Tis the season... for every other commercial on television or radio to tout a candidate for this or that office. The fall of 1914 was not all that much different. That year also saw Coloradoan's heading for the polls to elect a new Governor. There were candidates from three major parties back then - the Republicans, the Democrats, and the Progressives. The Progressive Party was formed by former President Theodore Roosevelt (who had left office in 1909), after a split in the Republican Party between him and President William Howard Taft. The party also became known as the Bull Moose Party after journalists quoted Roosevelt saying "I'm feeling like a bull moose" shortly after the new party was formed.
The Progressives put forth a broad range of social and political reforms, many of which still resonate today: Strict limits and disclosure requirements on political campaign contributions, registration of lobbyists, a National Health Service to include all existing government medical agencies, Social insurance to provide for the elderly, the unemployed, and the disabled, A minimum wage law for women (they were also in support of women’s suffrage), an eight hour workday, a federal securities commission, a Constitutional amendment to allow a Federal income tax and of special relevance to this blog establishment of Workers' compensation for work-related injuries.
The Republican candidate for Governor that year was a gentleman by the name of George Carlson who the Routt County Republican newspaper characterized on September 4, 1914 this way: “He is the man who has really done things as a district attorney. His record in that office is the most brilliant in the history of the state. He is in a position to command the respect and support of both law abiding union and non-union men and of every citizen who believes in law and order. He is a self made man, used to hard work and spendidly educated.” Born in 1876 in Alta, Iowa the soon to be 20th Governor of Colorado graduated from the University of Colorado in 1902 and earned his law degree there in Fort Collins, Colorado from 1905-08, and was district attorney in Fort Collins from 1908-14.
The Aspen Democrat-Times in December 1914 described then Governor-elect Carlson’s proposal, made as he testified before the federal industrial relations commission (which was looking in to the causes and effects of the Colorado coal strike), for a State Industrial Commission to be appointed by the governor and which would “…have charge of all branches of state government dealing with industrial and labor affairs.” The primary purpose of this commission would be “…the improvement of safety and sanitary devices” and “the establishment of workmen’s compensation.” The Aspen Democrat-Times reported in the same article that from 1911 to 1913 “…Colorado mine accidents were from 50 to 100 percent higher per 1000 men employed – and per million tons of coal mined, than the general average for the country.” The stage was being set for efforts to pass the act that would bring our company into being.