KanColl: The Kansas Historical Quarterly

A Populist Survival:
Judge Frank Doster in the 1920's

by Michael J. Brodhead

Winter, 1968 (Vol. 24, No. 4), pages 443 to 456
Transcription by Larry Wilgers; HTML composition by Name withheld upon request;
digitized with permission of the Kansas State Historical Society.
NOTE: The numbers in brackets refer to endnotes for this text.

WITHIN recent years historians have come to reject the notion that reform sentiment was almost negligible in the 1920's. The revisionist view, however laudable and correct it may be, has tended to be national or urban in focus. The Menckenesque view of the South and rural Middle West still persists. The old interpretation lumps Kansas, with its anti-cigarette law and its Klan in the same category with the allegedly impossible South. Only William Allen White, according to the traditional view, kept the flame of Progressivism burning in the Sunflower state during the Harding-Coolidge era. In truth, White had plenty of company and many of the Kansas reformers were willing to go much further than the Emporia editor in their advocacy of liberalism.

     Among the more vocal and persistent champions of liberal ideology in Kansas was Frank Doster (1847-1933). Doster was born in (West) Virginia and spent most of his boyhood on an Indiana farm. After serving in the Union army in the Civil War, he returned to Indiana for training in the law. Shortly after marriage to an Illinois girl, he passed the bar examination in that state. In 1879 he emigrated to Kansas and began practicing in Marion. Two years later he was elected to the Kansas legislature and seemed destined for a successful career in Republican politics. His attraction to radical ideas, however, led him successively into the Greenback Union Labor, People's, and the Bryan wing of the Democratic parties. In his early career opponents accused him of communism, socialism, anarchism, atheism, and free-love leanings.

     Actually Doster was more a radical in theory than in practice and was sufficiently orthodox in his view of the law to receive a district judgeship in 1887. By 1891, however, he had become thoroughly identified with the rising People's party. In his campaign for reelection that year he declared at a Populist rally that "the rights of the user are paramount to the rights of the owners."

     It was Doster's habit to make his statements sound more radical than they actually were and the Republican opposition denounced him for his "socialism." He later explained that he based his statement on Chief Justice Waite's Munn v. Illinois decision of 1878, in which Waite upheld the right of government to regulate commercial enterprises "clothed with a public interest." Doster lost his bid for reelection but continued to serve Kansas Populism as an orator and as one of the party's legal advisors. So esteemed did he become in the eyes of the Populists that they elevated him to the chief justiceship of the state in 1896. Contrary to the predictions of some Republicans, Doster's six years on the supreme bench were characterized by a strict adherence to the common-law tradition.

Frank Doster, 1847-1933

Frank Doster (1847-1933)
Starting in Kansas as a Marion attorney, Doster served as the Populist chief justice of the Kansas supreme court, 1897-1903. Although in his lifetime he was variously accused of having communistic, socialistic, anarchistic, atheistic, and free-love leanings, he may have been only a turn-of-the-century liberal, "more a radical in theory than in practice."

     Following the demise of Populism and his defeat for reelection in 1902, he continued to live in Topeka and became assistant general attorney for the Missouri Pacific railroad in Kansas. His interest in reform, however, remained. He lived comfortably with the age of general reform in the early years of the 20th century and championed several crusades characteristic of the period&endash;the regulation of industry, woman's suffrage, and the initiative, referendum, and recall. He was also vocal in his opposition to imperialism, prohibition, and the judicial nullification of social and economic legislation.

     Unlike most of his Populist colleagues, Doster lived well into the 20th century. The so-called Age of Normalcy brought no abatement in his zeal for liberal ideas. Doster's continued interest in reform in a decade when reform no longer enjoyed widespread popularity is remarkable in itself. Still more noteworthy was his ability to keep pace with the newer liberal currents. Although he premised his advocacy of the new liberalism on his old beliefs in social and economic evolution and the public interest principle of the Munn decision, he applied them to the changed conditions of the postwar era. He did not simply represent the last gasp of Populism. During the 1920s he championed internationalism, defended the Russian experiment with communism and denounced prohibition, child labor, intolerance, fundamentalism, and the union of church and state.

