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Kansas Historical Quarterly - The Disaffection of Mary Elizabeth Lease

Intolerant Populist? The Disaffection of Mary Elizabeth Lease

by O. Gene Clanton

Summer, 1968 (Vol. 24, No. 2), pages 392 to 444
Transcription by Larry Wilgers; HTML composition by Name withheld upon request;
digitized with permission of the Kansas State Historical Society.
NOTE: The numbers in brackets refer to endnotes for this text.

EARLY in 1891 Mary Elizabeth Lease, a quite remarkable lady from Kansas, was the recipient of a personal tour of the nation's capitol. Her guide, Charlotte Smith, was a fellow woman activist, who was president of the Women's Industrial League of America. Less than a year earlier Mrs. Lease was a nonentity; her name had since become a household word throughout her home state, and she was pleased to learn as she and her guide made their way about the corridors of the house and senate that she was not unknown beyond the borders of Kansas. She had in fact risen to prominence on the wave of discontent that gave birth to the People's Party in Kansas the previous year.

Her guide, apparently a familiar face on capitol hill, made a special effort to introduce Mrs. Lease to senators and representatives with whom she was acquainted. In the course of their visit, John J. Ingalls "crossed" their "path on his was to his committee room." It was soon to be ex-Senator Ingalls at that point, and he was undoubtedly busily engaged in closing out affairs accumulated over the course of an 18-year tenure as the Republican senator of Kansas. His career had been terminated by the same developments that had lifted Mary Elizabeth Lease to prominence. On seeing the senator, Charlotte Smith related that she left Mrs. Lease "quite abruptly" to engage his attention. Overtaking him, she reported the following conversation, with pertinent interjections:

Senator, there is a lady, one of your constituents, at the capitol; would you like to meet her?" Mr. Ingalls smilingly consented, but I thought it would perhaps be better to let him know who it was and I said: "I presume you have heard of Mrs. Mary E. Lease?" At the mention of that name Mr. Ingalls thrust his hand into his trousers' pockets and replied emphatically: "I do not care to meet that woman; only Indians and women will scalp a man after he is dead." [1]

This anecdote reveals, as well as anything can, the special place that the Populist lady-warrior from Wichita had come to hold in the minds of her opponents. Unquestionably, Mrs. Lease had played a mighty role in that first whiligig campaign of 1890 which saw a segment of the Kansas populace rally to the banner of the People's party in crusade-like fashion dedicated to the destruction of both old parties. And her name is closely and justly associated with the victories the new party won, inside and outside Kansas between 1890 and 1892. The advice she allegedly gave to Kansas farmers to "raise less corn and more hell," legendary in the period of Populist influence, has come down to the present time undiminished, and is remembered by even the most casual student of American history. [2] What is less often remembered or understood is that, for a party that was afflicted with numerous problems, Mary Elizabeth Lease became one of Kansas Populism's more formidable problems.

The great notoriety of Mrs. Lease, an asset to the party in its organizational stage, not only contributed to her own undoing, but assisted in undermining the influence of a vital segment of the Populist leadership in Kansas -- that element of the leadership which might be characterized as hard-headed, practical, conscious of political realities, exponents of politics as the "art of the possible," and inclined to accord a higher place to economic reforms than to moral issues. These were badly needed traits when one recalls that the Populist party in Kansas at no point constituted a majority of the electorate. [3]

The future stem-winding, prophetess of Kansas Populism was born in Pennsylvania in 1853, rather than Ireland which she occasionally claimed in the Populist era, under the name of Mary Elizabeth Clyens. She received and academy education in New York and move to Kansas in 1873. Settling in Neosho county, she became a teacher in the parochial school at Osage Mission. It was there she met and married a druggist named Charley Lease. Shortly after their marriage they moved to a farm in Kingman county. After a brief and unsuccessful effort at farming, they moved to Denison, Tex., and then back to Kansas again. In the meantime 10 years had intervened. During this period Mrs. Lease bore four children, managed the household, and in her spare time studied law. Her study of law was done entirely at home; at time, so it was said, this required "pinning sheets of notes above her wash tub to study while she scrubbed the washings" she "took in" at 50 cents a day. However, it was done, she was admitted to the bar in 1885 and became one of a small number of Kansas women lawyers. [4]

Between 1885 and 1887 she began to build a reputation as a lecturer on various subjects. She gave several lecture in behalf of the Irish National League and championed woman's suffrage and temperance. Until 1888 she was a Republican. In that year, however, she left the party and ran, unsuccessfully, as a candidate for local office on the ticket of the Union Labor party.

