John F. Shafroth

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The Honorable
John Franklin Shafroth
John Shafroth.gif
United States Senator
from Colorado
In office
March 4, 1913 – March 3, 1919
Preceded by Simon Guggenheim
Succeeded by Lawrence C. Phipps
18th Governor of Colorado
In office
January 12, 1909 – January 14, 1913
Lieutenant Stephen R. Fitzgarrald
Preceded by Henry A. Buchtel
Succeeded by Elias M. Ammons
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Colorado's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1895 – February 15, 1904
Preceded by Lafe Pence
Succeeded by Robert W. Bonynge
Personal details
Born (1854-06-09)June 9, 1854
Fayette, Missouri
Died February 20, 1922(1922-02-20) (aged 67)
Denver, Colorado
Political party Republican (1895-1897)
Silver Republican (1897-1903)
Democratic (1903-1922)
Alma mater University of Michigan
Profession Law

John Franklin Shafroth (June 9, 1854 – February 20, 1922) was a United States Representative, Senator, and Governor from Colorado.

Early life[edit]

Born in Fayette, Missouri, he attended the common schools and graduated from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1875. He studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1876 and commenced practice in Fayette. He moved to Denver, Colorado in 1879 and continued the practice of law.

Political career[edit]

He was city attorney from 1887 to 1891 and was elected as a Republican to the Fifty-fourth Congress as a Representative. He then joined other Colorado officials such as Senator Henry M. Teller, splitting from the Republicans to join the Silver Republican third party, on whose ticket he was reelected to the Fifty-fifth, Fifty-sixth, and Fifty-seventh Congresses.[1] To the Fifty-eighth Congress, he presented credentials as a Democratic Member-elect. Thus, he served in the U.S. House from March 4, 1895, until his resignation on February 15, 1904, when he declared that, due to fraud in 29 electoral precincts, he was unable to legitimately assert that he had won the election, and requested that his opponent, Robert W. Bonynge, replace him.[2] Subsequently, Shafroth was often referred to (sometimes admiringly, sometimes sarcastically) as "Honest John."[3]

Shafroth was Governor of Colorado from 1909 to 1913, and was instrumental in bringing in Colorado's ballot initiative institutions. In 1912, he was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate, where he served one term from March 4, 1913, to March 3, 1919; he was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1918. While a Senator, Shafroth was chairman of the Committee on Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico (Sixty-third through Sixty-fifth Congresses), the leading Senate sponsor of the Jones-Shafroth Act of 1917 which granted citizenship to Puerto Ricans, and a member of the Committee on the Philippines (Sixty-fifth Congress).

Later life and death[edit]

After leaving the Senate, he served as chairman of the War Minerals Relief Commission from 1919 to 1921.

John F. Shafroth died in 1922 and was interred in Fairmount Cemetery in Denver. His personal and official papers are archived at several locations including the Colorado State Archives (gubernatorial papers), the Colorado Historical Society Library, and the Denver Public Library's Western History and Genealogy Department.


  1. ^ Hagerman, Frank (July 2004). "John Franklin Shafroth". The Colorado Lawyer 33 (7): 15. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  2. ^ Very Honest Man Astounds Lower House of Congress, in The Tacoma Times (via Chronicling America); published February 15, 1904; retrieved 2015-01-03.
  3. ^ Leonard, Stephen J.; Noel, Thomas J.; Walker, Donald L., Jr. (2003). Honest John Shafroth: A Colorado Reformer. University Press of Colorado. ISBN 978-0-942576-07-8. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Lafayette Pence
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Colorado's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Robert W. Bonynge
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Augustus Buchtel
Governor of

Succeeded by
Elias Milton Ammons
United States Senate
Preceded by
Simon Guggenheim
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Colorado
Served alongside: Charles S. Thomas
Succeeded by
Lawrence C. Phipps