Edmund Needham Morrill (1895-1897)

morrill  edmund


Born: 12 February 1834, Westbrook, Maine
Died: 14 March 1909, San Antonio, Texas

Inaugural Address, 1895
Biennial Message, 1895

A one-term Republican governor of Kansas the mid-1890s, Edmund N. Morrill was born in Westbrook, Cumberland County, Maine, on February 12, 1834, and attended school in his hometown, graduating from Westbrook Seminary in 1855. Morrill then worked as superintendent of the Westbrook schools in 1856 and 1857 before moving to Kansas Territory in 1857. He settled in Brown County, where he erected a sawmill, served as a free-state member of the territorial legislature in 1857 and 1858, and enlisted on October 5, 1861, as a private in Company C, Seventh Regiment, Kansas Volunteer Cavalry-the "notorious" Charles R. Jennison and Daniel R. Anthony commanding. Morrill almost immediately was promoted to sergeant (on October 10, 1861), and within a year (on August 27, 1862) to captain and commissary of subsistence.

After mustering out of the service a major in October 1865, Morrill served as clerk of the district court of Brown County (1866-1870) and county clerk (1866-1873), and in 1871 he founded the county's first bank, serving as its president from 1887 until his death. For seven years, Morrill was also president of the First National Bank of Leavenworth; he also served in the state senate from 1872-1874 and 1876-1880 (president pro tempore in 1877) and founded the Morrill Free Public Library at Hiawatha in 1882. Elected as to the Forty-eighth Congress in 1882, Congressman Morrill was reelected three times (served, March 4, 1883-March 3, 1891). He was chairman, Committee on Invalid Pensions during his last term (Fifty-first Congress, 1889-1891) but was not a candidate for renomination in 1890. Instead, Morrill returned to banking and by the early 1890s was considered one of Kansas's wealthiest citizens.

Morrill successfully challenged the state's first Populist governor, Lorenzo D. Lewelling, in the 1892 gubernatorial election (served, 1895-1897), but lost in 1894 to Kansas's second successful Populist candidate, John W. Leedy. Morrill subsequently returned to his Hiawatha bank and other business pursuits and died in San Antonio, Texas, on March 14, 1909; he was buried in Hiawatha's Mount Hope Cemetery.

Governor biographies courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society.