William Allen White (February 10, 1868 – January 29, 1944) was an American newspaper editor, politician, author, and leader of the Progressive movement. Between 1896 and his death, White became a spokesman for middle America.
William Allen White
|Born||February 10, 1868|
|Died||January 29, 1944 (aged 75)|
|Education||College of Emporia and University of Kansas|
|Occupation||Newspaper editor, author|
|Children||William Lindsay White, Mary|
|Parent(s)||Allen, Mary Ann|
Born in Emporia, Kansas, White moved to El Dorado, Kansas, with his parents, Allen and Mary Ann Hatten White, where he spent the majority of his childhood. He loved animals and reading various books. He attended the College of Emporia and the University of Kansas, and in 1889 started work at The Kansas City Star as an editorial writer.
Young White was a political conservative at this stage of his career. In 1896 a White editorial attracted national attention with a scathing attack on William Jennings Bryan, the Democrats, and the Populists titled "What's the Matter With Kansas?" White sharply ridiculed Populist leaders for letting Kansas slip into economic stagnation and not keeping up economically with neighboring states because their anti-business policies frightened away economic capital from the state. White wrote:
"There are two ideas of government," said our noble Bryan at Chicago. "There are those who believe that if you legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, this prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class and rest upon them." That's the stuff! Give the prosperous man the dickens! Legislate the thriftless man into ease, whack the stuffing out of the creditors and tell the debtors who borrowed the money five years ago when money "per capita" was greater than it is now, that the contraction of currency gives him a right to repudiate.
The Republicans sent out hundreds of thousands of copies of the editorial in support of William McKinley during the intensely fought United States presidential election of 1896, providing White with national exposure.
With his warm sense of humor, articulate editorial pen, and commonsense approach to life, White soon became known throughout the country. His Gazette editorials were widely reprinted; he wrote stories on politics syndicated by the George Matthew Adams Service; and he published many books, including biographies of Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge. "What's the Matter With Kansas?" and "Mary White" — a tribute to his 16-year-old daughter on her death in 1921, portraying her as an anti-flapper — were his best-known writings. Locally he was known as the greatest booster for Emporia.
He won a 1923 Pulitzer Prize for his editorial "To an Anxious Friend," published July 27, 1922, after being arrested in a dispute over free speech following objections to the way the state of Kansas handled the men who participated in the Great Railroad Strike of 1922.
In his novels and short stories, White developed his idea of the small town as a metaphor for understanding social change and for preaching the necessity of community. While he expressed his views in terms of the small town, he tailored his rhetoric to the needs and values of emerging urban America. The cynicism of the post-World War I world stilled his imaginary literature, but for the remainder of his life he continued to propagate his vision of small-town community. He opposed chain stores and mail order firms as a threat to the business owner on Main Street. The Great Depression shook his faith in a cooperative, selfless, middle-class America. Like most old Progressives his attitude toward the New Deal was ambivalent: President Franklin D. Roosevelt cared for the country and was personally attractive, but White considered his solutions haphazard. White saw the country uniting behind old ideals by 1940, in the face of foreign threats.
White sought to encourage a viable moral order that would provide the nation with a sense of community. He recognized the powerful forces of corruption but called for slow, remedial change having its origin in the middle class. In his novel In the Heart of a Fool (1918), White fully developed the idea that reform remained the soundest ally of property rights. He felt that the Spanish–American War fostered political unity, and believed that a moral victory and an advance in civilization would be compensation for the devastation of World War I. White concluded that democracy in the New Era inevitably lacked direction, and the New Deal found him a baffled spectator. Nevertheless, he clung to his vision of a cooperative society until his death in 1944.
White became a leader of the Progressive movement in Kansas, forming the Kansas Republican League in 1912 to oppose railroads. White helped Theodore Roosevelt form the Progressive (Bull-Moose) Party in 1912 in opposition to the conservative forces surrounding incumbent Republican president William Howard Taft.
White was a reporter at the Versailles Conference in 1919 and a strong supporter of Woodrow Wilson's proposal for the League of Nations. The League went into operation but the U.S. never joined. During the 1920s, White was critical of both the isolationism and the conservatism of the Republican Party.
