JAMES HAMILTON PEABODY, Colorado’s 13th governor, was born in Topsham, Vermont, on August 21, 1852. He was educated in the public schools of Vermont, and attended the Bryant and Stratton Commercial Colleges at Barre and Burlington, Vermont. In 1875 Peabody moved to Denver, and worked in a mercantile business, in which he later became the manager and sole owner. He entered politics as county clerk of Fremont County, an office he held from 1885 to 1889. He was one of the organizers and president of the First National Bank and the Electric Light Company of Canon City. Peabody also served Canon City as treasurer for two years, mayor for two years, and city councilman for two years. He won the 1902 Republican gubernatorial nomination, and was elected Governor of Colorado. During his tenure, he dealt with a succession of labor strikes. The key controversial issues were the miners’ wages and the acknowledgment of the labor unions. These difficulties extended to the Cripple Creek strike in 1903, the coal strike of November 1903, and the Reduction Mill employees strike in 1904. Whenever necessary, Peabody would call out the National Guard to restore peace and reconcile the strike. The strikes resulted in the establishment of an eight-hour workday and the breakup of the Western Federation of Miners. Peabody ran for reelection in 1904, and lost to Alva Adams, but the election was contested amid allegations of voter fraud. The predominately Republican legislature declared Peabody had won, but a condition was attached that he resign immediately after taking the oath of office. Peabody served one day, and was succeeded by Republican Lieutenant Governor Jesse F. McDonald. With that, Colorado earned the dubious distinction of having three different governors in one day. Retiring from public service, Governor James H. Peabody died on November 23, 1917, and is buried at the Greenwood Cemetery, Canon City, Colorado.
Colorado State Archives
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.