Although defeated in her bid for office, Mrs. Lease gained considerable experience from the 1888 contest, and from there she moved quite logically and wholeheartedly into the reform agitation that led to the creation of the Populist party. Her natural talents then catapulted her to a prominent position among the orators of the time [5]

Mrs. Lease obviously had a truly remarkable voice, for it was widely noted. Annie Diggs, a rival of Mrs. Lease for the affection of Kansas Populists, considered it her greatest "distinguishing gift." William Allen White stated that he had "never heard a lovelier voice than Mrs. Lease's." He described it as "a golden voice -- deep, rich contralto, a singing voice that had hypnotic qualities." Concerning her general appearance and persuasive powers, White wrote that

She put into her oratory something which the printed copies . . . did not reveal. They were dull enough often, but she could recite the multiplication table and set a crowd hooting and hurrahing at her will. She stood nearly six feet tall, with no figure, a thick torso, and long legs. To me, she often looked like a kangaroo pyramided up from the hips to a comparatively small head . . . She wore her hair in a psyche knot, always neatly combed and topped by the most ungodly hats I ever saw a woman wear. She had no sex appeal -- none! [6]
Mary Elizabeth Lease (1853-1933) Annie L. Diggs (1853-1916)
Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Lease
(1853-1933)
Mrs. Annie L. Diggs
(1853-1916)

Born in Pennsylvania, Mrs. Lease came to Kansas in 1873. Her Populist oratory had much to do with the defeat of Sen. John J. Ingalls in 1890. When her attacks continued Ingalls ruefully remarked, "only Indians and women will scalp a man after he is dead."

She was a close Populist friend of Mrs. Lease until the latter turned "enemy" to the party. Mrs. Diggs then said: "Mrs. Lease is ... a traitor to the cause of equal suffrage, and I regard her political methods as dishonest and do not think she can be trusted."

Mary Elizabeth Lease, Author and Lecturer

Following her vibrant Populist days, Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Lease continued on the lecture platform. A mailing piece, of which the above is a copy of the first page, gave as her repertoire the titles of 11 lectures, including a "Fourth of July Oration." "Her tall form," said the Boston Globe, "gave her a chance to send her powerful voice to the farthest rim of the crowd. She spoke with a majestic force which enthralled the crowd."

Mrs. Lease, nevertheless, had that special something that made her a magnetic orator. Early in 1891 she was interviewed by a reporter who was indeed quite fair in his treatment of that interview. In summing up, he stated that she impressed him ...

As one of those radical, strong, warm natures which feels and has impulses rather than thoughts. She can see a wrong and feel an injury quickly, but would be slow and far from sure in her remedies. Her mind is untrained, and while displaying plenty of a certain power, is illogical, lacks sequence and scatters like a 10-guage gun. [7]

It would seem that a good deal of Mrs. Lease's success was due to her ability to feel and express what was agitating many people at the time. She was in this sense more a barometer of discontent than an originator and leader of reform activity. Years later Mrs. Lease herself noted this fact but gave it a mystical twist. A reporter asked her how she became an orator, and she replied:

Brother, I don't say that I ever did. I was untrained in the arts of the public debater, unschooled in the methods of the political exhorter. If I succeeded in swaying my audiences I did not deserve the credit. That belongs to a hidden power that worked within me. I was merely a voice, an instrument in the hands of a Great Force. [8]

Reform pursued in this fashion may perhaps have been effective as long as the impulse was strong and its meaning clear, but it could be disastrous in other circumstances.

Mrs. Lease became a problem for the Populist organization in Kansas when it began to flirt with the idea of cooperating with the Democratic party for victory in the state. In the 1890 contest there had been no attempt a fusion on the state ticket. With three parties in the field, the Republicans carried all state administrative positions save one, although the Populists did gain control of the Kansas house, elected five of eight congressmen, and were triumphant in the majority of the local contests as a result of fusion or the absence of Democratic candidates. [9] As the 1892 contest neared, fusion or coalition on the state ticket became an increasingly obvious necessity for Populist success. Because 1892 was a Presidential election year, the Democratic organization, eager to remove the Kansas electoral votes from the Republican column, was inclined to support Populist candidates. This situation contributed to the nomination and victory of a Populist slate, headed by Lorenzo D. Lewelling of Wichita, which had the endorsement of the Democratic party.

