Alex J. Groesbeck

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Alex Groesbeck
AlexJGroesbeck.jpg
30th Governor of Michigan
In office
January 1, 1921 – January 1, 1927
Lieutenant Thomas Read
George W. Welsh
Preceded by Albert E. Sleeper
Succeeded by Fred W. Green
Personal details
Born March 7, 1873
Warren, Michigan
Died March 10, 1953 (aged 80)
Detroit, Michigan
Political party Republican
Alma mater University of Michigan

Alexander Joseph Groesbeck (March 7, 1873[1] – March 10, 1953) was an American politician who served as Attorney General and the 30th Governor of the State of Michigan.[2]

Early life[edit]

Groesbeck was born in Warren, Michigan, the son of Macomb County Sheriff Louis Groesbeck and his wife Julia (Coquillard) Groesbeck.[2] Groesbeck attended the public schools of Mount Clemens, Michigan, and of Wallaceburg, Ontario, where his parents resided for two years with their family. Groesbeck wanted to become a lawyer from an early age, and undertook the study of law in the office of an attorney at Port Huron, Michigan. He went on to earn a law degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1893. He was admitted to the bar that year and set up practice in Detroit where he rapidly gained the "respect, goodwill and confidence of his colleagues, because of his close conformity to the highest ethical standards of the profession".[1]

Politics[edit]

Groesbeck's entrance into state politics came in 1912, when he led efforts to select a delegation to the Republican National Convention favorable to the renomination of U.S. President William Howard Taft. Groesbeck also actively led the party faction supporting Taft in the general election. In the same year, Groesbeck was elected the state party chairman, serving until 1914.[1] He was a candidate for Governor of Michigan in 1914, but lost in the Republican primary election to Chase S. Osborn.[3] In 1916, Groesbeck was elected Attorney General of Michigan, and was re-elected in 1918.

As reported in the New York Times, Attorney General Groesbeck supported a call for Henry Ford to run for the United States Senate as a Republican. This vision was opposed by many other members of the party.[4]

In 1920, he won the Republican primary election for Governor and defeated Democrat and former governor Woodbridge N. Ferris in the general election. After being re-elected in 1922 and 1924, Groesbeck lost to Fred W. Green in the 1926 Republican primary election.[3] In 1924, he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention, which chose U.S. President Calvin Coolidge to be re-elected. In addition to Groesbeck's political work, he was one of the builders of the Flint-Saginaw Interurban Railway.[1]

At the Detroit Club, he was instrumental in 1922 in selecting James Couzens to be the successful Republican candidate for the Senate seat left vacant by Truman Newberry.[5]

In 1925, Groesbeck vetoed legislation that would have created a state poet laureate. TIME magazine reported:[6]

Forgetful of the state poets of republican Athens, the Governor's historical knowledge led him to describe the bill as "a reversion to monarchical customs" which "has no place in a republican form of government."

During his six years in office, the state's highway growth continued, prison reform measures were sanctioned, state titles for automobiles began, and state government was restructured and consolidated.

He was defeated in the 1930 Republican primary election by Wilber M. Brucker.[3]

Groesbeck is recognized as an important "road builder" in Michigan, being the first governor to champion the use of concrete and 'take Michigan out of the mud.'

In 1924, he opposed a ballot initiative (sponsored by the Public School Defense League) to require attendance at public schools and outlaw private ones; this placed him at odds with the position of the then increasingly popular Ku Klux Klan, which supported the opposing candidate, James Hamilton.[7]

Retirement, death and legacy[edit]

Groesbeck's tomb, at Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan.

Groesbeck was later appointed chairman of the Michigan Civil Service Commission, and served from 1941 to 1944. Also in 1944, he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention which nominated for U.S. President, Thomas Dewey, who would lose to the three-term President Franklin Roosevelt in the general election. He was also a member of the Detroit Bar Association, the Michigan Bar Association and the American Bar Association, and in club circles was well known as a member of the Detroit Club and the Detroit Athletic Club.[1]

Groesbeck's gubernatorial papers are kept in the Archives of the State of Michigan.[8]

He died in Detroit, three days after his 80th birthday, and is interred there at Woodlawn Cemetery.[2][9]

Groesbeck Highway (M-97) was named for the governor, both because of the local prominence of the Groesbeck family in Macomb county and Oakland County and because of his strong support for building roads and highways in Michigan.[10][11]

He is memorialized by a state historical marker[12] in the City of Warren.[13][14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Burton, Clarence M. editor-in-chief (2005) [1922]. "s.v. Alexander J. Groesbeck". The city of Detroit, Michigan, 1701–1922. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Library. pp. 668–271. Retrieved 2006-05-29. 
  2. ^ a b c "s.v. Groesbeck, Alexander Joseph (1873–1953)". The Political Graveyard. Archived from the original on June 14, 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-29. 
  3. ^ a b c "Michigan: Governors". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 2012-03-22. 
  4. ^ Michigan Republicans Split on Henry Ford – Attorney General Groesbeck Supports Him, June 18, 1918. New York Times
  5. ^ "Tradition" from The Detroit Club[dead link]
  6. ^ "Free Fights, No Laureate". TIME Magazine Archive Article. 1925-05-18. Retrieved 2006-05-29. 
  7. ^ "Mackinac Center, Governor Groesbeck: Road Builder and Defender of School Choice.". 
  8. ^ "Archives of Michigan." (PDF). 
  9. ^ "Find a grave, Alex Groesbeck.". 
  10. ^ "s.v. M-97". Michigan Highways. Archived from the original on June 15, 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-29. 
  11. ^ "Governor Groesbeck: Road Builder and Defender of School Choice". Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Retrieved 2006-05-29. 
  12. ^ "Michigan Historical markers". 
  13. ^ "Warren Historical and Genealogical Society, Marker and Picture of Alexander Groesbeck.". [dead link]
  14. ^ City of Warren, Alex Groesbeck historical marker information.[dead link]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
W.F. Knox
Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party
1912–1914
Succeeded by
Gilman M. Dame
Legal offices
Preceded by
Grant Fellows
Michigan Attorney General
1917–1920
Succeeded by
Merlin Wiley
Political offices
Preceded by
Albert E. Sleeper
Governor of Michigan
1921–1927
Succeeded by
Fred W. Green