Alf Landon

Alfred Mossman Landon (September 9, 1887 – October 12, 1987) was an American politician from the Republican Party. He served as the twenty-sixth Governor of Kansas from 1933 to 1937. He was the Republican Party's nominee in the 1936 presidential election, but was defeated in a landslide by incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt who won the electoral college vote 523 to 8.

Born in West Middlesex, Pennsylvania, Landon spent most of his childhood in Marietta, Ohio before moving to Kansas. After graduating from the University of Kansas, he became an independent oil producer in Lawrence, Kansas. His business made him a millionaire, and he became a leader of the liberal Republicans in Kansas. Landon won election as Governor of Kansas in 1932 and sought to reduce taxes and balance the budget in the midst of the Great Depression. He supported many components of the New Deal but criticized some aspects that he found inefficient.

The 1936 Republican National Convention selected Landon as the Republican Party's presidential nominee. He proved to be an ineffective campaigner and carried just two states in the election. After the election, he left office as governor and did not again seek public office. Later in life, he supported the Marshall Plan and President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society programs. He gave the first in a series of lectures, now known as the Landon Lecture Series, at Kansas State University. Landon lived to the age of 100 and died in Topeka, Kansas, in 1987. His daughter, Nancy Kassebaum, represented Kansas in the United States Senate from 1978 to 1997.

Alf Landon
LandonPortr
26th Governor of Kansas
In office
January 9, 1933 – January 11, 1937
LieutenantCharles Thompson
Preceded byHarry Woodring
Succeeded byWalter Huxman
Personal details
Born
Alfred Mossman Landon

September 9, 1887
West Middlesex, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedOctober 12, 1987 (aged 100)
Topeka, Kansas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
  • Margaret Fleming
    (m. 1915; died 1918)
  • Theo Cobb
    (m. 1930)
Children3, including Nancy
EducationUniversity of Kansas, Lawrence (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of servicec. 1917–1918
RankUS Army O2 shoulderboard rotated.svg First Lieutenant
Battles/warsWorld War I

Early life and education

Landon was born in 1887 in West Middlesex, Pennsylvania, the son of Anne (Mossman) and John Manuel Landon.[1] Landon grew up in Marietta, Ohio.[2] He moved with his family to Kansas at age 17 and graduated from the University of Kansas in 1908. Alfred first pursued a career in banking, but in 1912 he became an independent petroleum producer in Independence, Kansas. During World War I, Landon served in the Army as a first lieutenant in chemical warfare.

By 1929, the oil industry had made Alf a millionaire, and he was instrumental in the establishment of the Kansas-Oklahoma division of the United States Oil and Gas Association, then known as the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, a petroleum lobbying organization.[3]

He was married to Margaret Fleming until her death in 1916,[4][5] and survived by his second wife, Theo Cobb.[4][6]

Career

Landon supported Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party in 1912, and by 1922, was private secretary to the governor of Kansas. He later became known as the leader of the liberal Republicans in the state. He was elected chairman of the Republican state central committee in 1928 and directed the Republican successful presidential and gubernatorial campaigns in Kansas in that year.

Landon was elected Governor of Kansas in 1932. He was re-elected governor in 1934, over Democrat Omar B. Ketchum (whose campaign was directed by Clyde Short); Gov. Frank Merriam of California and Landon were the only Republican governors in the nation to be re-elected that year. As governor, Landon gained a reputation for reducing taxes and balancing the budget. Landon is often described as a fiscal conservative who nevertheless believed that government must also address certain social issues. He supported parts of the New Deal and labor unions.

In the 1932 presidential campaign, a coolness developed between Landon and then U.S. President Herbert Hoover. Osro Cobb of Arkansas, a friend of both men, tried to bring about a reconciliation, as he explains in his memoirs:

For reasons I never understood, some friction developed between President Hoover and my friend, Governor Landon, who had a summer place in Evergreen, Colorado ... I was in and out of Colorado during the summers and visited frequently with Governor Landon. I was eager to get him and the President together in hopes of bringing about a reconciliation that would benefit them personally and the Republican Party. All of us were at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs for a meeting, which I saw as an opportunity to get them together ... for dinner, but whatever undercurrent existed remained, and they continued to be cool toward each other. President Hoover was one of the great Americans of this century. He was competent, compassionate, and a man of unequaled qualifications. The country paid an awful price when he was sacrificed by political caprice.[7]

