Arthur Capper

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For the housing project in Washington, D.C, see Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg.
Arthur Capper
Arthur Capper.png
United States Senator
from Kansas
In office
March 4, 1919 – January 3, 1949
Preceded by William H. Thompson
Succeeded by Andrew F. Schoeppel
20th Governor of Kansas
In office
January 11, 1915 – January 13, 1919
Lieutenant William Yoast Morgan
Preceded by George H. Hodges
Succeeded by Henry J. Allen
Personal details
Born July 14, 1865
Garnett, Kansas
Died December 19, 1951 (aged 86)
Topeka, Kansas
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Florence Crawford
Profession printer, newspaper editor
Religion Quaker

Arthur Capper (July 14, 1865 – December 19, 1951) was an American politician from Kansas. He was the 20th Governor of Kansas from 1915 to 1919 and a United States Senator from 1919 to 1949.

Life and career[edit]

Capper was born in Garnett, Kansas. He attended the public schools and learned the art of printing. He became a newspaper publisher, eventually owning several newspapers and two radio stations. The best known of his publications, Capper's Weekly, had an enormous readership among farm families and served as the base of his political support in Kansas. "Capper's" continues today as a bimonthly glossy magazine that focuses on rural living.

Capper first entered politics in 1912 when he became the Republican candidate for Governor of Kansas. In addition to a reputation built from his newspapers, he was also the son-in-law of former governor Samuel J. Crawford. He was defeated by Democrat George H. Hodges. However, Capper was elected governor in the next election in 1914 and served as Governor of Kansas from 1915 until 1919, winning re-election in 1916. He was the first native Kansan to serve as the state's governor.

Postcard for 1912 campaign for governor

Having served two full terms as Governor, Capper was not permitted to run for a third term by the Kansas State Constitution. Instead, in 1918 he ran for election to the United States Senate and won. Capper became a long-serving senator, representing Kansas as one of its two senators for five 6-year terms. He was in the Senate from 1919 to 1949, and prominent among Republicans who supported the relief efforts and other policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration. He did not seek reelection in 1948.

Capper was particularly interested in issues relating to agriculture. Before his time as governor, he served as President of the Board of Regents of Kansas State Agricultural College (now known as Kansas State University) from 1910 to 1913. While in the United States Senate, he at times served as chairman of the Committee of Expenditures of the Department of Agriculture and the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. He also at times served as chairman of the Committee on Claims and the Committee on the District of Columbia. He co-sponsored the Capper-Volstead Act. In 1923 Senator Capper brought forward a constitutional amendment with an anti-miscegenation provision outlawing mixed-race marriages, but struck out the passage after protest from African-American organizations and stated it was an unnecessary troublemaker. The withdrawal of this section by the Senator was made easier because he himself did not write the bill. It was drawn by the attorney of the American Federation of Women's Clubs.[1]

In April 1943 a confidential analysis by British scholar Isaiah Berlin of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the British Foreign Office described Capper as:

a solid, stolid, 78-year-old reactionary from the corn belt, who is the very voice of Mid-Western "grass root" isolationism. A newspaper proprietor who was once described as contriving to sit on the fence and keep both ears on the ground at the same time. Like Johnson and Nye, an unwavering opponent of all the Administration's foreign policies, including reciprocal trade.[2]

Capper became Chairman of the Senate's Agriculture Committee in 1946; by that point, at the age of 81, he was nearly deaf and his speech was difficult to understand.[3]

After retiring from the Senate, Capper returned to his home in Topeka, Kansas where he continued the newspaper publishing business until his death. He was buried in Topeka Cemetery in a plot adjacent to Governor Crawford.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Miscegenation, Time Magazine, July 23, 1923
  2. ^ Hachey, Thomas E. (Winter 1973–1974). "American Profiles on Capitol Hill: A Confidential Study for the British Foreign Office in 1943" (PDF). Wisconsin Magazine of History 57 (2): 141–153. JSTOR 4634869. 
  3. ^ Dirk Johnson and David Herszenhorn, "In South Dakota Race, Gauging the Impact of a Senator's Health", The New York Times, October 23, 2008, page A16.

Further reading[edit]

  • Socolofsky, Homer. Arthur Capper: Publisher, Politician, and Philanthropist (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press), 1962.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
George H. Hodges
Governor of Kansas
Succeeded by
Henry J. Allen
United States Senate
Preceded by
William H. Thompson
United States Senator (Class 2) from Kansas
Succeeded by
Andrew F. Schoeppel