According to Roger Bresnahan:
White's finest hour came in his vigorous assault, beginning with Gazette editorials in 1921, on the Ku Klux Klan – a crusade that led him to run for governor of Kansas in 1924 so that his anti-Klan message would reach a broader state and national audience. As expected, White did not win the election, but he was widely credited with deflating Klan intentions in Kansas.
In the 1930s he was an early supporter of the Republican presidential nominees, Alf Landon of Kansas in 1936, and Wendell Willkie in 1940. However, White was on the liberal wing of the Republican Party and wrote many editorials praising the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The last quarter century of White's life was spent as an unofficial national spokesman for Middle America. This led President Franklin Roosevelt to ask White to help generate public support for the Allies before America's entry into World War II. In 1940 White was fundamental in the formation of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, sometimes known as the White Committee. He had to fight the powerful America First faction, which believed, like most other Republicans, that the U.S. should stay out of the war. White spent much of his last three years involved with this committee.
Sometimes referred to as the Sage of Emporia, he continued to write editorials for the Gazette until his death in 1944. He was also a founding editor of the Book of the Month Club along with longtime friend Dorothy Canfield.
White married Sallie Lindsay in 1893. They had two children, William Lindsay, born in 1900, and Mary Katherine, born in 1904. Mary died in a 1921 horse-riding accident, prompting her father to write a famous eulogy, "Mary White," on August 17, 1921.
White visited six of the seven continents at least once in his long life. Due to his fame and success, he received 10 honorary degrees from universities, including one from Harvard.
White taught his son William L. the importance of journalism, and after his death, William L. took charge of the Gazette and continued its local success. William L.'s wife, Kathrine, ran it after he died. Their daughter, Barbara, and her husband, David Walker, took it over much as William had earlier, and today the paper remains family-run, currently headed by WAW's great-grandson, Christopher White Walker.
White developed a friendship with President Theodore Roosevelt in the 1890s that lasted until Roosevelt's death in 1919. Roosevelt spent several nights at White's Wight and Wight-designed home, Red Rocks, during trips across the United States. White was to say later, "Roosevelt bit me and I went mad." Later, White supported much of the New Deal, but voted against Franklin D. Roosevelt every time.
His autobiography, which was published posthumously in 1946 won the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.
Life described him:
He is the small-town boy who made good at home. To the small-town man who envies the glamour of the city, he is living assurance that small-town life may be preferable. To the city man who looks back with nostalgia on a small-town youth, he is a living symbol of small-town simplicity and kindliness and common sense.
The University of Kansas Journalism School is named for him, as is the library building at Emporia State University. There are also two awards the William Allen White Foundation has created: The William Allen White Award for outstanding Journalistic merit and the Children's Book Award.
The city of Emporia raised $25,000 in war bonds during World War II and were granted naming rights for a B-29 bomber in early 1945. They unsurprisingly chose to name it after their most famous citizen, William Allen White. This bomber was sent with a crew of men to the island of Tinian in the South Pacific and was part of the same bomber squadron that the Enola Gay was in.
During WWII a Liberty ship was named for White.
In 1948 a 3¢ stamp was made in his honor by the U.S. Postal Service.
White's image is used by the band They Might Be Giants in stagecraft and music videos.
From editorial Mary White:
A rift in the clouds in a gray day threw a shaft of sunlight upon her coffin as her nervous, energetic little body sank to its last sleep. But the soul of her, the glowing, gorgeous, fervent soul of her, surely was flaming in eager joy upon some other dawn.
From editorial Student Riots, The Emporia (Kansas) Gazette, April 8, 1932:
As a matter of fact student riots of one sort or another, protests against the order that is, kicks against college and university management indicate a healthy growth and a normal functioning of the academic mind.
Youth should be radical. Youth should demand change in the world. Youth should not accept the old order if the world is to move on. But the old orders should not be moved easily—certainly not at the mere whim or behest of youth. There must be clash and if youth hasn't enough force or fervor to produce the clash the world grows stale and stagnant and sour in decay. If our colleges and universities do not breed men who riot, who rebel, who attack life with all their youthful vim and vigor, then there is something wrong with our colleges. The more riots that come on college campuses, the better world for tomorrow.
From 1933 editorial about the futility of war (referring to World War I):
The boys who died just went out and died. To their own souls' glory of course -- but what else? ... Yet the next war will see the same hurrah and the same bowwow of the big dogs to get the little dogs to go out and follow the blood scent and get their entrails tangled in the barbed wire.
