Ross, Edmund G. (Edmund Gibson), 1826-1907

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1826-12-07
Death 1907-05-08
Gender:
Male

Biographical notes:

U.S. senator from Kansas, governor of the territory of New Mexico, lawyer, newspaperman, and railroad executive.

From the description of Edmund G. Ross papers, 1862-1902. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70983137

U.S. Senator, New Mexico Territorial Governor, author, journalist and printer. Born, Ashland, Ohio, lived in Kansas during the Civil War and later in New Mexico. Died Albuquerque, N.M.

From the description of Papers, 1865-1907. (University of New Mexico-Main Campus). WorldCat record id: 30985988

U.S. senator from Kansas, 1866-71 (Republican), best remembered for his deciding vote against the removal of President Andrew Johnson from office; writer; New Mexico territorial governor, 1885-89. Of Topeka, Kan.; Albuquerque, Santa Fe, N.M.

From the description of Records of the territorial governors : Edmund G. Ross, 1885-1889. (Kansas State Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 731227169

From the description of Papers ; Hugh Cameron letters (1907), 1856-1933. (Kansas State Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 52839891

Edmund Gibson Ross, Governor of the Territory of New Mexico from 1885 to 1889 is also known for his role as a soldier in the Civil War and as a United States Senator from Kansas (1865-1871). A journalist and printer by trade, he was born in Ashland, Ohio on December 7, 1826. He was introduced to the printing business at the age of ten, and he apprenticed in several states before settling in Wisconsin where he edited the Milwaukee Sentinel.

As a young man, Ross assumed an active role in politics. Because of his strong anti-slavery convictions, he joined the Republican party and he spoke out often against slavery. In 1856, after having led a party of "free staters" to the territory of Kansas, Ross settled in the Topeka region where he and his brother organized and published the Kansas Tribune. From 1859 to 1861, Ross was a member of the convention (Wyandotte) that framed the constitution under which Kansas was admitted to the Union.

When the Civil War broke out, Ross entered the Union army and he organized a company of volunteers known as the "E" 11th Kansas Infantry. Promoted to the rank of major in 1864, he led his regiment in engagements that resulted in the retreat of General Sterling Price and the Confederate army from Missouri.

In 1865, upon the suicide of the U.S. Senator from Kansas, James H. Lane, Ross was appointed by Governor Crawford to fill the vacancy. In 1867 he was elected to the office for the term expiring in March, 1871. During this term, in 1868, the impeachment of Andrew Johnson occurred. Although directed by his Kansas constituents to vote with the "radical" Republicans, Ross, finding no grounds for Johnson's impeachment, cast his momentous vote against it. For this action, he was ostracized socially, ruined financially, and driven from public life. Denounced as a traitor to his party, he returned to the Democratic party at the close of his term in the Senate.

Ross returned briefly to the newspaper trade in Coffeyville, Kansas. He also pursued an interest, as a member of the board of directors, in the development and promotion of the railroad system that was to become the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe. By 1880, he had decided to follow the railroad to New Mexico, hoping to create a new life for his family and to make his fortune in the new frontier.

With the advent of the railroad, Albuquerque had become an important commercial center; in 1882 Ross joined two former Kansas friends, Elias S. Stover and W.S. Burke, who had already established themselves in Albuquerque. Burke, editor of the Albuquerque Morning Journal, invited Ross to join the newspaper staff, while Ross and Stover formed a business alliance that capitalized on railroad and mining ventures. The three men were concerned not only with the territory's economic progress, but also with the advancement of education.

The political struggle, beginning as early as 1882, between the Santa Fe Ring and leaders from the southern portions of the territory, gave newspaperman Ross the opportunity to form new alliances and thus to emerge from political oblivion. In 1884, with the Democratic national victory and Grover Cleveland's election as President, Ross was commissioned governor of the New Mexico Territory. His term was, however, filled with turmoil. Bitter opposition in the Senate to Ross's appointment as governor caused a year's delay in his confirmation, and his work as governor (1885-1889) was hampered by the continual hostility of the Republican legislature.

Nevertheless, during his term of office, Governor Ross's advocacy of railroads, mining, and agriculture laid the foundations for New Mexico's economic growth. Solidly in support of public education, he was also among those who introduced bills to Congress advocating a public school system in the territories. Although the state legislature had not yet provided for public schools, on February 28, 1889, Ross, in his final days as Governor, signed into law an enactment of vital importance to the growth of the territory, the Enabling Act creating the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, the School of Mines at Socorro, and the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts at Las Cruces.

After the expiration of his term of office as governor of New Mexico, Ross worked briefly as a printer for the Santa Fe New Mexican, edited the Deming Headlight until 1893, and served as secretary of the state's Bureau of Immigration from 1894 to 1896. After making his home in Albuquerque with his son, he published several books-- The Pilgrim and the Cavalier in Kansas (1895), History of the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson (1896), and A Reminiscence of the Kansas Conflict (1898).

On May 9, 1907, the Hon. Edmund G. Ross died. His headstone in the family plot in Albuquerque's Fairview Cemetary is inscribed simply: "Father, Edmund G. Ross, 1826-1907."

Public recognition of Ross's heroic act as a public servant was initiated just two months before his death, when Brig. Gen. Hugh Cameron, an old friend from Kansas known as "The Hermit," traveled to Albuquerque to bring Ross the official apologies of the State of Kansas. In 1949, Ross's significant role as "'the man who saved a President,' and who...may well have preserved for ourselves and posterity constitutional government in the United States...." was finally described in a brief biography by Edward Bumgardner; several years later, John F. Kennedy wrote of Ross and the Johnson impeachment in his book Profiles in Courage. In recognition of Ross's advancement of public education, the Albuquerque Public School System named the Edmund G. Ross Elementary School in his honor.

Ross and his wife of fifty years, Fannie M. Lathrop (d. 1899), had four sons and three daughters. Of these, daughter Eddie married the eminent Albuquerque photographer William H. Cobb and son Edmund received the first engineering degree from the University of New Mexico in 1908.

From the guide to the Edmund G. Ross Papers, 1865-1907, (University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research.)

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Subjects:

  • Patronage, Political
  • American newspapers
  • Pardon
  • Educational law and legislation
  • Cane Hill, Battle of, Cane Hill, Ark., 1862
  • Extradition
  • American letters--History--20th century
  • Agriculture
  • Pueblo Indians--Taxation
  • Public lands
  • Prairie Grove, Battle of, Ark., 1862
  • Politicians' spouses
  • Irrigation
  • American letters--History--19th century
  • Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)
  • Administrative agencies

Occupations:

  • Ranching--New Mexico--Rio Arriba County
  • Legislators--Kansas
  • Executives
  • Lawyers
  • Newspapermen
  • Senators, U.S. Congress--Kansas
  • Legislators--United States
  • Printer (print. & pub.)
  • Soldiers
  • Governors--New Mexico
  • Newspaper publishing--United States

Places:

  • New Mexico--Rio Arriba County (as recorded)
  • New Mexico (as recorded)
  • Rio Arriba County (N.M.) (as recorded)
  • Cabin Creek (Okla.) (as recorded)
  • Kansas (as recorded)
  • Kansas (as recorded)
  • New Mexico (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Kansas (as recorded)
  • New Mexico (as recorded)
  • Kansas (as recorded)
  • Lawrence (Kan.) (as recorded)
  • Fort Scott (Kan.) (as recorded)
  • New Mexico (as recorded)
  • Kansas (as recorded)
  • New Mexico (as recorded)