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This Day in History – Feb 3, 1900 – The 34th Governor of Kentucky dies from shooting!

William J Goebel On February 3,1900, William Goebel, the newly elected Governor of Kentucky died after serving four days in office. Goebel had been shot by an assassin the day before he was sworn in as the 34th Governor of the state. Goebel remains the only state governor in the nation to be assassinated while in office. John Connelly of Texas and George Wallace of Alabama both survived assassination attempts. From Wikipedia:

Goebel’s abrasive personality made him many political enemies, but his championing of populist causes, like railroad regulation, also won him many friends. This conflict of opinions came to a head in the Kentucky gubernatorial election of 1899. Goebel, a Democrat, divided his party with self-serving political tactics at a time when Kentucky Republicans were finally gaining strength, having elected the party’s first governor four years previously. These dynamics led to a close contest between Goebel and William S. Taylor. In the politically chaotic climate that resulted, Goebel was assassinated. Everyone charged in connection with the murder was either acquitted or pardoned, and the identity of his assassin remains uncertain……

The assassination…..

While the election results remained in dispute, Goebel, despite being warned of a rumored assassination plot against him, walked flanked by two bodyguards to the Old State Capitol on the morning of January 30, 1900. Reports conflict about what happened, but some five or six shots were fired from the nearby State Building, one striking Goebel in the chest and wounding him seriously…..

and then just like today the Democrats and Republicans could not agree……

Taylor, serving as governor pending a final decision on the election, called out the militia and ordered the General Assembly into a special session, not in Frankfort, but in London, Kentucky, a Republican area.[10] The Republican minority obeyed the call and went to London. Democrats resisted the move, many going instead to Louisville. Both groups claimed authority, but the Republicans were too few to muster a quorum.[9]

The investigation and trial

……During the ensuing assassination investigation, suspicion naturally focused on deposed governor Taylor, who fled to Indianapolis, Indiana under the looming threat of indictment.[7] The governor of Indiana refused to extradite Taylor, and he was thus never questioned about his knowledge of the plot to kill Goebel. Taylor became a successful lawyer in Indiana, and was pardoned in 1909 by Beckham’s successor, Republican Augustus E. Willson.[10]

Sixteen people, including Taylor, were eventually indicted in the assassination of Governor Goebel. Three accepted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony. Only five ever went to trial, two of those being acquitted.[3] Convictions were handed down against Taylor’s Secretary of State Caleb Powers, Henry Youtsey, and Jim Howard. The prosecution charged that Powers was the mastermind, having a political opponent killed so that his boss, Governor Taylor, could stay in office. Youtsey was an alleged intermediary, and Howard, who was said to have been in Frankfort to seek a pardon from Taylor for the killing of a man in a family feud,[10] was accused of being the actual assassin.[3]

The trials were fraught with irregularities. All three judges were pro-Goebel Democrats,[10] and at one point the juror pool of 368 people was found to have only eight Republicans. Republican appeals courts overturned Powers’ and Howard’s convictions, though Powers was tried three more times, resulting in two convictions and a hung jury and Howard was tried and convicted twice more. Both men were pardoned in 1908 by Governor Augustus E. Willson.

Youtsey, who received a life sentence, did not appeal, but after two years in prison, he turned state’s evidence. In Howard’s second trial, Youtsey claimed that ex-governor Taylor had discussed an assassination plot with Youtsey and Howard. He backed the prosecution’s claims that Taylor and Powers worked out the details, he acted as an intermediary, and Howard fired the shot. On cross examination, the defense pointed out contradictions in the details of Youtsey’s story, but Howard was still convicted. Youtsey was paroled in 1916 and was pardoned in 1919 by Democratic governor James D. Black.[3][4][10]

Most historians agree that the assassin of Governor Goebel will never be conclusively identified….

Read the full story at Wikipedia