rising to the rank of 2nd lieutenant. In 1866 he established the Ripon Representative, but soon sold the paper, and in 1868 moved to New York City. There he became for a time one of the editors of Marcus M. Pomeroy's (q.v.) Democrat. Returning to Wisconsin in 1871 Peck was co-editor (1871-1874) of Pomeroy's former newspaper, the La Crosse Democrat (restyled La Crosse Liberal Democrat, 1872-1874). In 1874 Peck established his own paper at La Crosse, Peck's Sun, and in 1878 moved it to Milwaukee. There the paper soon became known for its humorous sketches, particularly those written by Peck in the "Peck's Bad Boy" series, and in 1882 his best-known book, Peck's Bad Boy and His Pa, appeared. He was editor of the paper until 1890. With the exception of a term as chief clerk of the Democratic assembly (1874-1875), Peck participated very little in politics until elected mayor of Milwaukee in 1890 on the Democratic ticket. In 1890 he was also nominated for governor by the Democrats, and the campaign, fought out on the issue of the Bennett Law, resulted in Peck's election. Re-elected in 1892, he served as governor from Jan., 1891, to Jan., 1895. Defeated by Republican William H. Upham (q.v.) in the gubernatorial race of 1894, Peck continued to live in Milwaukee until his death. He was again an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 1904. Dict. Amer. Biog.; E. B. Usher, Wis. (8 vols., Chicago, 1914); Milwaukee Evening Wis., Apr. 17, 1916.
[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]

A Biographical Record of Boone County, Iowa, 1902, Page 187, Transcribed by Peggy Thompson
PECK, GEORGE W.
  George W. Peck, ex-governor of the state of Wisconsin and a famous journalist and humorist, was born in Jefferson county, New York, September 28, 1840. When he was about three years of age his parents removed to Wisconsin, settling near Whitewater, where young Peck received his education at the public schools. At fifteen he entered the office of the "Whitewater Register," where he learned the printer's art. He helped start the "Jefferson County Republican" later on, but sold out his interest therein and set type in the office of the "State Journal," at Madison. At the outbreak of the war he enlisted in the Fourth Wisconsin Cavalry as a private, and after serving four years returned a second lieutenant. He then started the "Ripon Representative," which he sold not long after, and removing to New York, was on the staff of Mark Pomeroy's "Democrat." Going to La Crosse, later, he conducted the La Crosse branch paper, a half interest in which he bought in 1874. He next started "Peck's Sun," which four years later he removed to Milwaukee. While in La Crosse he was chief of police one year, and also chief clerk of the Democratic assembly in 1874. It was in 1878 that Mr. Peck took his paper to Milwaukee, and achieved his first permanent success, the circulation increasing to 80,000. For ten years he was regarded as one of the most original, versatile and entertaining writers in the country, and he has delineated every phase of country newspaper life, army life, domestic experience, travel and city adventure. Up to 1890 Mr. Peck took but little part in politics, but in that year was elected mayor of Milwaukee on the Democratic ticket. The following August he was elected governor of Wisconsin by a large majority, the "Bennett School Bill" figuring to a large extent in his favor.
  Mr. Peck, besides many newspaper articles in his peculiar vein and numerous lectures, bubbling over with fun, is known to fame by the following books: "Peck's Bad Boy and his Pa," and "The Grocery Man and Peck's Bad Boy."


Upham, William Henry 1841 - 1924
  Definition: businessman, soldier, politician, governor, b. Westminster, Mass. He moved with his parents to Niles, Mich., in 1852, and in 1853 to Wisconsin, settling in Racine. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, was wounded at the first battle of Bull Run, held a Confederate prisoner, and, on being exchanged was granted a cadetship at the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated from West Point in 1866, and, after being promoted to 1st lieutenant, resigned his commission in 1869 and returned to Wisconsin. From 1869 to 1879 he engaged in lumbering activities in northeastern Wisconsin, and in 1879 settled in Marshfield, at a time when the city was just being platted. There he built a saw and shingle mill, a furniture factory, general store, machine shop, and flour mill, and also helped to organize the First National Bank of Marshfield and became its president. Although Upham suffered heavy losses in the Marshfield fire of 1887, he was a leader in rebuilding the city's industries. A Republican, he was elected governor of Wisconsin in 1894, defeating incumbent Democrat George W. Peck (q.v.), and served one term (Jan. 1895-Jan. 1897). Upham was not a candidate for renomination in 1896, but returned to his business enterprises in Marshfield, where he resumed the presidency of the Water, Electric Light and Power Co. and the Upham Manufacturing Co. He continued to be a prominent Marshfield business leader until his death. Wis. Blue Book (1927); Natl. Cyclopaedia Amer. Biog., 12 (1904); Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, July 3, 1924.
[Source: Blue book]


