Joseph L. Bristow

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For the British academic of the same name, see Joseph Bristow (literary scholar).
Joseph Little Bristow
United States Senator
from Kansas
In office
March 4, 1909 – March 3, 1915
Preceded by Chester I. Long
Succeeded by Charles Curtis
Personal details
Born (1861-07-22)July 22, 1861
Hazel Green, Kentucky
Died July 14, 1944(1944-07-14) (aged 82)
Fairfax, Virginia
Political party Republican

Joseph Little Bristow (July 22, 1861 – July 14, 1944) was an American Republican politician from Kansas.

Born outside Hazel Green, Kentucky, he moved to Kansas when he was twelve. He graduated from Baker University when he was 25.

He edited several newspapers in Salina, Kansas before serving as a private secretary to Governor Edmund Morrill. He was President William McKinley's fourth assistant postmaster general.

Bristow was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1908 and served from 1909 to 1915. Bristow is perhaps best known for provoking a sarcastic comment from Vice President Thomas R. Marshall. One day while Bristow was delivering a speech in the Senate on "what this country needs", Marshall whispered loudly enough for most of the chamber to hear, "What this country really needs is a good five-cent cigar."

Bristow fought fiercely for direct election of Senators, which, until the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1912, were elected by (or appointed by processes established by) state legislatures.[1]

Bristow is also known for giving Dwight D. Eisenhower his recommendation for entrance into the United States Military Academy.

Bristow was defeated in his 1914 re-election bid. He spent the rest of his days farming his Virginia estate, Ossian Hall. When he died in 1944, his body was returned to Kansas for burial next to his wife Margaret in Salina's Gypsum Hill Cemetery.


  1. ^ Explicit and Authentic acts amending the Constitution, David E. Kyvig. pp 210-213

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Chester I. Long
U.S. Senator from Kansas, Class 3
Succeeded by
Charles Curtis