     His most conspicuous theme was his old demand for a purer jurisprudence. In letters to the Topeka dailies he urged the public to free itself from the blind acceptance of judicial infallibility. Courts, like administrative and legislative bodies, made mistakes. He cited the Dred Scott decision, the perverse interpretations of the 14th amendment, and instances of judicial partisanship and favoritism to corporations. In 1924 he expressed his sympathy with the demand of the La Follette Progressives for the end of Judicial nullification of social legislation. He agreed also with the Wisconsin senator's opposition to injunctions in labor disputes. Doster added that although he approved of La Follette's economic views he did not support him for the Presidency because of the senator s opposition to the war and the League of Nations. [1]

     In talks before the bar associations of Topeka, Wichita, and Kansas City, he castigated the courts for haphazard "expediency" decisions. The United States supreme court's In re Neagle decision was a "monstrous perversion of Judicial power" because it allowed a federal marshal to kill with impunity the assailant of Justice Stephen J. Field. The Kansas supreme court had erred grievously in a decision allowing one court to enjoin another from hearing a case. Also objectionable was a ruling which permitted mandatory prayers in the public schools. Another instance of flagrant disregard of the state constitution occurred when the legislature established drainage districts and limited the voters and officials of the districts to property owners and taxpayers. Worse still was the refusal of the state's highest tribunal to invalidate the act. Doster urged his colleagues to join him in saying to the Justices "without any affectation of deference, but bravely and to their faces: Your Honors, that is not the law!'" [2]

     In 1921 the state supreme court appointed a commission to revise the statutes of Kansas. Although not a member of the commission, Doster was invited to contribute to the final reports of 1922 and 1923. In them he gave his favorable opinion on the constitutionality of the bill drafted to revise and amend obsolete statutes and warned the commissioners against too-liberal editing of the old laws. [3]

     Doster continued to be active in the state bar association. In 1928 he served on its committee on the Kansas Digest. [4] His participation on the association's committee on Americanization and citizenship in the previous year occasioned a magnificent statement in defense of libertarian principles. By 1927 the Ku Klux Klan was virtually dead in Kansas, but post-war nativism was still much in evidence and found expression in the committee's report. Chairman W. M. Glenn set the tone in his introductory remarks. Glenn urged the lawyers to

     talk Americanization in all of our talks, think it in our thoughts and act it in our actions. Even if it is not altogether true in all cases we must be imbued with the thoughts that we are citizens of the greatest country in the world; that our citizens have the greatest prosperity and the greatest opportunities; that we have the smartest men and women; that our men are the best looking and our women the prettiest anywhere; that the United States does more for its citizens than any other country in the world does for its citizens; that our citizens have the greatest prosperity and we venerate and reverence our constitution as the greatest political document ever drawn.

     Committee member J. S. Dean inveighed against the large number of foreign-born who showed no respect for American institutions, whose "mental diet" was the "radical rot" fed them by the newspapers of anarchists, communists, socialists "and other such cattle." Committeeman I. M. Platt concurred with Dean's recognition of the threat to the nation but suggested that his proposal for a campaign to cancel the citizenship and repatriate the offenders would be "a rather difficult problem."

     In the face of such sentiments Frank Strong, professor of law and former chancellor of the University of Kansas, made a plea for social, political, and economic justice, tolerance and friendship for the immigrants. He also urged that the native-born obey the laws and thereby set a good example for the foreign-born. Doster's reply to the nativists was more direct. He bluntly asserted that good citizenship meant more than a knowledge of the citizen's duties; awareness of his rights was more important. Good citizenship, he concluded, "doesn't consist in meaningless hot air mouthing about 'one hundred per cent Americanism,' nor in servile pretensions of obedience to law merely because it is law, but as a beginning lesson it consists in the knowledge that constitutions are not made for the benefit of majorities, but are made as well, if not primarily, for the protection of minorities." [5]

     During the 1920's some of Doster's thoughts on the law reached the chief justice of the United States supreme court. In 1922 William H. Taft wrote Doster's old colleague William R. Smith of the Kansas supreme bench, thanking him for sending a copy of Judge Doster's "thoughtful judicial inquiry" which he commended as "written in a fine spirit and full of interesting suggestions and analogies." [6]

