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Alva Adams

Gov. Alva Adams

  • January 11, 1887 - January 8, 1889
    January 12, 1897 - January 10, 1899
    January 10, 1905 - March 16, 1905
  • Democratic
  • May 14, 1850
  • November 1, 1922
  • Wisconsin
  • Married Ella Nye; one child
  • Succeeded


ALVA ADAMS was born in Iowa County, Wisconsin, on May 14, 1850. He received a basic education, but excelled in his business ventures when he moved to Colorado in 1871. Adams launched himself in the hardware and lumber business, and in a five-year period, he opened a franchise parallel to almost every extension of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. He entered politics in 1873, when he was elected to the first city council of South Pueblo. He also served as a representative in the Colorado General Assembly in 1876. Adams was elected Colorado’s fifth governor on November 4, 1886, and he was sworn into office on January 11, 1887. During his first term, the Bureau of Labor Statistics was created; a law was passed ending public executions and corporal punishment at state prisons. Legislation was also enacted making it illegal for children under 14 to be used for labor. Adams left office on January 10, 1889, and returned to his business endeavors. He was reelected to his second governorship on November 3, 1896. During his second administration, he mediated the negotiations in the extended and disastrous Leadville strike in 1896, and the State Board of Arbitration was established in 1897. When America went to war with Spain in 1998, Adams raised money to finance the troops, and he personally acquired each soldier’s identification tags. His second term ended on January 10, 1899, and he was reelected to a third term on November 8, 1904, but amid allegations of voter’s fraud. The election was contested, and the controversy was decided by the predominately Republican legislature. Their decision was that neither Adams nor his opponent should be named governor. Jesse J. McDonald, who was lieutenant governor at the time, became Colorado’s governor. Adams returned to his business interests and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1906. He later served as a member to 1908 Democratic National Committee. Governor Alva Adams died from diabetes on November 1, 1922, and is buried at the Roselawn Cemetery, Pueblo, Colorado.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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