J. C. W. BECKHAM was born in Bardstown, Kentucky on August 5, 1865. His education was attained at the Roseland Academy, at Central University, and at the University of Kentucky, where he earned a law degree in 1889. After establishing a legal practice in Bardstown, Beckham entered into a political career. He served as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1894 to 1898, was speaker of the house in 1898, and was elected lieutenant governor of Kentucky in 1899. On February 3, 1900, Governor William Goebel passed away, and Beckham, who was lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. On November 6, 1900, Beckham won a special election that was held to fill Goebel’s unexpired term. He was reelected to a second term in 1903. During his tenure, a uniform textbook law was sanctioned, two normal schools were established, a women’s and child labor law and an improved pure food law were enacted. Also, funding was secured for the new state capitol, the public deficit was reduced, and the state railroad commission was granted additional power. After leaving office on December 10, 1907, Beckham continued to stay active in public service. He served as a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions from 1900 to 1920, and was a member of the U.S. Senate from 1915 to 1921. In 1936, he served on the Public Service Commission, as well as on the Department of Business Regulations Commission and on the State Government Reorganization Commission, of which he was chairman. Governor J.C.W. Beckham passed away on January 9, 1940, and was buried at the Frankfort Cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Biographical Directory of the U.S Congress
Governors' Papers, Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives, Public Records Division
The Political Graveyard
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.