During his gubernatorial years, Landon attempted to address the needs of his Depression-battered state while still advancing the Republican Party. After his speech at the Cleveland convention in 1936, Landon stated, "My chief concern in this crisis is to see the Republican Party name its strongest possible candidate and a man that would be a good president."[8] During the election year, Landon called for a "special session of the Legislature to enact measures to bring Kansas within the requirements of the federal social security program."[9]

1936 presidential election

Alfred Landon-TIME-1936
Cover of Time magazine, 18 May 1936

In 1936, Landon sought the Republican presidential nomination opposing the re-election of FDR. At the 1936 Republican National Convention, Landon's campaign manager John Hamilton mobilized the younger elements of the party against the faction led by Herbert Hoover. Landon won the nomination on the first ballot; the convention selected Chicago newspaper publisher (and FDR's future Secretary of the Navy) Frank Knox as his running mate.

Landon proved to be an ineffective campaigner who rarely traveled. Most of the attacks on FDR and Social Security were developed by Republican campaigners rather than Landon himself. In the two months after his nomination he made no campaign appearances. As columnist Westbrook Pegler lampooned, "Considerable mystery surrounds the disappearance of Alfred M. Landon of Topeka, Kansas ... The Missing Persons Bureau has sent out an alarm bulletin bearing Mr. Landon's photograph and other particulars, and anyone having information of his whereabouts is asked to communicate direct with the Republican National Committee."[10]

Landon respected and admired Roosevelt and accepted much of the New Deal but objected that it was hostile to business and involved too much waste and inefficiency. Late in the campaign, Landon accused Roosevelt of corruption – that is, of acquiring so much power that he was subverting the Constitution. Landon said:

The President spoke truly when he boasted ... 'We have built up new instruments of public power.' He spoke truly when he said these instruments could provide 'shackles for the liberties of the people ... and ... enslavement for the public.' These powers were granted with the understanding that they were only temporary. But after the powers had been obtained, and after the emergency was clearly over, we were told that another emergency would be created if the power was given up. In other words, the concentration of power in the hands of the President was not a question of temporary emergency. It was a question of permanent national policy. In my opinion the emergency of 1933 was a mere excuse ... National economic planning—the term used by this Administration to describe its policy—violates the basic ideals of the American system ... The price of economic planning is the loss of economic freedom. And economic freedom and personal liberty go hand in hand.[11]

The 1936 presidential election was extraordinarily lopsided. Although Landon gained nearly seventeen million votes and obtained the endorsement of track star Jesse Owens, he lost the popular vote by more than 10 million votes. He lost his home state Kansas and carried only Maine and Vermont for a total of eight electoral votes to Roosevelt's 523. In fact on the same day Kansas rejected Landon for the presidency the state also elected Democrat Walter A. Huxman as his successor as governor. FDR's win was the most crushing electoral victory since the 1820 election. The overwhelming Roosevelt victory prompted Democratic Party boss James Farley to joke, "As Maine goes, so goes Vermont".

Later life

Following his defeat, Landon finished out his term as governor of Kansas and returned to the oil industry. Landon did not seek elected office again.

The Republicans' defeats in 1932 and 1936 plunged their party into a period of bitter intraparty strife. Landon played an important role in ending this internal bickering in 1938, in helping to prepare a new group of leaders for the presidential campaign of 1940, and in trying to bring about a compromise between the isolationist and internationalist viewpoints in foreign policy. Landon declined a position in Franklin Roosevelt's Cabinet because he made his acceptance contingent upon the President's renunciation of a third term.[12]

After war broke out in Europe in 1939 Landon fought against isolationists such as America First who supported the Neutrality Act; he feared it would mislead Nazi Germany into thinking the United States was unwilling to fight. In 1941, however, he joined isolationists in arguing against lend-lease, although he did urge that Britain be given $5 billion outright instead. After the war, he backed the Marshall Plan, while opposing high domestic spending. After the communist revolution in China, he was one of the first to advocate recognition of Mao Zedong's communist government, and its admission to the United Nations, when this was still a very unpopular position among the leadership and followers of both major parties.

