Date of Award
Society today has similar yet diverse terms whereby it classifies public servants as either politicians or statesmen. When one hears the word ’’politician”, one’s mind immediately conjures up an image of a cigar-chewing, handshaking, baby-kissing character who pleads for good government and at the same time accepts bribes, payoffs, and other remunerations. Conversely, one thinks of a statesman as being a staid, paternal and decorous American going about doing good and avoiding evil. In truth the notion of a public servant as either a politician or a stateman is purely subjective. The maxim that things are the measure of the mind, has been shelved for the more popular one that holds the mind’is the measure of things. We believe only that which we wish! History, however, is usually the final Judge of a man’s worth.
It is seldom that a public servant is widely acclaimed by all interest groups and factions as the epitome of the ’’true servant of mankind.” Montana has produced such a man and it is with this ’’man of the state," Joseph Kemp Toole, that this paper is concerned.
Joseph Kemp Toole, destined to become the first elected governor of Montana was born on May 12, 1851, in Savanna, Missouri. He was one of ten children born to Edwin and Lucinda Porter Toole. More than likely his parents were prosperous since Toole attended the Western Military Institute at Newcastle, Kentucky, after he had completed his primary education. He was a gifted student and graduated from the Institute with high honors. Upon completion of his f formal education, he started his legal career by reading law in the office of Webb and Barber in Savanna. When he had reached his eighteenth year, Toole came to Montana to work in the office of his brother, E. Warren Toole, a lawyer in Helena. In 1870 he finished his legal training and in that year was admitted to the bar. As Thomas Stout states in his work Montana: Its Story and Biography ’"the fourteen years which followed made the firm of Toole and Toole famous in the latter legal annals of Montana." When Toole was twenty-one years old, he was elected district attorney of the Third Judicial District. Well trained indeed was this man so recently introduced to the West. He served two terms in this position, closely observing the many facets of legal life in Montana territory. Toole then became engulfed in the problems of Montana and in 1881 he was chosen to represent Lewis and Clark County in the council of the Legislative Assembly. He was so highly esteemed by his contemporaries that he was chosen Council President. Three years later he was a member of the Constitutional Convention at Helena. The outstanding issue then was the admission of Montana as a state. The Convention’s purpose was to draft a constitution and present it to Congress with a plea for admission. It had been a practice of the federal government to appoint the territorial officers for Montana.
These ’’carpet baggers” were appointed without consultation of the people over whom they were to rule. Congress used these appointments, in reality a form of patronage, as a method of prolonging the territorial status of Montana. Between the Conventions of 1884 and 1889, Toole served two terms as the territorial representative of Montana. On January 15, 1889, he told the Congress that "he the president has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance." Toole became a bitter and outspoken foe of the type of federal appointees and of the characteristics of the carpet bag era In Montana. He presented to Congress the constitution adopted by the 1884 convention in Helena. Toole never gave up in his role as territorial representative, trying to impress upon Congress the beneficial results to develop if Montana could be admitted. The territory was not without its own arguments.
Devitt, J. Thomas, "Governor Joseph Kemp Toole and the Second Legislative Assembly" (1962). History Undergraduate Theses. 82.