Scofield, Edward 1842 - 1925
  Definition: businessman, lumberman, politician, governor, b. Clearfield, Pa. He worked as an apprentice printer before coming to Wisconsin, and served four years in a Pennsylvania regiment during the Civil War, rising to the rank of major. In 1868 he moved to Wisconsin, settling in Oconto, where he became foreman in a local lumber mill. He started his own lumber business in 1876, formed Edward Scofield and Co. in 1890, and subsequently became a partner in the Scofield and Arnold Manufacturing Co. A Republican, Scofield was state senator (1887-1890), and an unsuccessful aspirant to the Republican nomination for governor in 1894. In 1896, a year made politically critical by the rising forces of Robert M. La Follette, Sr. (q.v.), in Wisconsin, and William Jennings Bryan in the nation, Scofield won the Republican gubernatorial nomination and the election. He was returned to office in 1898, and his four-year administration (Jan. 1897 Jan. 1901) was characterized by business-like efficiency in the internal structure of state government: revision of the bookkeeping system, civil service installations, and recommendations for the establishment of a tax commission. After 1901 he retired from active politics, and devoted his remaining years to his business interests in Milwaukee and Oconto. Wis. Blue Book (1899), (1927); A. M. Thomson, Political Hist. of Wis. (Milwaukee, 1900); W. A. Titus, Hist. of the Fox River Valley . . . (3 vols., Chicago, 1930). [Source: Blue book]