In 1961, Landon urged the U.S. to join the European Common Market.[4] In November 1962, when he was asked to describe his political philosophy, Landon said: "I would say practical progressive, which means that the Republican party or any political party has got to recognize the problems of a growing and complex industrial civilization. And I don't think the Republican party is really wide awake to that."[4] Later in the 1960s, Landon backed President Lyndon Johnson on Medicare and other Great Society programs.

On December 13, 1966, Landon gave the first "Landon Lecture" at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. Landon's lecture, titled "New Challenges in International Relations" was the first in a series of public issues lectures that continues to this day and has featured numerous world leaders and political figures, including seven U.S. presidents (Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush).

Landon addressed the Republican National Convention in 1976 in Kansas City.[13]

100th birthday and death

President Reagan and Mrs. Reagan attended Landon's hundredth birthday party at his home in Topeka.[14] President Reagan described Landon as "the living soul of Kansas" and remarked, "You don't know what a joy it is to come to a birthday party of someone who in all honesty can call me a kid." Landon, standing with the use of a walking stick, told the President and well-wishers at the party, "It's a great day in my life. And it's a great day in the lives of all of us to have had the privilege that we have today of meeting with the President of the United States and Mrs. Reagan."[15] White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker married Landon's daughter Nancy nine years later.

Landon died in Topeka on October 12, 1987 at 5:25 p.m.,[13] thirty-three days after celebrating his hundredth birthday, and is interred at Mount Hope Cemetery in Topeka. He is the only presidential candidate from a major party to live to at least one hundred years of age (Strom Thurmond reached an age that was a few months older than Landon's but he was a minor party presidential candidate).

Descendants

Landon's daughter, Nancy Landon Kassebaum, was a United States Senator from Kansas. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978, she was re-elected in 1984 and 1990. Her second husband was her former Senate colleague Howard Henry Baker, Jr., of Tennessee (1925–2014).

Electoral history

Kansas gubernatorial election, 1932[16]

Republican primary for Governor of Kansas, 1934[17]

  • Alf Landon (Inc.) – 233,956 (79.87%)
  • John Romulus Brinkley – 58,983 (20.14%)

Kansas gubernatorial election, 1934[18]

  • Alf Landon (R, Inc.) – 422,030 (53.51%)
  • Omar B. Ketchum (D) – 359,877 (45.63%)
  • George M. Whiteside (Socialist) – 6,744 (0.86%)

Republican presidential primaries, 1936[19]

1936 Republican National Convention

United States presidential election, 1936

References

  1. ^ Kestenbaum, Lawrence. "The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Landon". politicalgraveyard.com. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  2. ^ "The Alf Landon legacy". Retrieved 2008-03-30.
  3. ^ "Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association of Oklahoma". okmoga.com. Archived from the original on February 28, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d "Alf Landon, G.O.P. Stand-Bearer, Dies at 100". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  5. ^ "Alfred M. Landon". Topeka, KS: Kansas Historical Society. Archived from the original on December 17, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  6. ^ "Widow of Alf Landon Dies". The New York Times. July 23, 1996. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  7. ^ Osro Cobb, Osro Cobb of Arkansas: Memoirs of Historical Significance, Carol Griffee, ed. (Little Rock, Arkansas: Rose Publishing Company, 1989), pp. 120-121
  8. ^ "Knox Assails Farm Program" (PDF). Amsterdam Evening Recorder. Amsterdam, NY. 1936-03-25. p. 5. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
  9. ^ "Landon Seeks GOP Harmony". The Bradford Era. Bradford, PA. 1936-03-25. pp. 1, 14. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
  10. ^ Time, August 31, 1936
  11. ^ Time October 26, 1936
  12. ^ Mayer 1966
  13. ^ a b "Alf Landon, Republicans' Beloved Loser, Dies at 100", Los Angeles Times, October 13, 1987.
  14. ^ Sipchen, Bobl (8 September 1987), Reagan's Vacation : When the President Takes Time Off Out Here, the Costs and the Logistics Are Enormous, Los Angeles Times, retrieved 3 April 2016
  15. ^ Brinkley, Joel (7 September 1987), At a Party for 100th Birthday, Landon Receives a Kid of 76, The New York Times, retrieved 21 March 2016
  16. ^ "Our Campaigns - KS Governor Race - Nov 08, 1932". www.ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  17. ^ "Our Campaigns - KS Governor - R Primary Race - Aug 07, 1934". www.ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  18. ^ "Our Campaigns - KS Governor Race - Nov 06, 1934". www.ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  19. ^ "Our Campaigns - US President - R Primaries Race - Feb 01, 1936". ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved 2018-06-06.

