Alf Landon

Alf Landon

Infobox Governor
name= Alfred M. Landon

office= Governor of Kansas
term_start= January 9, 1933
term_end= January 11, 1937
lieutenant= Charles W. Thompson
predecessor= Harry H. Woodring
successor= Walter A. Huxman
birth_date= September 9, 1887
birth_place= West Middlesex, Pennsylvania
death_date= October 12, 1987 (age 100)
death_place= Topeka, Kansas
spouse= Margaret Fleming, Theo Cobb
profession= banker, oilman, politician
party= Republican
religion= Methodist
alma_mater= University of Kansas

Alfred "Alf" Mossman Landon (September 9, 1887October 12, 1987) was an American Republican politician, who served as Governor of Kansas from 1933–1937. He was best known as Republican Presidential Nominee, defeated in a landslide by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election.

Early life

Born in West Middlesex, Pennsylvania, in 1887, Landon grew up in Marietta, Ohio [cite web
title=The Alf Landon legacy
] . He moved with his family to Kansas at age 17 and graduated from the University of Kansas in 1908. He first pursued a career in banking, but in 1912 he became an independent petroleum producer in Independence, KS. During World War I, Landon served in the Army as a first lieutenant in chemical warfare. By 1929 the oil industry had made him a millionaire.

Political career

Landon supported Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party in 1912, and, in 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 1934ndash the only Republican governor in the nation to be re-elected that year. He served as governor from 1933 until 1937. 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 social issues. He supported parts of the New Deal but opposed labor unions.

1936 Election

In 1936, Landon sought the Republican presidential nominee opposing the re-election of FDR. At the Republican National Convention in 1936, 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 future FDR's Secretary of 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." ["Time", Aug. 31, 1936]

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 corruptionndash 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." ["Time" Oct. 26, 1936]

The 1936 presidential election was extraordinarily lopsided. Although Landon gained nearly 17 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 8 electoral votes to Roosevelt's 523. FDR's win was the most crushing electoral victory since 1820. 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 elective 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 failed to enter Franklin Roosevelt's Cabinet because he made his acceptance contingent upon the President's renunciation of a third term. [Mayer 1966]

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 1940 he argued against lend-lease, urging instead that Britain be given $5 billion outright. After the war, he backed the Marshall Plan, while opposing high domestic spending. After the communist takeover of 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, he urged the U.S. to join the European Common Market. 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." 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 died October 12, 1987, in Topeka, Kansas, 34 days after his 100th birthday. Until his death, he was the earliest born U.S. governor of any state still living, a title he assumed in 1984 on the death of George Alexander Parks, another centenarian. When Landon died, the title went to Albert B. Chandler of Kentucky. Alf Landon is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas.

His 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 is her former senatorial colleague Howard Henry Baker, Jr., of Tennessee.

Electoral history

Kansas gubernatorial election, 1932 [ [ Our Campaigns - KS Governor Race - Nov 08, 1932 ] ]
*Alf Landon (R) - 278,581 (34.82%)
*Harry Hines Woodring (D, Inc.) - 272,944 (34.12%)
*John Romulus Brinkley (I) - 244,607 (30.58%)

Republican primary for Governor of Kansas, 1934 [ [ Our Campaigns - KS Governor - R Primary Race - Aug 07, 1934 ] ]
*Alf Landon (Inc.) - 233,956 (79.87%)
*John Romulus Brinkley - 58,983 (20.14%)

Kansas gubernatorial election, 1934 [ [ Our Campaigns - KS Governor Race - Nov 06, 1934 ] ]
*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 [ [ Our Campaigns - US President - R Primaries Race - Feb 01, 1936 ] ]
*William E. Borah - 1,478,676 (44.48%)
*Alf Landon - 729,908 (21.96%)
*Frank Knox - 527,054 (15.85%)
*Earl Warren - 350,917 (10.56%)
*Stephen A. Day - 155,732 (4.69%)
*Warren E. Green - 44,518 (1.34%)
*Leo J. Chassee - 18,986 (0.57%)
*Herbert Hoover - 7,750 (0.23%)
*Frederick Steiwer - 3,285 (0.10%)
*Franklin D. Roosevelt (write-in) - 1,159 (0.04%)

1936 Republican National Convention
*Alf Landon - 984 (98.11%)
*William E. Borah - 19 (1.89%)

United States presidential election, 1936
*Franklin D. Roosevelt/John Nance Garner (Democratic, Inc.) - 27,752,648 (60.8%) and 523 electoral votes (46 states carried)
*Alf Landon/Frank Knox (Republican) - 16,681,862 (36.5%) and 8 electoral votes (2 states carried)
*William Lemke/Thomas C. O'Brien (Union) - 892,378 (2.0%) and 0 electoral votes
*Norman Thomas/George A. Nelson (Socialist) - 187,910 (0.4%) and 0 electoral votes
*Earl Browder/James W. Ford (Communist) - 79,315 (0.2%) and 0 electoral votes
* Others - 53,586 (0.1%) and 0 electoral votes


* [ McCoy, Donald R. "Landon of Kansas" (1966)] standard scholarly biography
* Mayer, George H. "Alf M. Landon, as Leader of the Republican Opposition, 1937–1940." "Kansas Historical Quarterly" 1966 32(3): 325–333. Issn: 0022-8621
* [ Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site]

External links

* [ Alf Landon's Obituary (New York Times)]
* [ Alfred M. Landon Lecture Series on Public Issues (Kansas State University)]
* [ Alf Landon and Social Security Reform] by Nicholaus Mills, Dissent, Spring 2005.
*findagrave|6454 Retrieved on 2008-02-09

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