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John St. John (American politician) facts for kids

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John St. John
John St John 1880.jpg
8th Governor of Kansas
In office
January 13, 1879 – January 8, 1883
Lieutenant Lyman U. Humphrey
David Wesley Finney
Preceded by George T. Anthony
Succeeded by George Glick
Member of the Kansas Senate from the 9th District
In office
Personal details
John Pierce St. John

(1833-02-25)February 25, 1833
Brookville, Indiana, U.S.
Died August 31, 1916(1916-08-31) (aged 83)
Olathe, Kansas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Other political
Prohibition (1884)
Spouse(s) Mary Jane Brewer
Susan Parker
Children 3
Mother Sophia Snell
Father Samuel St. John
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Branch/service Union Army
Years of service 1853-1854
Rank Lieutenant colonel
Unit 143rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars American Indian Wars
American Civil War

John Pierce St. John (February 25, 1833 - August 31, 1916) was the eighth Governor of Kansas and served as the Prohibition presidential nominee in 1884. Under his tenure as governor Kansas became the third state to enact a statewide prohibition of alcohol which would last until 1948 and remain in some form until 1987. After leaving elected office he maintained his position in the Prohibition party and remained active in the party's presidential politics and was a major figure in the party schism during the 1896 presidential election.

Early life

On February 25, 1833, John Pierce St. John was born in Brookville, Indiana, to Samuel St. John and Sophia Snell. In 1852, he became the conductor of an ox team which he led to California. During his time in California he fought against the Modoc Native Americans in California and Oregon. John was a congregationalist until the 1870s when he converted and became a Christian scientist. From 1852 to 1859, he was married to Mary Jane Brewer and had one son until their divorce. On March 28, 1860, he married Susan J. Parker and later had two children with her.


During the American Civil War he served as lieutenant colonel of the 143rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Union Army from 1861 to 1864. At the end of the war he lived in Independence, Missouri until 1869 when he moved to Olathe, Kansas. From 1873 to 1874 he served in the Kansas Senate and was the Republican Governor of Kansas from 1879 to 1883.

He was the first governor of Kansas to have a formal inauguration ceremony. He was active in the temperance movement and successfully promoted a prohibition amendment to the state's constitution in 1881. St. John also helped create the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association during the Great Exodus of African-Americans to Kansas in 1879. In 1879, the religious colony of Zion Valley was renamed to St. John in his honor to gain favor in winning the county seat of Stafford County. In 1882, he ran for reelection to a third term, but was defeated by George Washington Glick with 83,232 votes to 75,158 votes.


He was the Prohibition Party candidate for President of the United States in the 1884 election. On October 2, 1884, he was nearly shot, with the bullet hitting the window next to him. He received 147,482 votes for 1.5% of the popular vote on a ticket with William Daniel which was an increase of 137,118 votes from Neal Dow's results in 1880 due to support from Frances Willard and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. He was blamed for James G. Blaine's defeat and on November 27, 1884, an effigy of him was burned in Topeka, Kansas in front of a crowd of three thousand people.

He was made chairman of the 1888 Prohibition national convention and oversaw the writing of the party's platform. He declined to seek the Prohibition Party's presidential nomination for the 1892 presidential election and instead nominated John Bidwell who went on to win the nomination and was named as the temporary chairman of the convention. At the 1896 Prohibition convention he supported the broad gauger faction that wanted to add women's suffrage and free silver to the party's platform, but after the narrow gauger faction successfully defeated those attempts John, Charles Eugene Bentley, and Helen M. Gougar led a walkout of the broad gaugers and created the breakaway National Party and nominated a rival ticket with Bentley as president and James H. Southgate as vice president. Following the 1896 election he became disillusioned with party and joined the People's Party although he would later return to the Prohibition party.

Later life

On December 3, 1887, he, with a group of followers, bought 10,000 acres of land in Newhall, California, to create a dry community. In 1912, he toured Kansas in support of women's suffrage. On June 20, 1916, he suffered from heat exhaustion, but was able to recover enough to attend the 1916 Prohibition national convention in July. St. John died after suffering heat exhaustion on August 31, 1916, in Olathe, Kansas. His funeral was attended by Governor Arthur Capper, former Governor George H. Hodges, and Herman P. Faris who served as the Prohibition Party's representative.

Electoral history

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