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The Public Papers of Governor Simeon Willis, 1943-1947

The Public Papers of Governor Simeon Willis, 1943-1947

James C. Klotter Editor
Edmund D. Lyon
C. David Dalton
Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 424
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  • Book Info
    The Public Papers of Governor Simeon Willis, 1943-1947
    Book Description:

    During the period from 1931 to 1967 -- thirty-six years -- Kentuckians elected only one Republican as governor of the Commonwealth. Yet that man, a former justice of the state's highest court, seldom appears as other than a footnote in the standard histories. That is unfortunate, for Simeon Willis of Ashland made a fine record as governor, assuming the office during World War II and leaving it strengthened in a postwar world.

    In this new volume in the Public Papers of the Governors of Kentucky series, editor James C. Klotter has assembled 173 documents and public statements, so that the Willis administration may be examined in depth for the first time.

    Such an examination is long overdue, for Willis sought to accomplish much under difficult circumstances. Hindered by the opposition party's control of the legislature and operating under wartime restrictions, the Willis administration nevertheless made path-breaking moves in education, health care, transportation, and civil rights.

    Many of the same difficulties Kentucky has faced in more recent years also existed during Willis's term. How he dealt with those puzzles can be instructive for today's citizens and leaders. Willis faced budget problems, sought to increase aid to education, confronted a conflict over the presidency of what is now Morehead State University, and attempted to increase tourism in the state. His calls for change would be echoed by later governors.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5694-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
    (pp. xix-xx)
    (pp. 1-6)

    Between 1931 and 1967 the state of Kentucky elected only one Republican governor. That man was Simeon Willis. Why? What was it about Willis that made him a successful gubernatorial candidate— and a successful governor?

    Little in his background predicted such advancement, for his early life followed an outline similar to many others of his generation and profession. Born December 1,1879, in Aid Township, Lawrence County, Ohio, Simeon Willis was the youngest of nine children and the seventh son of a seventh son. (His birth certificate contains middle initial or middle name. He apparently added the “S” later for convenience.)...

    (pp. 7-27)

    Fellow citizens:

    On November the second the people of Kentucky will choose the kind of government we shall have for the next four years. I bear the banner of the Republican party with that deep sense of responsibility which any man must feel when he is fighting for the cause of good government. The success of the cause is vital, and I ask the aid of all voters who share with me the desire to recover for the people the right to govern themselves. This election happens at a time when the country is engaged in a global war which...

    (pp. 28-30)

    My fellow citizens:

    I am very happy indeed to know from the lips of Governor Johnson that he regarded my warriors as worthy foes. And of course I am even more happy that the boys from the banks of the rivers and from the tops of the mountains and from the valleys overwhelmed his cohorts.¹ But equally happy am I that they did not take from him that priceless gift, his sense of humor. And as Governor Johnson . . . goes back to his choice pursuit of his great profession, smiling, we smile with him and give him our...

    (pp. 31-103)

    Governor Willis greeted the council¹ briefly this morning and announced he will submit his message Monday.

    “My thought is,” he said, “that we should cut expenses wherever possible, but not in any way to impair the essential services of government. Then, when we have determined the irreducible minimums, we should call in the tax departments to see if we have the money to balance the budget.

    “Politically,” the governor continued, “the majority of the legislative branch is Democratic and the executive branch is Republican, but the matters we deal with are of common interest. I am sure we can work...

    (pp. 104-135)

    “The administration of justice is the noblest profession of all mankind,” Governor-elect S.S. Willis told members of the Boyd County Bar Association at a dinner in his honor here last night. . . .

    “Much of the confusion of our land will disappear if justice can be performed; it is up to the bar of our nation to see that our country retains the things for which it was founded,” Willis said.

    “The world has become as one, and distance is nothing. We are in a big world living close together, and we must all conform to the divine plan....

    (pp. 136-160)

    Fellow Citizens of Kentucky:

    It is a rare privilege, as governor of the commonwealth, to speak on behalf of the people of Kentucky. It is a privilege even rarer to be able to utter sentiments which we know will command universal approval. Such an occasion is now presented in the celebration of an important date in the life of Centre College. For a century and a quarter, old Centre has been a potent factor in the cultural, spiritual, and educational growth of this state. The influence of the college, and of those great spirits that gave it character and leadership,...

    (pp. 161-177)

    “The first responsibility of government is the health of the people. Education, so closely allied with health, is second,” Governor Simeon Willis said.