Further reading

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Frank Haucke
Republican nominee for Governor of Kansas
1932, 1934
Succeeded by
Will West
Preceded by
Herbert Hoover
Republican nominee for President of the United States
1936
Succeeded by
Wendell Willkie
Political offices
Preceded by
Harry Woodring
Governor of Kansas
1933–1937
Succeeded by
Walter Huxman
1932 Kansas gubernatorial election

The 1932 Kansas gubernatorial election took place on November 8, 1932. Democrat Harry H. Woodring, the incumbent Governor of Kansas, was defeated by Alf Landon, a Republican. Landon polled 34.82%, Woodring 34.14%, and John R. Brinkley, an independent, polled 30.58%.

1936 United States elections

The 1936 United States elections was held on November 3. The Democratic Party built on their majorities in both chambers of Congress and maintained control of the presidency.In the presidential election, incumbent Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt won re-election, defeating Republican Governor Alf Landon of Kansas. Roosevelt took every state but Vermont and Maine, winning with the fourth largest electoral vote margin in American history. Roosevelt took just under 61 percent of the popular vote, a number that only Lyndon Johnson would surpass (although the popular vote was not officially counted prior to the 1824 election). Landon decisively won his party's nomination over Idaho Senator William Borah.

The Democrats gained twelve seats in the House of Representatives, furthering their supermajority over the Republicans. The Democrats also maintained a supermajority in the Senate, gaining seven seats.

1936 United States presidential election in Alabama

The 1936 United States presidential election in Alabama took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Voters chose eleven representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Alabama voted for the Democratic candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt over Republican candidate Alf Landon. Roosevelt won Alabama by a margin of 73.56%.

1936 United States presidential election in Arizona

The 1936 United States presidential election in Arizona took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Arizona voters chose three representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Arizona was won by incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D–New York), running with incumbent Vice President John Nance Garner, with 69.85 percent of the popular vote, against Governor of Kansas Alf Landon (R–Kansas), running with publisher Frank Knox, with 26.93 percent of the popular vote. As of the 2016 presidential election, this is the best showing for a Democratic presidential candidate in Arizona.

1936 United States presidential election in Colorado

The 1936 United States presidential election in Colorado took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Voters chose six representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Colorado voted for the Democratic candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt over Republican candidate Alf Landon. Roosevelt won Colorado by a margin of 23.28%. Roosevelt won every county except Elbert County, Kit Carson County and Rio Blanco County. A Democratic Presidential candidate would not win Colorado again until 1948.

1936 United States presidential election in Idaho

The 1936 United States presidential election in Idaho took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Idaho voters chose four representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Idaho was won by incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D–New York), running with Vice President John Nance Garner, with 62.96% of the popular vote, against Governor Alf Landon (R–Kansas), running with Frank Knox, with 33.19% of the popular vote. As of 2019, this is the last time Ada County voted for the Democratic presidential candidate.

1936 United States presidential election in Illinois

The 1936 United States presidential election in Illinois took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Illinois voters chose twenty-nine representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Illinois was won by incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D–New York), running with Vice President John Nance Garner, with 57.70% of the popular vote, against Governor Alf Landon (R–Kansas), running with Frank Knox, with 39.69% of the popular vote.

1936 United States presidential election in Iowa

The 1936 United States presidential election in Iowa took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Iowa voters chose eleven representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Iowa was won by incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D–New York), running with Vice President John Nance Garner, with 54.41% of the popular vote, against Governor Alf Landon (R–Kansas), running with Frank Knox, with 42.70% of the popular vote.

1936 United States presidential election in Kentucky

The 1936 United States presidential election in Kentucky took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Kentucky voters chose eleven representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Kentucky was won by incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D–New York), running with Vice President John Nance Garner, with 58.51% of the popular vote, against Governor Alf Landon (R–Kansas), running with Frank Knox, with 39.92% of the popular vote.