We who hate your gaudy guts salute you."
From a March 20, 1899 editorial, The Emporia Gazette:
Riots against the police are occurring in Havana. They will keep occurring. No Latin country governs itself. Self-government is the most difficult thing in the world for a people to accomplish. It is not a matter that a nation acquires by adopting a set of laws. Only Anglo-Saxons can govern themselves. The Cubans will need a despotic government for many years to restrain anarchy until Cuba is filled with Yankees. Uncle Sam, the First, will have to govern Cuba as Alphonso, the Thirteenth, governed it if there is any peace in the island at all. The Cubans are not and, of right, ought not to be free. To say that they are, or that they should be, is folly. Riot will follow riot. Anarchy will rise to be crushed. And unrest will prevail until the Yankee takes possession of the land. Then the Cubans will be an inferior—if not a servile—race. Then there will be peace in the land. Then will Cuba be free. It is the Anglo-Saxon's manifest destiny to go forth in the world as a world conqueror. He will take possession of all the islands of the sea. He will exterminate the peoples he cannot subjugate. That is what fate holds for the chosen people. It is so written. Those who would protest, will find their objections overruled. It is to be.
White had 22 works published throughout his life. Many of these works were collections of short stories, magazine articles, or speeches he gave throughout his long career.
|Awards and achievements|
| Cover of Time Magazine
6 October 1924
Glenn H. Curtiss
|Awards and achievements|
Frank M. O'Brien
| Pulitzer Prize Winners: Journalism
The following are the Pulitzer Prizes for 1947.Barbara Brooks Wallace
Barbara Brooks Wallace (December 3, 1922 – November 27, 2018) was an American children's writer. She won the NLAPW Children's Book Award and International Youth Library "Best of the Best" for Claudia (2001) and William Allen White Children's Book Award for Peppermints in the Parlor (1983).Bud, Not Buddy
Bud, Not Buddy is a children's novel written by Christopher Paul Curtis, published in 1999. The book received the 2000 Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature. Christopher Paul Curtis was also recognized with the 2000 Coretta Scott King Award, an award given to outstanding African-American authors. Bud, Not Buddy was also recognized with the William Allen White Children's Book Award for grades 6-8. Bud Caldwell is a ten-year-old orphan, living in Flint, Michigan, in 1936. Since the death of his mother four years earlier, Bud has been living in an orphanage and had short stints in several foster homes. The few items he has left of his mother include a blanket, a bag of rocks, a photograph of his mother as a child, and flyers that show Herman E. Calloway and his jazz band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression.Emporia, Kansas
Emporia is a city in and the county seat of Lyon County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 24,916. Emporia lies between Topeka and Wichita at the intersection of U.S. Route 50 with Interstates 335 and 35 on the Kansas Turnpike. Emporia is also a college town, home to Emporia State University and Flint Hills Technical College.Emporia Gazette
The Emporia Gazette is a daily newspaper in Emporia, Kansas.
William Allen White bought the newspaper for $3,000 ($90.3 thousand in 2018 dollars) in 1895. Through his editorship, over the next five decades, he became an iconic figure in American journalism and political life. The paper rose to national prominence and influence in the Republican Party following the 1896 publication of "What's the Matter With Kansas?", a White editorial that harshly criticized Populism and the Presidential campaign of William Jennings Bryan. White struck up a friendship with US President Theodore Roosevelt who stayed at the White home, called Red Rocks, during cross country trips.
White won the 1923 Pulitzer Prize for editorials after he was arrested for a free speech violation of a newly enacted law pushed by Kansas Governor Henry Justin Allen. White's autobiography, published posthumously, won the 1947 Pulitzer Prize.
The newspaper is still published by the White family.
Besides owning The Emporia Gazette, The White family owns The St. Marys Star, in St. Marys, Kansas, The Chase County Leader-News, in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, and as of 5 November 2013, The Westmoreland Recorder, in Westmoreland, Kansas. The White Corporation added the Junction City Union, The Abilene Reflector-Chronicle and the Wamego Smoke Signal to its newspaper family in March 2016.Frank Deford
Benjamin Franklin Deford III (December 16, 1938 – May 28, 2017) was an American sportswriter and novelist. From 1980 until his death in 2017, he was a regular sports commentator on NPR's Morning Edition radio program.