    The governor said he was “looking forward to the day when Kentucky’s district tuberculosis hospitals are opened so that every case of tuberculosis in Kentucky may be placed in a hospital for proper care, and the remainder of the state's inhabitants may be protected from spread of the disease.”¹

    TOMORROW hundreds of unselfish and public-spirited men and women in every county of our state start a campaign, which will extend to the end of this month, to raise...

    (pp. 178-202)

    I wish to thank you¹ and the officers of your organization for the appeal you sent to the members of the executive and legislative branches of the new administration.

    Self-government is always on trial, and the present situation presents an opportunity for all of us to work toward a demonstration of the capacity of the people to govern.

    It is my fixed purpose to seek only the welfare of Kentucky, and I shall ask nothing for partisan advantage.

    My appeal to the legislative branch will be for good government. I expect to obtain the services of the best men and...

    (pp. 203-239)

    Dr. Gabbard¹ and fellow Republicans:

    For forty-five years—short years—I have been attending Republican conventions in Kentucky, but this is the best convention that we have ever had. For twelve long, long years we have seen our country mismanaged, manhandled, and outraged by a government that had no reference to the Constitution or the laws or the sentiment of sound Americanism. We have been helpless to stem that tide. But the day of our deliverance is now in sight, and this great audience certifies that the next president of the United States will be a Republican. This great audience...

    (pp. 240-256)

    Salute to Kentucky men in training at St. Petersburg in the United States Maritime Service Training Station, and to all Kentuckians in the armed services stationed in the state of Florida:

    The people of Kentucky are justly proud of the present generation of Kentuckians serving in the cause of our country in all the fields of usefulness. Kentucky is a typical pioneer state with traditions of courage, adventure, sacrifice, and achievement. The early settlers conquered a wilderness and constructed a commonwealth. In every stage of history this state has played a part worthy of the heritage given by our fathers....

    (pp. 257-281)

    BY virtue of the authority vested in the chief executive, it is hereby ordered that a commission to be known as Postwar Advisory Planning Commission be created to study and investigate the physical and human resources of the state and to formulate plans and make recommendations for the full development of such resources for the aid of agriculture, labor, manufacture, mining, transportation, conservation, and all other interests of the state. The commission will consider and coordinate the plans and recommendations of all other planning bodies, including private and governmental bodies, as related particularly to the opportunities and problems of Kentucky....

    (pp. 282-300)

    The problem of America is the development of the character and strength of our people, and nothing is more helpful than travel and recreation in creating the atmosphere and conditions for growth and progress, Kentucky’s Governor Simeon S. Willis told a special conference of governors and officials of the Upper Great Lakes region here today.

    “Kentucky,” Governor Willis said, “is vitally interested in your plans and similarly in the development of greater interest in the facilities for recreation and vacationists in my home state of Kentucky, really the center of America.

    “Kentucky,” Governor Willis told the conference, “hopes to be...

  17. LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS, 1946-1947
    (pp. 301-335)

    The constitution of Kentucky directs the governor, from time to time, to give to the General Assembly information of the state of the commonwealth and recommend to their consideration such measures as he may deem expedient.

    The statute is more specific. It requires the governor to submit a budget message, giving a summary description of his proposed financial policies and plans, and explaining the more important features of the proposed financial and operating programs and their anticipated effects on the finances and welfare of the state.

    The duties thus imposed I shall now proceed to discharge in a spirit of...

    (pp. 336-374)

    Governor Willis cited the fact that in his victory for the governorship by a margin of around eight thousand votes, he polled eighteen thousand votes in the First District. This demonstrates the importance of getting out a large Republican vote in this section, even if the Democrats poll a larger vote in the district. Republican margins elsewhere can offset the First District’s Democratic majority, he declared.

    It is possible through coordinated efforts to bring out a vote of twenty-five thousand Republicans in this district, the governor added, and declared that if this is done it will mean a sweeping victory...

    (pp. 375-376)

    MY fellow Kentuckians:

    It is a great honor to have served the people of Kentucky as chief magistrate. In the circumstances of a world war and the aftermath of war many difficulties have had to be met. The task has been made easier by the loyal service of faithful officials and employees who have carried on the endless details of the executive work.

    It is my pleasure on this occasion to offer my grateful thanks to the heads of departments; to the directors of divisions; to the many employees who have worked so ardently to advance the welfare of the...

  20. APPENDIX Public Speeches, Statements, and Extended Remarks
    (pp. 377-394)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 395-404)