1936 United States presidential election in Louisiana

The 1936 United States presidential election in Louisiana took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Louisiana voters chose ten representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Louisiana was won by incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D–New York), running with Vice President John Nance Garner, with 88.82% of the popular vote, against Governor Alf Landon (R–Kansas), running with Frank Knox, with 11.16% of the popular vote.By percentage of the popular vote won, Louisiana was Roosevelt's third-best state, behind only South Carolina (98.57%) and Mississippi (97.06%).

1936 United States presidential election in Maine

The 1936 United States presidential election in Maine was held on November 3, 1936 as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. The state voters chose five electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Maine voted for Republican Party candidate Alf Landon of Kansas, over Democratic Party candidate and incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Landon won Maine by a margin of 13.97 percent, making it his best state in the Union, and with 55.49% of the popular vote, made it his second strongest state after nearby Vermont. This Landon achieved despite losing two counties (Washington and York) that had voted for Hoover in 1932, as he made gains of up to ten percent in the rock-ribbed Yankee counties of Hancock, Lincoln and Waldo.

Maine had been one of only six states to vote to re-elect embattled incumbent Republican President Herbert Hoover over FDR in the latter's 1932 landslide, and in 1936, it was one of only two states in the entire nation (along with nearby Vermont) to vote for Alf Landon over the wildly popular Roosevelt. Maine and Vermont would ultimately be the only states to reject FDR in all four of his presidential campaigns.

1936 United States presidential election in Michigan

The 1936 United States presidential election in Michigan took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Michigan voters chose nineteen representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Michigan was won by Democratic incumbents president Franklin D. Roosevelt and vice president John Nance Garner, defeating Republican candidate Alf Landon and his running mate Frank Knox by 317,061 votes, or a margin of 17.57%.

1936 United States presidential election in Missouri

The 1936 United States presidential election in Missouri took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Missouri voters chose fifteen representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Missouri was won by incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D–New York), running with Vice President John Nance Garner, with 60.76% of the popular vote, against Governor Alf Landon (R–Kansas), running with Frank Knox, with 38.16% of the popular vote.

1936 United States presidential election in Nebraska

The 1936 United States presidential election in Nebraska took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Nebraska voters chose seven representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Nebraska was won by incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D–New York), running with Vice President John Nance Garner, with 57.14% of the popular vote, against Governor Alf Landon (R–Kansas), running with Frank Knox, with 40.74% of the popular vote.

1936 United States presidential election in North Dakota

The 1936 United States presidential election in North Dakota took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Voters chose four representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

North Dakota voted for the Democratic candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt over Republican candidate Alf Landon and Union candidate William Lemke. Roosevelt won North Dakota by a margin of 33.02%.

1936 United States presidential election in Oklahoma

The 1936 United States presidential election in Oklahoma took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Oklahoma voters chose eleven representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Oklahoma was won by incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D–New York), running with Vice President John Nance Garner, with 66.83% of the popular vote, against Governor Alf Landon (R–Kansas), running with Frank Knox, with 32.69% of the popular vote.To date, the 1936 election is the last in which a Democrat won Tulsa County.

1936 United States presidential election in South Dakota

The 1936 United States presidential election in South Dakota took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Voters chose four representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

South Dakota voted for the Democratic candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt over Republican candidate Alf Landon. Roosevelt won South Dakota by a margin of 11.53%.

1936 United States presidential election in Texas

The 1936 United States presidential election in Texas took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. Texas voters chose twenty-three representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Texas was won by incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D–New York), running with Vice President John Nance Garner, with 87.08% of the popular vote, against Governor Alf Landon (R–Kansas), running with Frank Knox, with 12.32% of the popular vote.By percentage of the popular vote won, Texas was Roosevelt's fifth-best state, behind South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia.

1936 United States presidential election in West Virginia

The 1936 United States presidential election in West Virginia took place on November 3, 1936, as part of the 1936 United States presidential election. West Virginia voters chose eight representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

West Virginia was won by incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D–New York), running with Vice President John Nance Garner, with 60.56% of the popular vote, against Governor Alf Landon (R–Kansas), running with Frank Knox, with 39.20% of the popular vote.

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