State Historic Site
WHEN JOHN KENDRICK was elected Governor of Wyoming in 1914, he was only the second Democrat to do so (the first was John Osborne, a Rawlins physician infamous for having the tanned hide of a lynched outlaw made into shoes which he wore to his inauguration).
During the Democrat’s half-term as governor, the Republican Party enjoyed an overwhelming 36-seat majority in the Wyoming State Legislature. Even so, as Wyoming historian T. A. Larson noted,
Rarely has a Republican governor, let alone a Democratic one, worked more harmoniously with a Republican legislature. The new governor was just the type of Democrat who could get along … since there was nothing in his political philosophy to distinguish him from a regular Republican. Only the accident of Texas birth, it seems, can account for his being a Democrat.
Wyoming Republicans were relatively progressive in those days, so Kendrick was able to sign into law most of the legislation he sought related to workman’s compensation, public utilities, women’s rights, game and fish regulation, direct primaries, and farm loans. His primary failure? No funding was approved for the commission charged with bringing new settlers to the state.
PROHIBITION COMES TO WYOMING
BY 1917, THE Prohibition Movement – the banning of alcoholic beverages – had gained ground in America. Wyoming was one of the few states in the West still allowing the sale of alcohol with little or no restriction. That year, despite his personal belief that the movement would eventually fail, Wyoming Governor John B. Kendrick encouraged the State Legislature to pass a bill allowing voters to decide the issue. As he said, "I am confident that there is a growing conviction in the minds of the people of Wyoming that the time has come [for the state] to move into line with her neighbors."
In late January, state legislators passed a bill allowing such a vote. After he signed the legislation, Kendrick’s wife reacted rather passionately:
A resounding kiss, implanted on the executive lips in full view of a number of persons assembled to witness the governor’s action, was the reward Mrs. Kendrick gave Governor Kendrick.
It was their twenty-sixth wedding anniversary, and Eula stated that John’s support of the bill allowing Wyomingites to vote on the matter of prohibition was the perfect anniversary gift.
BY THE WAY ...
WHEN GIVEN THE choice in 1918 whether to prohibit alcohol or not, Wyoming voters approved the measure by a three-to-one margin.
A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site
April 2016 - December 2016
Four Wyoming Governors (AHC)
Political Cartoon, 1914 (TESHS)