JOHN P. ST. JOHN
The Topeka Daily Capital, Friday, Sept.
Died: Aug. 31, 1916
Death Results from Illness
Caused by Heat While Mak-
ing Speech at Jetmore Two
NOTED ADVOCATE OF
Kansan Is Credited with
feat of Blaine for
in 1884 by Becoming Can-
didate on Prohibition
Special to The Capital.
Olathe, Kan., Aug. 31---John P.
St. John, candidate for the presidency on the Prohibition ticket in 1884, twice
governor of Kansas and one of the most widely known temperance advocates in the
United States, died here tonight. He was 83 years old and had been in
failing health since a heat prostration two months ago.
Governor St. John had been unconscious much of the time for the last week and shortly after 5 o’clock this evening fell into a deep sleep from which he never awakened. Death came at 6:40 o’clock. At 5 o’clock his business partner, W. V. E. Parker, called, “Good-bye Martin,” said Governor St. John as he left. Those were his last words.
The illness of Governor St. John
dates back to June 26, when he was prostrated by the heat while on a prohibition
speaking tour at Jetmore, Kan. He came home and was forced to spend
several weeks in bed. On July 30, he was able to attend the national
convention of the Prohibition party at St. Paul, but the shock of the trip
quickly put him back in his former condition. He returned to his home and
had been gradually weakening since.
Besides the widow Governor St.
John leaves one son, John P. St. John Jr., an employee at the state penitentiary
John Pierce St. John was one of the most widely known temperance advocates in the United States. He was a candidate for president on the Prohibition ticket in 1884, and served two terms as governor of Kansas---1879-1883—during which Kansas became a prohibition state.
Describing the fight for prohibition in Kansas, Governor St. John once said:
“The brewers had only themselves to blame for prohibition in Kansas. The first step toward a state-wide movement was at their suggestion. Mr. Hery, a minister, introduced in the house a high license and regulation bill. It stood a good chance of passage. To defeat it, the brewery agents suggested the people be given an opportunity to vote on state-wide prohibition. Of course it was not the purpose of the brewers to submit prohibition at all. But the coup to kill the high license bill killed the saloon in Kansas.
The Fight in Kansas.
“The prohibitory amendment
was submitted to the senate and passed. The house was to kill it.
The brewers had it all figured out. Enough members favored high license,
but not prohibition, they believed, to defeat any attempt to submit the
proposition to the people. The brewers guessed wrong about public
“Every influence was brought to
bear on house members by the brewers. I was governor, but I couldn’t
keep out of the fight. Violating all precedent, I left the governor’s
office to help fight the battle on the house floor.
“The day for the vote came.
The galleries were packed. The politicians tried hard to avoid a vote by
hiding. The sergeant-at-arms was busy rounding them up and bringing them
into the chamber. Finally the voting was begun. The silence was
intense. We needed one vote to get the necessary two-thirds to carry the
proposition thru. We did not know how to get it. All at once Mrs.
Greaver (the wife of one of the members) started down the aisle to her
husband’s desk. She stopped before him, and seizing his hand in hers,
pleaded with him.
“For my sake, for the sake of
your children, she cried, change your vote. Do it for my sake, for my
sake, no matter what you believe.”
“Greaver changed his vote, while
the building shook with cheers.”
Veteran of Civil War.
Born at Brookville, Ind., February 25, 1833, St. John served as a captain and lieutenant colonel in the Civil war, and settled in Kansas, where he became a member of the state senate. He became a political factor when he won a fight to displace United States Senator Samuel E. Pomeroy. Pomeroy and St. John had been personal friends, but the later became displeased with the way Pomeroy conducted himself as a senator, and thereupon championed John J. Ingalls, Pomeroy’s opponent, who won. This made St. John a leader and resulted in his election as governor.
Called a “Traitor.”
He was called a “traitor” when he deserted the Republican party and became a candidate for president on the Prohibition ticket in ’84. During his campaign he was burned or hung in effigy more than 500 times. He was twice shot at but unhurt. Many Republicans attributed the defeat of James G. Blaine for president to St. John’s entrance into the race.
In 1912, notwithstanding his
advanced age, he stumped Kansas for woman suffrage, declaring that when women
had the vote they would have prohibition. In 1914 he campaigned in the
east for prohibition, estimating that up to that time he had, altogether,
traveled 150,000 miles and delivered 4,500 speeches in behalf of the prohibition
When he was in the Kansas capital
he inaugurated the first “water banquets,” with the result that liquor has
been made taboo in the Kansas state house ever since.
The Topeka Daily Capital, Monday, Sept.
Imposing Ceremonies at
Over Late Ex-Governor of
sas Held at Olathe.
Special to The Capital.
Olathe, Kan., Sept. 1---The
funeral of the late ex-Gov. John P. St. John was held here today with imposing
ceremonies. Gov. Arthur Capper and ex-Gov. George H. Hodges delivered
eulogies at the service, as did H. O. Farfa, of Chicago, representative of the
national Prohibition party.
The funeral in charge of Dr. M. M.
Culpepper, assisted by Rev. B. P. Rlepman, was held at the first Congregational
church. The Olathe band led the funeral procession to the cemetery.