Lewelling was given the nomination in 1892 as a result of a captivating keynote address he delivered at the Wichita convention as chairman of the Sedgwick county Populist organization. Winning the nomination for governor, as it turned out, was to be just about the only cheering aspect of the job that Lewelling assumed in January, 1893.

Populist administration of the state began with the legislative machinery deadlocked by a bitter factious dispute for control of the house of representatives. Governor Lewelling and Populist leaders finally yielded to Republican organization of the house but the damage had already been done. Beginning with the great expectations for the enaction of much reform legislation, the so-called "Legislative War" consumed most of the time and the administration accomplished practically nothing during the session. The Populist claim to the right to organize the house was such, moreover, that their Republican opponents were able to use the charge of anarchism in the dispute with a degree of credence not possible earlier. [10]

After the 1893 session the worst that could possibly be said about the Lewelling administration was not too bad to print nor too difficult to believe as far as the Republican press was concerned. When Lewelling attempted to steer a middle course on the prohibition enforcement question he immediately came under attack. Charges of corruption were given wide circulation, although a legislative committee unanimously reported that the charges were not sustained by the evidence. [11]

The Republican organization was fully conscious of the threat that reposed in a harmonious coalition between Democrats and Populists, and through its press it naturally sought to exploit those issues that would split the coalition: the issues of prohibition and woman's suffrage were most fruitful, since on these two issues the Democrats were generally opposed and the Populists were seriously divided.

Governor Lewelling and State Chairman John W. Breidenthal were aware that Democratic support was crucial if the Populist party were to maintain itself in power. The administration and the Populist organization under Breidenthal's leadership thus sought to steer clear of the prohibition and woman's suffrage issues, while at the same time they made an effort to strengthen the coalition by rewarding their Democratic supporters in the distribution of political offices.

This could not be done without increasing their vulnerability to attack from the Republican party, nor could it be done without creating dissention within the Populist party. A number of Populist leaders honestly believed that the reform cause would flounder on the rock of fusion. [12] Most of those who held that opinion, however, were not willing to destroy the Populist party to drive the Democrats out; but some were.

Through 1893 the extreme antifusion view was aired in Topeka through the columns of two papers, one edited by Cyrus Corning and the other by A. J. R. Smith. Both men claimed to be "true Populists," but neither had ever been key figures within the party; in fact, there was reason to believe, as many argued at the time, that both were working for the Republican party. One thing was certain, Corning's New Era and Smith's Populist could hardly have been improved upon from the Republican standpoint even if they had been written by the Republican Central Committee. Both papers reserved their whole attack for Governor Lewelling. [13]

The Corning-Smith assault on the Lewelling administration was an annoyance but not a serious threat. The influence of both papers was practically nil outside Topeka, and the checkered reputation of both editors was generally recognized. They attack would have probably remained no more than an annoyance had it not had a sequel of more dramatic proportions.

On November 10, 1893, Mrs. Lease, after having settled down during the first few months of the Lewelling administration, broke a long silence with an interview reported in the Topeka Daily Capital. The Populist party had just suffered some reverses in the 1893 local elections, and the reporter asked Mrs. Lease how she accounted for the losses. In no uncertain terms she attributed them to the administration. Said Mrs. Lease, "the present administration is enough to damn any party. If they are kept in office it means political death." She described Lewelling as a "weak man" without "backbone," and stated that she had voted against him in 1892. The defeat, as she saw it, was "a loud and effective protest against corrupt men and their measures and fusion with the democrats." [14]

Several days after the Topeka interview Mrs. Lease was interviewed again, this time at home by the Wichita Beacon. She promptly denied everything she reportedly had said in the Topeka interview. She said that she had "never spoken unkindly of Governor Lewelling." That she considered him a "brave, noble man," who was doing a fine job under difficult circumstances. He was, moreover, her first choice for governor in 1894. [15]

It would appear that the first interview reflected her true feelings at the moment, and that the second was an attempt to smooth over the whole affair. A break between Mrs. Lease and the administration had been building for some time. Lewelling had appointed her to the state board of charities. In her position as chairman of that board she was in a position to determine patronage appointments that came under its jurisdiction. Governor Lewelling on several occasions attempted to obtain positions for favored individuals, some of whom were Democrats. Mrs. Lease resented Lewelling's efforts to dictate the allocation of jobs, and she especially detested the idea of appointing Democrats. [16]

Mrs. Lease was in fact psychologically incapable of cooperating with Democrats. In her case this phobia was largely an inheritance from the Civil War. Her brother died fighting for the union at Fredricksburg, an adopted brother died at Lookout Mountain, and her father died under ghastly circumstances at Andersonville prison. [17] She insisted that her "whole life" had "been a struggle with poverty because of that cruel war," and subconsciously, at least, she was unable to forgive the Democratic party its share in the responsibility for bringing it about. [18]

On December 28, 1893, the whole thing came to a head when Governor Lewelling notified Mrs. Lease she had been removed from the board of charities. She refused to consider the removal final and immediately countered with a bitter tirade against the administration. On January 2, 1894, the Kansas City Star published Mrs. Lease's version of the dispute. She argued that Lewelling wanted to get rid of her not because she had "interfered with his office trading" but because she intended to fight for the inclusion of a woman's suffrage plank at the upcoming state convention. Governor Lewelling, she said, knows that with that plank in the platform "every hope of fusion is gone." She added: "Let me say now that the woman's suffrage plank will go in and that there will be three tickets in the field. As to fusion the people won't stand it." [19] When asked if she would support Lewelling if he was renominated, she answered that he would not be renominated, but if he were she could not support him and be true to her conscience. [20]

Shortly after this it became common knowledge that Mrs. Lease was working closely with the Corning crowd. She admitted contributing money to support the New Era. It was also reported that she met with George R. Peck and W. H. Rossington, attorneys for the Santa Fe railroad, on January 9, 1894, in St. Louis, and there was speculation that the Republican party was tied in somehow. Curiously, about two months later it was revealed that she was one of the heirs to a five thousand dollar estate from a relative in Ireland. [21]

On January 26, 1894, the Pleasanton Herald published a letter from Mrs. Lease which topped everything she had written to that point. She wrote:

It is necessary to "kill me politically" ere they can succeed, and to destroy me they say I am working for Republican pay. . . . Not only that, but they paid $500 to obtain affidavits that General J. B. Weaver and I slept together at many of the leading hotels during the campaign. . . . The governor said to two of the state officers: "If Mrs. Lease makes any fight on me I will spring those affidavits on her!" [22]

Governor Lewelling refused to become involved in the newspaper debate with Mrs. Lease. But the press did manage to get a reaction from Secretary of State Russell S. Osborn to the Pleasanton letter. Asked what he thought of her latest charges, Osborn replied:

I am no longer surprised at anything she says. The woman is crazy. Her reference to the supposed story about J. B. Weaver and herself is new to me and new to everybody in the state house. I have nothing to say about it. If she wants to advertise her own shame that's her business, not ours. The story I have heard about Mrs. Lease does not drag in the name of Weaver. [23]

By the end of January Mrs. Lease had made three major accusations: she claimed the administration was in partnership with Kansas City gamblers; that bribes had been taken from three railroad companies; and that they had paid for false affidavits purporting to prove improper relations between her and General Weaver. She offered no proof to substantiate these charges. At one point she indicated in a speech that the time was not yet right for revealing the evidence; apparently that was as far as she ever got. [24]

The administration claim that Mrs. Lease was working hand-in-glove with the Republican party would not seem worthy of consideration were it not for the existence of a long overlooked manuscript in the collections of the Kansas State Historical Society. The manuscript in question was a handwritten biography of Mrs. Lease by James Arnold with a note attached by the author to a Mr. McCray. The biography was not dated, but internal evidence indicates that it was written in January, 1894. James Arnold was unquestionably Mary Elizabeth Lease. [25] McCray, to whom the "biography" was sent, was by all indications David Owen McCray. McCray was prominent in the Republican organization. From 1887 to 1889 he was managing editor of the Topeka Daily Capital; from 1889 to 1893 he was executive clerk to Gov. Lyman Humphrey; and, in the period in question, he was working in Topeka as representative of various Eastern newspapers as Kansas correspondent. [26]

Mrs. Lease obviously wrote this autobiographical sketch for McCray's assistance in preparing a formal biographical treatment of her life. In her note to McCray she instructed that he be sure to give her "sole credit" for the defeat of Senator Ingalls. She advised that he "say nothing" about her "political views now." From the standpoint of implication, the most damaging part of the note read as follows:

get the Capital to slobber over Breidenthal, [sic] and McLallin they are going to use against me that the Republican papers are friendly to me and have said nice things about me. . . . I have obtained the promise of the Wyandotte reps [representatives or republicans?]. . . . Get the Capital to make fun of my radical views and abuse me a little. [27]

Mrs. Lease's autobiographical sketch was quite revealing as to her state of mind at that point. Writing under the pseudonym James Arnold she described herself as "thoroughly genial and unemotional. . . ." Mrs. Lease, she wrote, was a woman who "moves in close touch with the people. The lower strata of laborers rough-handed begrimy fellows lover her, and she bears among her loyal subjects the title of 'Queen Mary.'" She then wrote that "success and popularity make no difference in her demeanor and warm praise and cutting sarcasm are alike unheeded." At another point she described herself as "original in thought, prompt and decisive in action, forcible and eloquent with tongue or pen," a woman who "possesses in a marked degree the traits of leadership." Concerning her work in the party, she wrote that it was due to Mrs. Lease's "efforts more than to any other factor," that "the People's Party owes its inception and upbuilding." Then with obvious reference to her dispute with the Lewelling administration, she wrote that Mrs. Lease

has made it possible for men who would never have been heard of to boil up and scramble for office. And in their greedy haste they would ever mete out to her the fate of her proto type Joan of Arc, but calm and dignified Mrs. Lease forges ahead, winning triumphs and cheering success in all she undertakes. [28]

In February, 1894, the state supreme court ruled that Mrs. Lease could not be removed from the board of charities without cause and without notice. It then became a question of preferring charges against her, and the administration wisely elected to drop the whole matter. The controversy had ended Mrs. Lease's effective association with the Populist party but irreparable damage had been done in the process. Just how great that damage was would be difficult to determine; it undoubtedly contributed to the 1894 Populist defeat. [29]

Antifusion sentiment controlled the 1894 Populist convention. Governor Lewelling was renominated and the party endorse the woman's suffrage amendment that was presented to Kansas voters on the 1894 ballot. The Republican party under the shrewd management of Cyrus Leland sidestepped the issue and three parties took the field in the campaign that autumn. [30] Woman's suffrage, which had become a partisan issue, went down to defeat with the Populist ticket.

     A strong commitment to woman's suffrage and prohibition, two causes she felt were threatened by fusion with Democrats, could explain Mrs. Lease's actions in the controversy were it not for the fact that she abandoned the cause of equal suffrage during the summer of 1894, and by 1896 she renounced prohibition. [31] Her actions were unbelievably erratic. Early in the campaign of 1894 she even attempted to reinstate herself in the good graces of the Populist organization. In doing so she put herself in a hopelessly contradictory position. She announced that she was going to enter the campaign to defend Governor Lewelling. She said that "the governor is innocent of every charge brought against him be the character assassins who are hounding him. I cannot stand silently by and see this campaign of slander proceed against one whom I know to be innocent." [32]

     The key to understanding the actions of this famous lady would appear to revolve largely around three facets of her personality: an exaggerated sense of her own importance, which made her a formidable spokesman but allowed her to be used by the opposition; an intense hatred for Democrats, which make fusion unthinkable; and a shallow understanding of the problems of her time which gave her little to hold to when the going became rough.

     After 1894 Mrs. Lease continued her erratic ways and gradually drifted out of the picture. In 1895 she published a work modestly entitled The Problem of Civilization Solved, which was filled with nativistic and racist nonsense, and in which she called for a Napoleon to liberate the industrial world. [33] Not long after her book was published she moved from Kansas to New York. In 1900 she was "sent" from there to Nebraska by Mark Hanna in behalf of the Republican party to fight William Jennings Bryan and her old Democratic enemies. Her career had indeed gone through a complete cycle. [34]

     In 1901 Mrs. Lease told the story of one of her encounters with a New York society woman, which was meant to be facetious, but contained far more truth than even Mary Elizabeth Lease was prepared to admit. After proper introduction to the noted Kansas spellbinder, the woman remarked: "Why, Mrs. Lease! You are really just like the rest of us, aren't you?" Mrs. Lease countered with: "Oh, I am merely following the advice to do in Rome as the Romans do. If you had met me in Kansas you would have found me wearing a blanket and living in a teepee." [35]

Notes

Prof. O. Gene Clanton earned his Ph. D. degree from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and will join the faculty of the department of history of Washington State University, Pullman, September 1.

This article is, in part, a selection from the author's forthcoming book, Kansas Populism: Ideas and Men, to be published by the University of Kansas, Lawrence, in 1969.

1. The Advocate, Topeka, April 15, 1891. Senator Ingalls' statement was probably occasioned by remarks Mrs. Lease had made about him that same day in Albaugh's opera house in the capital. It is possible that her remarks included her rather famous change that he "never smelled gunpowder in all his cowardly life. His war record is confined to court marshalling a chicken thief." She made this statement a few days later in a speech delivered in Kansas City, so there is reason to believe she had done so on the earlier occasion. -- See the Kansas City (Mo.) Star, clipping dated April 1 [?], 1891, "Kansas Biographical Scrapbook" (in Kansas State Historical Society library), L, v.3, p. 43.
2. Mrs. Lease later denied having originated the statement, but she said she let it stand because she thought "it was a right good bit of advice." -- See Topeka State Journal, May 25, 1896, and Kansas City (Mo.) Star, October 25, 1914.
3. The writer would like to emphasize that the word intolerant used in the title of this article applies merely to the subject of this study. Although the fame of Mary Elizabeth Lease -- in the Populist period and later -- overshadowed Kansas Populism, she was by no means typical of the Kansas Populist leadership. It might be argued that she was representative of the rank and file of Kansas Populism, but the same cannot be said of the leadership. The writer is presently preparing a study of that leadership, and the material demonstrates that the individuals who led the movement were relatively well-educated, conversant with the great problems of their time, and constructive in their approach to reform. Their commitment to reform was by no means superficial, and the word "irrational" has little meaning in interpreting their actions.
4. Harry Levinson, "Mary Elizabeth Lease: Prairie Radical," Kansas Magazine, Manhattan, 1948, pp. 18-24; James C. Malin, "Mary Elizabeth Clyens Lease," Dictionary of American Biography, v. 21 (Supplement I), pp. 488, 489; William G. Clugston, Rascals in Democracy (New York, 1940), pp. 91-95; Wichita Eagle, June 14, 1925.
5. Ibid.
6. The Autobiography of William Allen White (New York, 1946), pp. 218, 219. One's impression of Mrs. Lease was decidedly affected by political persuasion; White's account was no exception. Compare it with the following: "Mrs. Lease is a tall woman -- fully five feet ten inches and slender. Her face is strong, good, not pretty, and very feminine. There is no mark of masculinity about her. She is woman all over. Her hair is a dark brown and evenly parted in the center and smoothed down at the sides with neat care. Her nose, chin and cheek bones announce themselves strongly. However, they give no sense of harshness to her face." -- Clipping of Kansas City Star, dated April 1 ?., 1891, in "Kansas Biographical Scrapbook," L, v. 3, pp. 38-44.
7. Clipping of Kansas City Star, dated April 1 ?., 1891, in Kansas Biographical Scrapbook, L, v. 3, pp. 38-44.
8. Kansas City Star, October 25, 1914.
9. John N. Ives, formerly a Democrat, was nominated by the People's party for attorney general and elected with the endorsement of the Democratic party.
10. A sampling of newspaper headlines at the height of the dispute on February 16, 1893, are these: "ANARCHY," Kansas City Mail; "ANARCHISTIC," Wichita Daily Eagle; "THE JACOBINS," Marion Times; and the Kansas City Gazette asked the following question in its headline: "Is the Kansas Trouble the Incipiency of a National Anarchist Uprising?" Similar headlines and stories were broadcast by Republican papers throughout the state.
11. This committee was composed of two Populists, two Republicans, and one Democrat. -- The Advocate, May 17, 1893, and September 19, 1894.
12. Dr. Stephen McLallin, editor of the official Populist paper, was opposed to fusion, as were Annie Diggs, W. A. Peffer, John G. Otis, Frank Doster, and John Davis, all of whom were prominent leaders.