La Follette, Robert Marion Sr. 1855 - 1925
  Definition: lawyer, politician, governor, U.S. Senator, known as "Fighting Bob," progenitor of the most famous family in Wisconsin political history, b. Prim-rose, Dane County. Of French Huguenot origin, the family migrated (1850) to Wisconsin by way of Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana. Robert grew up on a farm and entered the Univ. of Wisconsin in 1874. While there he edited the campus paper, won the Inter-State Oratorical Contest with an oration on "Iago," and was influenced by the moral and ethical teachings of President John Bascom (q.v.). After graduating (B.A., 1879), he studied law and was admitted to the bar (1880). The same year he was nominated and elected district attorney over the opposition of Madison postmaster and local political boss, Elisha W. Keyes (q.v.). In 1884 he was elected to Congress, again over the opposition of Keyes. As a Republican Congressman, he was active in support of conservation, preservation of the public lands, and economy in public spending. He supported Speaker Thomas B. Reed in organizing the House and favored the McKinley Tariff. He was friendly with Philetus Sawyer (q.v.), Wisconsin Senator and state political boss. Due to a Democratic sweep he was defeated for re-election in 1890. In 1891 he became embroiled with Sawyer in a celebrated controversy over the Treasury Cases. He charged that Sawyer had attempted to bribe him to "fix" the cases with his brother-in-law, Circuit Judge Robert Siebecker (q.v.). Sawyer claimed that he did not know of the personal relationship and had merely sought to retain La Follette as his attorney in the case. This incident colored much of Wisconsin politics for the next decade. La Follette declared war on Sawyer and sought to rid the party of its "corrupt, graftridden system of bosses and special privilege." Sawyer in turn denounced La Follette as a Populist, anarchist, socialist, and ingrate. La Follette backed Nils P. Haugen (q.v.), who was defeated for governor in 1894. La Follette sought the nomination for governor in 1896 and again in 1898 but was defeated in the Republican convention each time. In 1900, after Sawyer's death, he formed, with the assistance of Isaac Stephenson (q.v.), Congressman Joseph W. Babcock (q.v.), and Emanuel L. Philipp (q.v.), a "harmony coalition" that conducted a moderate campaign and avoided personal controversies. Without organized opposition La Follette was nominated by acclamation and elected governor on a platform promising a primary election law and more adequate taxation of railroads and other corporations. This harmony front, however, soon split and the Republican party fell into warring progressive and stalwart factions. Although his reforms were blocked in the legislature, La Follette was able to win re-election in 1902 and in 1904 he virtually destroyed the stalwart faction as a result of the famous "Gymnasium Convention," from which the stalwarts bolted when they were unable to prevent La Follette's renomination for a third term. In these years he had built a powerful Progressive machine which supported his reform program and carried elections for him for the next twenty years. In 1905 he was elected to the U.S. Senate but delayed taking his seat until January, 1906. Under La Follette, the Progressives passed a comprehensive primary election law, reorganized the tax structure of the state, established a permanent Tax Commission, a Railroad Commission, a Civil Service Commission, a Legislative Reference Library, and a State Board of Forestry. He was influential in the subsequent passage of a stringent life insurance code, a state income tax, a corrupt practices act, the establishment of a Conservation Commission, and an Industrial Commission. He promoted the growth of the Univ. of Wisconsin and made wide use of experts and specialists from the University on state boards and commissions. This practice became known as the "Wisconsin Idea" and was widely copied throughout the U.S. In the Senate, La Follette soon became the leader of a small group of progressive senators who constantly prodded the administration toward more liberal legislation. He advocated and was in part responsible for a revitalized Interstate Commerce Commission, a federal corrupt practices act, conservation, employers' liability laws, physical valuation of railroads as a basis for rate making, shorter hours for workers on common carriers, a seaman's act, a federal income tax, direct election of senators, and currency and banking reform. He was re-elected to the Senate in 1911, in 1916, and again in 1922. In 1909 he established La Follette's Magazine which gave him a forum for his views on both national and state topics. In 1912 he sought the Republican presidential nomination against President William H. Taft on an advanced progressive platform with the support of the National Progressive Republican League. Despite early successes, his campaign declined with the entrance into the race of Theodore Roosevelt, who drew many progressives to his support. An
unfortunate debacle brought on by excessive fatigue at a Philadelphia publisher's banquet further crippled La Follette's chances. He remained in the race, refusing to compromise with either Taft or Roosevelt. At the convention he received the votes of the Wisconsin delegation and part of the North and South Dakota groups. During World War I he favored strict neutrality, and supported an arms embargo, restrictions on loans and credits, limitations on civilian travel in war zones, and a popular referendum before a declaration of war. He opposed the armed ship bill and was one of six senators who voted against the Declaration of War against Germany. He opposed conscription but sought generally to support the administration's war program. He urged, without success, that the administration adopt a pay-as-you-go policy of financing the war including a massive excess profits tax. He was widely denounced as a German sympathizer and his speeches, notably one in St. Paul, were grossly misquoted. A cry went up to expel him from the Senate and a Senate committee investigated his conduct for more than a year without reaching a decision. In Madison, a majority of the University faculty signed a "Round Robin" resolution protesting against his actions, a resolution of the state legislature denounced him, and the Madison Club expelled him from membership. After the end of the war, the investigation of his conduct was soon quashed, and he took a leading role in the attack upon the Versailles Treaty and the League of Nations. During the Harding administration he was the author of the resolution that launched the Senate investigation of the Teapot Dome affair. In 1924 he ran for President on an Independent and Progressive ticket making an exhausting campaign throughout the country advocating disarmament, government ownership of railroads, farm relief, and labor legislation. He polled almost five million votes and carried the electoral vote of Wisconsin. In a very real sense La Follette was the conscience of the Republican party. A surprisingly large number of measures which he advocated have become law. His portrait hangs in the Senate lounge as one of five most outstanding senators in American history. His statue looks down in Statuary Hall of the federal Capitol as Wisconsin's greatest son. View more information. Robert M. La Follette, La Follette's Autobiography . . . (Madison, 1913); Belle Case La Follette and Fola La Follette, Robert M. La Follette (New York, 1953); Robert S. Maxwell, La Follette and the Rise of the Progressives . . . [Madison, 1956]; Dict. Amer. Biog.; Edward N. Doan, The La Follettes and the Wisconsin Idea (New York, 1947).  [Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]

Info and has been compiled from various sources including:

Wisconsin Blue Book, Wisconsin Historical Society, and Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia

Index

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

 


Note: The Wisconsin Blue Book is a biannual publication of the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. The Blue Book is an almanac containing information on the government, economics, demograpics, geography, and history of the state of Wisconsin. The Blue Book is published in the fall of every odd year, corresponding to the start of each new biennium of the Wisconsin state government. Since 1995, the Blue Book has been available in free electronic form. Hardcover editions of the book may be obtained by Wisconsin residents by contacting their Assembly representative or State Senator.


HOME

©Genealogy Trails