Dusting Off the Old Ones was published in 1961 by W. B. Clarke, Miles City, Montana.
Montana's Territorial Governors
Our stories are usually dated during that period when there was at least one Chinese restaurant in Miles City. We have told you previously in this column that Montana was created as a territory by President Lincoln signing the Act of Congress on May 26, 1864. To-day we will give you the names of the Territorial Governors of Montana. Sidney Edgerton, former chief justice of Idaho, was our first territorial governor, having been appointed in 1864. However, he left the territory within eight months of the convening of the First Territorial Legislature. Thomas Francis Meagher was appointed Secretary of the Territory (corresponding to the present office of Secretary of State) on August 4, 1865, arriving in Montana about a week before Edgerton left, and Meagher then became "Acting Governor." He was "Acting Governor" for a little more than a year. His tenure as Acting Governor was known as the "Reign of Meagher" and was of extreme partisanship--he having aligned himself with pre-southern Democrats. Of course, this period was Civil War time. In 1861, Congress annulled all acts of the 2nd and 3rd legislative assemblies of the territory. These sessions were held during the "Reign of Meagher," and the act of Congress in so doing was unprecedented in American history. Meagher drowned at Fort Benton in 1867 under mysterious circumstances. Green Clay Smith, a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, was appointed governor by President Johnson in 1866. James M. Ashley, persecutor of President Johnson, was appointed as governor by President Grant in 1869. Benjamin F. Potts, Ohio Republican leader, was appointed as Governor by President Grant in 1810 and served longer than any territorial governor--until 1883. J. Schuyler Crosby, a New York Republican, was appointed by President Arthur in 1883. President Arthur appointed B. Platt Carpenter, a New York Republican, as governor in 1884. Samuel T. Hauser, a leading Montana capitalist and Democrat, was appointed in 1885 by President Cleveland. Preston H. Leslie, a Kentucky Democrat, was appointed in 1887 by President Cleveland. The last territorial governor, Benjamin F. White, a Dillon business man, was appointed by President Harrison in 1889, and served from April 9th of that year, until November 8th, at which time Montana was admitted to the Union as a state, and Joseph K. Toole took over the governor's job, and was the State of Montana's first governor. These territorial governors, as you will note, were all presidential appointees, and their political affiliation depended upon the party in power in Washington.