Jump to Navigation

George W. Glick

George GlickPolitician, governor. Democrat. Born: July 4, 1827, Greencastle, Ohio. Died: April 13, 1911, Atchison, Kansas. Served as ninth Governor of Kansas: January 8, 1883, to January 12, 1885.

George Washington Glick was born July 4, 1827, at Greencastle, Ohio,  to Isaac and Mary Vickers Sanders Glick, who were farmers and ranchers. He and his one sister and three brothers were raised on the family farm near Fremont, Ohio. His great-grandfather emigrated from Germany in the midst of the American Revolution. His father was involved in local politics and community affairs. From that experience Glick learned the value of hard work and public service from his boyhood days. His grandfather, George Glick, fought in the War of 1812 as did his mother’s father, Captain George Sanders. Glick obtained his early education at common schools and his higher education at Central College in Ohio.

At age 21 he entered the law offices of Buckland and Hayes (Rutherford Hayes later became the 19th president of the United States) and succeeded to the bar two years later along with many of his Cincinnati Law School contemporaries. He began his own law practice in Fremont, and Sandusky City, Ohio, and was known as an intelligent and hard working lawyer.

In 1857 he married Elizabeth Ryder of Massillon, Ohio, who was from a prominent family of distinguished colonial ancestry and among the first settlers of Concord, Massachusetts. Glick’s marriage added status, grace, and success to his political career. In 1858 he was nominated to Congress by the Democratic Sandusky district but declined the honor. Instead he decided to run for the Ohio State Senate but was doomed to defeat early on in the endeavor. Later that same year the Supreme Court presented Glick the commission of judge advocate general with the rank of colonel in the Second Regiment, 17th Division. In 1859 he moved to Atchison, Kansas, which became his permanent home. There he formed a new law firm with Alfred G. Otis, which became a successful partnership.

At the onset of the Civil War, his calling was service in the Union Army, and he was mustered in the Second Kansas Militia as a corporal; he fought gallantly in the Battle of the Blue where he was wounded.

Glick served as a delegate in several Democratic National Conventions. He was elected a member of the Kansas House of Representatives from 1864 to 1869. He went on to serve as a Kansas State Senator from 1873 to 1879. He was also speaker pro tempore and was appointed treasurer of the managers of the Continental Exposition by Governor George Osborn in 1876.

Well liked and respected, Glick was known as a “just and expert” statesman, but after 15 years of public service he was seriously afflicted with a throat infection that nearly ended his ability to speak. He discontinued his law partnership in 1873 but continued to practice law as an attorney for private railroads; he also managed his farm and served as a charter member and first vice-president of the Kansas State Historical Society at Topeka.

Glick was elected governor of Kansas in 1882, succeeding governor John St. John. He was sworn into office as the ninth governor of the state on January 8, 1883. As a stern Democratic governor his intent was to steer the “ship of state” in a new liberal direction and was credited for creating the railroad commission, a “good roads” law, and an intense cleanup and reassessment of the state’s tax laws. He also established a Livestock Sanitary Commission with an elected state veterinarian to police food industrial affairs after a serious “hoof and mouth” outbreak that ravaged the cattle industry throughout the Midwest. His son, Frederick H. Glick, served as his private secretary, and both he and the governor resided at the Copeland Hotel in Topeka. Glick also pushed for women’s suffrage and a national soldiers’ home at Leavenworth. He had a passion for Indian nations and was saddened by their perpetual despair, so he insisted that they be given the opportunity to prosper with a proper education. Glick persuaded the legislature to enact state law that would authorize and fund the Haskell Institute at Lawrence to train and educate native Indians in land, trade, and other vocational skills.

The Glick administration was marked by a strong economy and credited for fairness and foresight in the process of governing. In 1883 the executive council of Kansas appointed the first board of Railroad Commissioners that included three members. During the Glick administration the legislature defined new and adjusted congressional districts based on the 1880s census.

By 1884 Kansas had grown extremely prosperous and generous, and farmers throughout the state came to the rescue and sent 61 carloads of golden corn to Ohio’s stricken flood victims. The state also shipped a train load of corn to Virginia to aid in building a Confederate soldiers home. Governor Glick thought the stern prohibition law enacted by governor St. John had limited purpose, was a little extreme, and was unwise in the pursuit of fairness and its level of enforcability. The prohibition law was extremely difficult to enforce and the self-employed bootleggers were the only clear winners in this game. He strongly recommended its abolishment but only stalemate ensued on the issue.

The Democratic Party nominated Glick for a second term of office in 1884 but the Republican candidate, John A. Martin, was elected by a slight margin. In 1885 President Grover Cleveland appointed Glick as pension agent for Topeka and while in that position he served for two terms and received and disbursed more than $85,000.00. He also served several terms as president of the State Board of Agriculture. In 1892 the Kansas delegation in the Democratic National Convention at Chicago presented his name to the convention as the candidate for vice president, but the members did not elect him.

Glick still owned the large Shannon Hill Farm estate just outside of Atchison where he raised white purebred shorthorn cattle; a unique coloration not preferred by many shorthorn breeders. Glick’s life in retirement was almost as busy as being governor, as he traveled constantly between his home in Atchison and his hobby orange grove in Florida. While in Florida in 1910 he had a severe fall and sustained a broken hip. After a year of bed rest and pain suffering, he died in April 1911; he was 83 years old.

Each state is entitled to place in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C., statues of two of its most prominent citizens recognized in literature, art, war, or civil life. The Kansas legislature approved a resolution in 1913 for the appropriation of a statue of Glick to be placed in Statuary Hall in the U. S. Capital Building. The statue was designed by Charles H. Niehaus and accepted by Congress as a gift from Kansas in 1914. There it remained until 2003 when the state replaced the Glick statue with one of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Entry: Glick, George W.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2011

Date Modified: February 2017

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.