Deford wrote for Sports Illustrated magazine from 1962 until his death in 2017, and was a correspondent for the Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel television program on HBO. He wrote 18 books, nine of them novels. A member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame, Deford was six times voted National Sportswriter of the Year by the members of that organization, and was twice voted Magazine Writer of the Year by the Washington Journalism Review.
In 2012, Deford became the first magazine recipient of the Red Smith Award. In 2013, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal, was presented with the William Allen White Citation for "excellence in journalism" by the University of Kansas, and became the first sports journalist ever to receive the National Press Foundation's highest honor, the W.M. Kiplinger Award for Distinguished Contributions to Journalism.
Deford's archives are held by the University of Texas, where an annual lecture is presented in his name. He was a long-time advocate for research and treatment of cystic fibrosis.Maniac Magee
Maniac Magee is a novel written by American author Jerry Spinelli and published in 1990. Exploring themes of racism and homelessness, it follows the story of an orphan boy looking for a home in the fictional Pennsylvania town of Two Mills. He becomes a local legend for feats of athleticism and fearlessness, and his ignorance of sharp racial boundaries in the town. It is popular in elementary school curricula, and has been used in scholarly studies on the relationship of children to racial identity and reading. A film adaptation was released in 2003.Mary White (film)
Mary White is a 1977 made-for-TV period biographical movie directed by Jud Taylor about American newspaper editor and author William Allen White (played by Ed Flanders) and his teenage daughter Mary (played by Kathleen Beller), who died at age 16 in a horseback riding accident. The film is based on the true story of White's daughter Mary Katherine, who died in 1921 and was the subject of a well-known eulogy written by her father.Caryl Ledner won the Emmy Award ® for Best Teleplay, Movie-For-Television, in the 1977-78 season. The film often appeared on television in the 1980s, and is now on DVD.Mick Harte Was Here
Mick Harte Was Here is a novella written by Barbara Park, which focuses on how Phoebe, a thirteen-year-old girl, copes with the death of her brother, Mick Harte, who was killed in a bicycle accident due to head injuries he received while not wearing his helmet. In 1998, the book was awarded the annual William Allen White Children's Book Award.Red Rocks State Historic Site
The Red Rocks State Historic Site is a Kansas historic site at 927 Exchange Street in Emporia, Kansas. It preserves the William Allen White House, also known as Red Rocks, which was the home of Progressive journalist William Allen White from 1899 until his death in 1944. The house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. The property, designated a state historic site in 2001, is operated by the Kansas Historical Society.Russell Freedman
Russell A. Freedman (October 11, 1929 – March 16, 2018) was an American biographer and the author of nearly 50 books for young people. He may be known best for winning the 1988 Newbery Medal with his work Lincoln: A Photobiography.Sarah Weeks
Sarah Weeks (born March 18, 1955) is an American writer of children's books, perhaps best known for the novel So B. It which has won several juvenile literature awards. In 2006 it won the Dolly Gray Children's Literature Award and in 2007 it won the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award and William Allen White Children's Book Award.So B. It
So B. It is a children's novel by Sarah Weeks, released In 2007, it won book awards in Illinois (the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award) and Kansas (the William Allen White Children's Book Award). In 2006 the book was awarded the Dolly Gray Children's Literature Award. It now has a companion called Soof.Socks (novel)
Socks is a children's novel written by Beverly Cleary, originally illustrated by Beatrice Darwin, and published in 1973. It won the William Allen White Children's Book Award. The title character of the book would eventually become the name for Socks Clinton, the cat of U.S. President Bill Clinton and family.Summer of the Monkeys
Summer of the Monkeys is a 1976 children's story written by Wilson Rawls. It was published by Doubleday (later released by Yearling Books) and was the winner of the William Allen White Book Award and the California Young Reader Medal.The Pinballs
The Pinballs is a 1976 young adult novel by American author Betsy Byars. It is about three foster children, Carlie, Harvey and Thomas J., who have been taken in by the Masons, a couple who have cared for many other foster children and also have some personal problems. Carlie compares the children to pinballs, controlled by external forces and at the mercy of fate. It won the 1977 Josette Frank Award, the 1980 William Allen White Children's Book Award, and the 1980 California Young Reader Medal.Wight and Wight
Wight and Wight, known also as Wight & Wight, was an architecture firm in Kansas City, Missouri consisting of the brothers Thomas Wight (September 17, 1874 - October 6, 1949) and William Wight (January 22, 1882 - October 29, 1947) who designed several landmark buildings in Missouri and Kansas.
