This Day in History – March 3rd, 1900

William_Goebel_circa_1889William Justus Goebel was an American politician who served as the 34th Governor of Kentucky for four days in 1900 after having been mortally wounded by an assassin the day before he was sworn in; he finally died on March 3rd, 1900. Goebel remains the only state governor in the United States to be assassinated while in office.

A skilled politician, Goebel was well able to broker deals with fellow lawmakers, and equally able and willing to break the deals if a better deal came along. His tendency to use the state’s political machinery to advance his personal agenda earned him the nicknames “Boss Bill”, “the Kenton King”, “Kenton Czar”, “King William I”, and “William the Conqueror”.

Goebel’s abrasive personality made him many political enemies, but his championing of populist causes, like railroad regulation, also won him many friends. This conflict of opinions came to a head in the Kentucky gubernatorial election of 1899. Goebel, a Democrat, divided his party with self-serving political tactics at a time when Kentucky Republicans were finally gaining strength, having elected the party’s first governor four years previously. These dynamics led to a close contest between Goebel and William S. Taylor. In the politically chaotic climate that resulted, Goebel was assassinated. Everyone charged in connection with the murder was either acquitted or pardoned, and the identity of his assassin remains uncertain.

Flourish 3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar