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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
  • Editor's Notes: Applying an 1881 speech to today

  • I stumbled across an article from 1881 about the city of Winfield last week while wandering around the Internet.
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  • I stumbled across an article from 1881 about the city of Winfield last week while wandering around the Internet.
    The website is one operated by William Bottorff and has clippings of newspaper articles by subject, dating back to the 1870s. It is the kind of website a history fan could get lost in for hours.
    One of the articles that caught my attention was the inaugural address of the newly elected mayor of Winfield, W.G. Troup, dated April 14, 1881.
    Two things caught my attention. One was the level of statesmanship, and the other was financing.
    In his address he wrote, “Now that we are elected and installed, we are no longer the partisan candidates of any "ring," "clique," or "act," but as men, worthy of the honor conferred upon us, we are the servants of every man, woman, and child, resident in our little City, and as honest men, are bound to regard the rights of all, however humble or exalted their station among us.”
    The writing is verbose and flowery, typical of the times, but it is very instructive for us today.
    I wish politicians of today would shed their party loyalty once elected, and work for the good of the city, state or country first.  
    You just don’t see that kind of statesmanship anymore, putting the common good ahead of party loyalty or personal gain. Just take a look at how many votes are along partisan lines. When a politician does cross party lines and vote with the other side, his or her opponents will use that in an attack ad during the next election cycle. It would take some politicians with some intestinal fortitude to actually do that in this day and age, but there may be some out there. We can only hope.
    The second thing was the state of the city’s finance. Apparently cities in those days relied on income from taxes or fees on saloons to make ends meet. The article speaks of the city losing its income from the saloons because of prohibition.
    The city of Winfield had a budget of $3,300, and more than $2,000 of that came from the saloons, so they were in a tough spot.
    The mayor was trying to figure out what to do about the situation and hoped to do so, “in the way and manner that will be least oppressive to the public.”
    The mayor asks the public to help out with street mainenance and cleanup. He also asks for help in enforcing the laws concerning alcohol, gambling and “bawdyism.”
    It was also noted that Wellington had 11 saloons at the time, and Caldwell had “no way to number” its’ saloons.
    Page 2 of 2 - The article also mentioned that a store in town had bought a typewriter, the first one in town. The writer called it a “handy machine.”
    James Jordan is editor at the Wellington Daily News. He may be reached at jjordan@wellingtondailynews.com

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