The brothers were born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and worked for McKim, Mead and White for 10 years. Thomas moved to Kansas City in 1904 and joined a firm with Edward T. Wilder. William joined the firm in 1911 and Wilder retired in 1916.
The firm achieved its greatest in fame in the late 1920s and early 1930s creating large Neoclassical structures which have become Kansas City landmarks.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Kansas City City Hall
Kansas Governor's Mansion
Kansas City Livestock Exchange
Approaches to the Liberty Memorial
Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City
Clay County, Missouri Courthouse
Wyandotte County, Kansas Courthouse
Kansas City Life Insurance headquarters
William Allen White home Red Rocks (now the William Allen White State Historic Site)Works listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places include (with NRHP attribution):
Central National Bank, 701–703 Kansas Ave. Topeka, KS (Wight & Wight)
Harwelden, 2210 S. Main St. Tulsa, OK (Wight & Wight)
Holy Name Catholic Church, 2800 E. 23rd St. Kansas City, MO (Wight & Wight)
Frank Hughes Memorial Library, 210 E. Franklin St. Liberty, MO (Wight & Wight)
Kirkwood Building, 1737-41 McGee St. Kansas City, MO (Wight and Wight)
George H. Nettleton Home, 5125 Swope Parkway Kansas City, MO (Wight & Wight)
George E. Nicholson House, 1028 W. 58th St. Kansas City, MO (Wight & Wight)
Pickwick Hotel, Office Building, Parking Garage and Bus Terminal, 901-937 McGee St., 301-311 E. 9th St., 300-310 E. Tenth St., 906-912 Oak St. Kansas City, MO (Wight and Wight)
U.S. Courthouse and Post Office-Kansas City, MO, 811 Grand Blvd. Kansas City, MO (Wight & Wight)
Wyandotte County Courthouse, 710 N. 7th St. Kansas City, KS (Wight and Wight)
One or more works in the South Liberty Courthouse Square Historic District, 2 S. Main St., 10 E. Kansas St., 1--17 E. Kansas St. Liberty, MO (Wight & Wight)William Allen White Cabins
The William Allen White Cabins are chiefly associated with newspaper editor William Allen White, who adopted what would become Rocky Mountain National Park as his summer residence from 1912 to his death in 1944. White had visited Estes Park, Colorado while in college, and had previously summered in Colorado Springs. In 1912, White and his wife Sallie purchased an 1887 cabin near Estes Park. The Whites expanded it the next year and built a privy, studio, and two guest cabins.
Visitors to the White place included Clarence Darrow, William Jennings Bryan, Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams and U.S. presidential candidate and Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes. After William White's death in 1944 the compound remained in the family until 1972, when the property was purchased by the National Park Service. The property was the first nomination to the National Register of Historic Places from Rocky Mountain National Park. The house was rehabilitated in 1976 for use by artists-in-residence.William Allen White Children's Book Award
The William Allen White Children's Book Award is a set of two annual awards for books selected by vote of Kansas schoolchildren from lists prepared by committee. As a single award it was established in 1952 by Ruth Garver Gagliardo, a children's literature specialist at Emporia State University, which continues to direct the program. It is named for William Allen White (1868–1944), long-time publisher and editor of The Emporia Gazette. The White Award is the oldest statewide children's choice book award in the United States.
From 2001, two winners have been chosen each year, one by students in grades 3 to 5 and one by students in grades 6 to 8, from separate lists of books. The award website at ESU includes an archive of annual Master Lists that is complete back to the list of 18 books for school year 1952–53. Curriculum Guides "designed to be used in teaching or preparing instructional units" are prepared for books on the year's Master List and some past Guides are available.
Currently (2013), the annual celebration at Emporia early in October includes Friday evening "Read-Ins and Sleepovers" with space for 100 people. After Saturday morning activities, student representatives present medals to the winning writers at the Awards Ceremony. Travel to Emporia is an incentive in some classroom reading programs. At least once (2011), a writer declined because of a conflict on the celebration date and was replaced as the White Award winner.The 2013–2014 Master Lists comprised 8 books for grades 3–5 and 10 books for grades 6–8, all published during 2012.
Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography (1926–1950)