13. Corning's paper was first called The People and he moved it from Paola to Topeka in March, 1893. It became The New Era when he consolidated it with the paper of that name published by two sons formerly in Council Grove. First issue as The New Era began June 10, 1893. The paper continued until shortly after the Populist administration was defeated in 1894. A. J. R. Smith's The Populist began about the same time but was of shorter duration.
14. Topeka Daily Capital, November 11, 1893.
15. Wichita Beacon, November 14, 1893.
16. See letters of April 15, May 25, and December 28, 1893, from Governor Lewelling to M.E. Lease, "Governor's Letters," Kansas State Historical Society.
17. The Advocate, Topeka, July 27, 1892. The editor published a statement by Mrs. Lease and a letter from the New York adjutant general's office, Bureau of Records of the War of Rebellion, dated July 21, 1892, that confirmed the death of her father as she claimed.
18. Ibid. In 1904 Mrs. Lease remarked: "My father and brothers died on the field of battle defending the flag and the Union that the Democratic party, represented by Bryan and Stevenson, sought to destroy." -- Newspaper clipping dated September 27, 1904, in "Kansas Biographical Scrapbook," L, v. 3, pp. 130, 131. See, also, the Leavenworth Times, September 22, 1900.
19. Kansas City Star, January 2, 1894.
20. Ibid.
21. The Herald, Pleasanton, January 12 and 26, 1894; The Advocate, Topeka, January 3 and March 14, 1894; The New Era, Topeka, January 6, 1894.
22. The Herald, Pleasanton, January 26, 1894.
23. Kansas City Star, January 27, 1894.
24. The Advocate, Topeka, January 31, 1894.
25. In the appended note Mrs. Lease asked Mr. McCray to send her "Herald or tell me when to get it." This would indicate she desired a copy of The Herald which contained her letter attacking the administration. Since it was published in Pleasanton on January 26, 1894, this would indicate that this sketch was written immediately before or after that date. Mrs. Lease was clearly James Arnold. Internal evidence demonstrates this convincingly; in addition, the handwriting of Mrs. Lease from a letter to Judge H. Kelley contained in the Historical Society and on the manuscript biography are the same. -- Manuscript biography of M.E. Lease by James Arnold, manuscript division, Kansas State Historical Society.
26. Kansas Historical Collections, 1905-1906 (Topeka, 1906), v. 9, p. 414. Topeka Daily Capital, June 2, 1889.
27. Manuscript biography of M. E. Lease, Kansas State Historical Society. The McLallin mentioned in the quote was Dr. Stephen McLallin, editor of the Topeka Advocate, which was the official Populist paper in the state.
28. Ibid.
29. "Supreme Court Syllabi," Mary E. Lease v. J. W. Freeborn, The Advocate, Topeka, February 14, 1894.
30. See Walter T. K. Nugent's "How the Populists Lost in 1894," The Kansas Historical Quarterly, v. 31 (Autumn, 1965), pp. 245-255, for discussions of Leland's role in the campaign of 1894, and the problems that confronted the Lewelling administration in that campaign.
31. Topeka Daily Capital, September 15, 1894; Topeka State Journal, May 25, 1896; and newspaper clipping dated September 6, 1905, in "Kansas Biographical Scrapbook," L, v. 6, p. 197.
32. Topeka Daily Capital, September 14, 1894. Immediately following Mrs. Lease's announcement that she was entering the campaign to support Lewelling, a reporter asked Annie Diggs what she thought of the development and she replied: "Mrs. Lease is an enemy of the Populist party and a traitor to the cause of equal suffrage, and I regard her political methods as dishonest and do not think she can be trusted." Mrs. Lease, said Mrs. Diggs, was in "search of cheap notoriety" and would "do most anything to obtain it. . . ." Asked if she thought Mrs. Lease was working for Republican pay, Mrs. Diggs stated that she did not think her services were worth hiring. Mrs. Diggs also emphasized that she believed Mrs. Lease was "perfectly sane." As she saw it, there was "too much method in her madness for a crazy woman." -- Ibid., September 15, 1894.
33. Mary E. Lease, The Problem of Civilization Solved (Chicago, 1895), see introduction and pp. 17, 35, 36, and 39.
34. Leavenworth Times, September 22, 1900; newspaper clipping dated September 27, 1904 in "Kansas Biographical Scrapbook," L, v. 1, pp. 130, 131.
35. Kansas City (Mo.) Journal, May 15, 1901.