J. C. W. Beckham
1869 – 1940
Who was J. C. W. Beckham?
John Crepps Wickliffe Beckham was the 35th Governor of Kentucky and a United States Senator from Kentucky. He was the state's first popularly elected senator following passage of the Seventeenth Amendment.
Descended from a prominent political family, Beckham was chosen as Democrat William Goebel's running mate in the gubernatorial election of 1899 despite the fact that he was not yet of legal age to serve as governor if called to do so. Goebel lost the election to Republican William S. Taylor, but the Kentucky General Assembly disputed the election results. During the political wrangling that followed, an unknown assassin shot Goebel. A day later the General Assembly invalidated enough votes to give the election to Goebel, who was sworn into office on his deathbed. Taylor claimed the election had been stolen by the Democratic majority in the General Assembly and a legal fight ensued between him and Beckham over the governorship. Beckham ultimately prevailed and Taylor fled the state.
Following his term as governor, Beckham made a bid to become a U.S. Senator. His stance in favor of prohibition cost him the votes of four legislators in his own party and the seat went to Republican William O. Bradley. Six years later Beckham secured the seat by popular election, but he lost his re-election bid largely because of his pro-temperance views and his opposition to women's suffrage. Though he continued to play an active role in state politics for another two decades, he never returned to elected office, failing in his gubernatorial bid in 1927 and his senatorial campaign in 1936. He died in Louisville on January 9, 1940.
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