History of Kentucky Governors

Kentucky Governors and Elections

Gov. Edwin P. Morrow--

EDWIN PORCH MORROW

Born--1877- Died 1935

1919-1923

            Kentucky’s only governor from Pulaski County was Edwin Morrow.  Morrow was one of the twin sons of Thomas Z. and Catherine Virginia Morrow.  Thomas Z. Morrow was the 1883 Republican nominee for Kentucky Governor (he was defeated by Democrat J. Proctor Knott) and the nephew of Kentucky’s first Republican Governor William O. Bradley.  Catherine Morrow’s brother was Governor William Bradley.  Morrow and a twin brother were the youngest children of Thomas and Catherine.

Prior to entering politics, Morrow had served as an army private during the Spanish American War in 1898.  He never saw action due to catching typhoid fever.  He was discharged as a lieutenant in 1899. He graduated with a law degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1902.  Prior to entering the Army, Morrow had attended Cumberland College in Williamsburg

As a lawyer he had a reputation as a successful criminal defense attorney in Lexington and later Somerset.  He established his reputation with the trial of William Moseby, a black man accused of murder in Lexington.  Moseby's first trial had ended in a hung jury but because the evidence against him included a confession which was recanted.  The court unable to find an attorney for Moseby in his second trial, the judge requested that Morrow take Moseby’s case.  Morrow proved that his client's testimony had been coerced.  Law enforcement told Moseby that a lynch mob waited outside the jail for him, but no such mob had ever existed. Morrow further showed that other testimony against his client was false.  Moseby was acquitted with Morrow’s assistance on September 21, 1902.

Morrow married Katherine Hale Waddle on June 18, 1903 in Somerset. The couple had two children, Edwina Haskell in July 1904 and Charles Robert in November 1908.

            In 1910, President Taft appointed Morrow US Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.  Morrow served in that position until 1913, when Woodrow Wilson assumed the Presidency.

            In 1912, Edwin Morrow was nominated by the Republicans in the General Assembly as that party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate.  However, he was defeated by Democrat Ollie James in the last election for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky decided by the General Assembly.

            In 1915, Morrow was nominated for Governor of Kentucky by the Republican Party.  Edwin Morrow and A.O. Stanley were great friends and often campaigned together.  Morrow like Democrat AO Stanley was an entertaining stump speaker.  Morrow and Stanley would often go to dinner together after calling each other horrible names on the stump.  After his defeat in 1915 by less than 500 votes, Edwin Morrow was again nominated by the Republican Party for Governor.

            In 1919, Morrow faced incumbent Governor James Dixon Black who was became governor upon Governor A.O. Stanley’s election to the U.S. Senate.  Black who was part of a divided Democratic Party and an administration which had some irregularities with hiring and contracts.

            Less than a month after taking office, on January 6, 1920, Governor Morrow signed the bill ratifying the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

            Morrow called for the creation of a “non-partisan” judiciary, creation of a Department of Labor and reform of property taxes.  He was unsuccessful in making the judiciary but prevailed in creating a Department of Labor and reformed

            With a Republican General Assembly, Morrow was able to improve the selection of school textbooks, centralization of highway work, and creation of the Board of Charities and Corrections.  With the assistance of a Republican controlled House of Representatives, Morrow was able to pass a tax on race tracks to support a minimum salary for public school teachers in Kentucky.

            Morrow was known as a” law and order” governor.  He enforced the law against the carrying concealed weapons in an effort to stem the number of homicides in the state.  He removed the Jailer of Woodford County from office due to his failure to protect a black man from a lynching.  He called out the National Guard to Lexington to prevent a black man on trial for murder from being lynched.  In 1922, Morrow sent the National Guard to Newport to quell disturbances from a mill strike.

            During the 1922 session of the General Assembly, colleges were created at Morehead and Murray at Morrow’s urging.

            After leaving office in 1923, Morrow served on the US Railroad Labor Board and its successor the US Board of Mediation.  He was also active in various civil rights organizations. 

            In 1934, Edwin Morrow sought the Republican nomination for Kentucky’s 9th District Congressional seat.  He was defeated by former U.S Senator John M. Robsion of Barbourville who was the eventual winner.

            As Governor Morrow was planning to resume practicing law in Lexington, he died of a sudden heart attack on June 15, 1935 while visiting a cousin in Frankfort.

Gov. Morrow signs the bill passing the 19th Amendment in KY

in January 1920.

 Gov. Edwin Porch Morrow

Thomas Z. Morrow--father of Gov. Edwin Morrow.

A black and white line drawing of a man in his thirties