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Charles Lawrence Robinson

Gov. Charles Lawrence Robinson

  • February 9, 1861 - January 12, 1863
  • Republican
  • July 21, 1818
  • August 17, 1894
  • Massachusetts
  • Amherst College
  • Married Sara Tappan Doolittle Lawrence; two children


CHARLES LAWRENCE ROBINSON, the first governor of Kansas, was born in Hardwick, Massachusetts on July 21, 1818. His education was attained at the Hadley and Amherst Academies, at Amherst College, and at the Berkshire Medical School, where he earned his medical degree in 1843. After establishing his medical career in Belchertown and Springfield, Massachusetts, Robinson headed to California, joining in the gold rush movement. He settled in Sacramento, where he opened a restaurant and edited the Settler’s and Miner’s Tribune. He also became heavily involved in the Squatter Association, becoming one of their most valued leaders. Robinson was severely wounded in a squatter’s riot. He then was arrested and charged with conspiracy, assault, and murder. After ten weeks of confinement, he was tried and found not guilty. Robinson then entered politics in 1850, serving as a one-term member of the California House of Representatives. At the end of his legislative term, he returned to Massachusetts and became the editor of the Fitchburg News. As an agent of the Emigrant Aid Company, Robinson went to Kansas in 1854, settling in Lawrence. He returned to his political aspirations, serving as a delegate to the 1855 Topeka Constitutional Convention, at which time, he was elected governor. After taking office, he was arrested for treason and usurpation of office, but was found not guilty of all charges. On October 4, 1859 the Wyandotte constitution was approved, and the following December, Robinson was elected governor. However, he waited until after Kansas entered into statehood to assume the duties of the governor’s office. He was sworn into office on February 9, 1861. During his tenure, Civil War concerns were addressed, a new state government was arranged, and an acceptable judicial system was organized. In early 1862, Robinson was impeached for high misdemeanors and was accused of selling Kansas bonds below the rate that had been established by the legislature. He was found not guilty of all charges, however, this hurt him politically. After losing his reelection bid, he left office on January 12, 1863. He later was elected to the Kansas State Senate, serving from 1873 to 1881. He also was the superintendent of the Haskell Institute at Lawrence from 1887 to 1889, and was regent of the University of Kansas, a position he held for twelve years. Governor Charles L. Robinson died on August 17, 1894, and was buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence, Kansas.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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