Monday, March 4, 2019

Governor Withycombe Died in Office 100 Years Ago

Secretaries of State have been in the news sadly this last week, and 100 years ago, another Secretary of State was in the news.

Almost immediately following the end of the 1919 Legislative session, Oregonians were surprised to learn that Governor Withycombe was ill and had died, and Secretary of State Ben Olcott succeeded to the Governor's office.

March 4th, 1919

National news competed for the headline and the front page layout's a little funny. The photos of Withycombe and Olcott are balanced, but the Olcott half of the story is displaced a little by the story and headline about Republican opposition to the League of Nations.

The details of Olcott's succession are a little funny also. "Out of consideration for the memory of Governor Withycombe" Olcott wasn't sworn in until after the funeral, which left Oregon without a Governor during the interim. It seems he didn't sign a number of bills, either, just letting them become law by default.

The apparent problem of not having a Lieutenant Governor no longer seems very large. We take it as a matter of fact that the Secretary of State is next in line, and Governor Brown's assumption of the office did not bring out calls for a Lieutenant Governor.

One thing has changed. Olcott served as both Governor and Secretary of State, and we no longer allow this.

Walter Pierce looks more belligerent than neighborly here!
(Isn't this a pose we see from LBJ?)
February 24th, 1919
Olcott lost his reelection campaign in 1922 to the Klan-backed Walter Pierce.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

It took until January of 1920 for the courts to resolve the issues in succession, and Sam Kozer unambiguously became full Secretary of State on June 1st of 1920. So the whole thing took a little more than a year to resolve.