Kansas Senator E. G. Ross

(Frank) And here we are again. Aren’t you happy? (Deb) I’m happy. This next story is one that I love. This is one of my favorite stories about Senator E.G. Ross of Kansas. And I thought, given the political climate Frank, that it would be appropriate to talk about a decent man and how he was treated, how this one decent man got treated. But I think it is really important too, to remember in light of the political climate, there are a lot of decent people out there in public service. And I have to give a shout out, one of my dear friends passed away recently and he’s known to so many people around Kansas and that was Command Sergeant Major Retired Jack Elliott. And he was the Command Sergeant Major for the Kansas National Guard. He actually served 42 years active duty, an amazing man. And at his funeral there were so many officers, medal of honor recipients, the Adjutant General. All these people came to show their respects. But the most poignant eulogy came from his Great Grandson that Jack has helped raise. And he is in the Marine ROTC at Topeka High and talked about his Great Grandfather and what he had done for him. And it was just beautiful. So, there are still really incredible men of integrity and women of integrity among us. Maybe we should take a little time to take a closer look some time and see who they are and what they contribute. A little shout out there. (Frank) And also the Senator you’re going to talk about was ailing, quite ailing during the impeachment trial of Johnson at the time. And they actually carried him in to have him cast his vote. And of course, you’re going to tell them what the vote was. (Deb) Bless his heart. It’s an incredible story and it’s a kind of a mixed legacy since he was basically run out of Kansas. Hugh Cameron, remember we talked about him a few weeks ago, the Kansas Hermit, actually walked to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to apologize… (Frank) Oh yeah. (Deb) …to former Senator Ross at one point. So, just a really big story and we’ll share a little bit of it with you today. But we hope that you find some inspiration in it. When he passed away in 1907, newspapers proclaimed that he died in exile. That is pretty accurate. The once popular publisher and U. S. Senator Edmund G Ross was no longer welcome in Kansas. He eventually left, financially and emotionally devastated, and moved to the New Mexico Territory. President Grover Cleveland appointed him Territorial Governor but he would never recover his fortune, and it would take generations for his prestige to return. To understand the story, we must go back to Abraham Lincoln and Jim Lane. For many legitimate reasons, the bizarre Kansas senator had become a favorite of Lincoln’s. The relationship gave Lane great power. With Lincoln’s death, Lane’s star not only waned but plummeted. He was facing possible criminal charges when he committed suicide in 1866. In his place, the very capable E. G. Ross was appointed. He had not been in Washington long when the move to impeach President Andrew Johnson gained momentum. Radical Republicans sought the president’s removal and Ross was expected to go along with them. He didn’t. It was Ross’s no vote that sealed his fate as an exile and as a hero in the history books, earning him inclusion in John F. Kennedy’s, Profiles in Courage. Ross cast that historic vote understanding full well the cost. “Everything an ambition man holds dear,” he had said, he knew he was losing. When the Rosses returned to Topeka they were insulted, assaulted, spit upon. One of the most poignant monuments to the price of conscience is in Historic Topeka Cemetery where the Ross Family plot is empty save for the grave of his 4-year-old son. Had things been different, father and mother would lie beside the little one, and there would be a huge granite marker with ROSS etched upon it. Instead, the toddler’s flat marker is barely noticeable.