Augustus Owsley Stanley

Augustus Owsley Stanley
A black and white image of a bald man in his fifties wearing a suit
United States Senator
from Kentucky
In office
May 19, 1919 – March 3, 1925
Preceded byGeorge B. Martin
Succeeded byFrederic M. Sackett
38th Governor of Kentucky
In office
December 7, 1915 – May 19, 1919
LieutenantJames D. Black
Preceded byJames B. McCreary
Succeeded byJames D. Black
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1903 – March 3, 1915
Preceded byHenry Dixon Allen
Succeeded byDavid Hayes Kincheloe
Personal details
Born(1867-05-21)May 21, 1867
Shelbyville, Kentucky
DiedAugust 12, 1958(1958-08-12) (aged 91)
Washington, D.C.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Susan F. Soaper (m. 29 April, 1903)
Alma materKentucky Agricultural and Mechanical College
Centre College
SignatureA. O. Stanley

Augustus Owsley Stanley I (May 21, 1867 – August 12, 1958) was an American politician from Kentucky. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as the 38th Governor of Kentucky and also represented the state in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. From 1903 to 1915, Stanley represented Kentucky's 2nd congressional district in the House of Representatives, where he gained a reputation as a progressive reformer. Beginning in 1904, he called for an antitrust investigation of the American Tobacco Company, claiming they were a monopsony that drove down prices for the tobacco farmers of his district. As a result of his investigation, the Supreme Court of the United States ordered the breakup of the American Tobacco Company in 1911. Stanley also chaired a committee that conducted an antitrust investigation of U.S. Steel, which brought him national acclaim. Many of his ideas were incorporated into the Clayton Antitrust Act.

During an unsuccessful senatorial bid in 1914, Stanley assumed an anti-prohibition stance. This issue would dominate his political career for more than a decade and put him at odds with J. C. W. Beckham, the leader of the pro-temperance faction of the state's Democratic Party. In 1915, Stanley ran for governor, defeating his close friend Edwin P. Morrow by just over 400 votes in the closest gubernatorial race in the state's history. Historian Lowell H. Harrison called Stanley's administration the apex of the Progressive Era in Kentucky. Among the reforms adopted during his tenure were a state antitrust law, a campaign finance reform law, and a workman's compensation law. In 1918, Stanley was chosen as the Democratic nominee to succeed the recently deceased senator Ollie M. James. Stanley was elected, but did not resign as governor to take the seat until May 1919 and accomplished little in his single term. He lost his re-election bid to Frederic M. Sackett in the 1924 Republican landslide and never again held elected office. He died in Washington, D.C., on August 12, 1958.

Early life

Augustus Owsley Stanley was born in Shelbyville, Kentucky, on May 21, 1867; he was the eldest of seven children of William and Amanda (Owsley) Stanley.[1] His father was a minister of the Disciples of Christ and served as a judge advocate on the staff of Joseph E. Johnston in the Confederate Army.[2] His mother was the niece of former Kentucky governor William Owsley.[3] He attended Gordon Academy in Nicholasville, Kentucky, and the Kentucky Agricultural and Mechanical College (later the University of Kentucky) before graduating with an A.B. from Centre College in 1889.[4] At both Centre and Kentucky A&M, he competed at the State Oratorical Contest, becoming the only such competitor to represent two different institutions.[2]

For a year after graduation, Stanley served as chair of belles-lettres at Christian College in Hustonville, Kentucky.[2] The following year, he was principal of Marion Academy in Bradfordsville, then spent two years in the same position at Mackville Academy in Mackville.[2][5] While he held these positions, he studied law under Gilbert Cassiday.[6] He was admitted to the bar in 1894, and opened his practice in Flemingsburg, Kentucky.[5]