     Doster was not the atheist which opponents had accused him of being earlier in his career, even though his public utterances showed him to be far from orthodox Christianity. As he advanced in years, however, he became increasingly active in Unitarian circles in Topeka. Early in the 1920's Doster addressed the Unitarians on the question of man's immortality. The religionists, said Doster, avoided inquiry into the eternal life. With scriptural authority to support their belief, they considered further proof unnecessary. Scientists also neglected the problem. They believed it to be outside their province because it involved the spiritual, not the material realm. The future life, however, was a scientific question according to Doster. He posited a tentative affirmation of immortality on the physical laws of the conservation of energy and the correlation of forces. The first principle taught that energy or force was indestructible. If gravity, heat, light, and radioactivity persisted, why could not human consciousness, or life, persist? Life too was a form of energy. The second principle applicable to the proof of immortality, the correlation of forces, provided order and harmony in the universe. The Creator would not have endowed all men with the desire for the life eternal without the possibility of fulfillment. "God's law" of the correlation of forces, therefore, "will give [man] an eternal and a better life." [7]

     In 1925, at the annual laymen's Sunday, Doster again spoke to the Unitarians. This time the topic was his belief in Jesus. He confessed to being a "Violator, at heart, of every one of his laws, violator, in deed, of many of them, skeptic to all the religions, atheist to all the gods"; yet he would "uncover my head to him as the supreme excellence of the world." Doster dismissed virgin birth, sacrificial atonement, the resurrection, and other supernatural claims in Christian dogma. Early Christians had borrowed them from paganism and they detracted from the true glory of Jesus. The greatest appeal of the religion of Christ was its "responsiveness to the call of the human heart." The mystic religions of the East stressed release from sin through asceticism and "fixity of thought on abstract virtues." The superiority of the teachings of Christ lay in the command to "love thy neighbor as thyself." The emphasis on love, mercy, truth, and goodness made Christianity unique among the world's religions. Doster was convinced of the existence of the historical Jesus, but preferred not to know him better, for then he would be "familiar and commonplace." Rather he wanted to look upon him as "the unknowable mystic of the ages." [8]

     Doster's growing interest in religion did not deter him from speaking out against the intrusion of the church into secular affairs. In a letter to the Topeka Daily Capital he denounced Sunday observance laws. The basis of Sabbath observance was the belief in a six-day creation, which scientists and even some ministers rejected. "The idea of cherishing the story of a six days creation, giving it the sanctity of a divine revelation and the authority of penal law, after spending millions of dollars to teach its untruth and after everybody of intelligence has rejected it as a childish fable, is not only a paradoxical but a humiliating fact of human psychology."

     In a public address he voiced his vigorous objections to religious instruction in the public schools. He denied that such instruction was necessary for teaching proper conduct. Ethics and morals were not dependent upon religious dogma. "Impossible fables" such as the six-day creation and divine inspiration for the writing of the Bible did not build character, scholarship, or spirituality. Organized Christianity, moreover, had always impeded the spread of learning. For proof he pointed first to medieval Catholicism and then to the recent burning of the Book of Knowledge by Kansas Protestant fanatics in Jewell county because it discussed evolution. The Jewell county incident was " a sample of what you may expect should the church succeed in its effort to get control of the educational interests of the country. No need to look at the action of the Tennessee anti-evolution mountaineers for evidence of sixteenth century intolerance and attempt [s] to make men good by making them ignorant." [9]

     Doster was especially sensitive to assaults on evolutionary theory because he based his views on social, spiritual, and material betterment on the concept of eternal change. He recognized some absolutes&endash;the "timeless verities" such as freedom, mercy, and love&endash;and he acknowledged that truth existed in a "universal cosmic sense." But for the most part he believed that the "truths" men held were dynamic, ever-changing, and relative. Truth consisted "not in the establishment of fact, but in the exclusion of error." All religious creeds, political doctrines, and scientific laws were the "discards of past errors." The world, however, was better for all these transitory truths, "not as arrivals at final truth but as the leaving off of hindering fallacies."

     Men must accept change because the grand design of the universe was constant evolution towards good. This was demonstrable by looking at the various stages of society through which mankind had passed: from Java man (who "overcame the female and then slunk away leaving his offspring to the rude and transient care of the mother") to the family, community, tribe, and nation. As society progressed from the patriarchal to the priestly, feudal, monarchial, and democratic forms, each step brought "more of the essential elements of unity, freedom, and equality." The increased freedom of thought was especially important in the evolutionary process because of the material and social improvements which resulted.

     Freedom of man to think as he would has transformed the domains of science, government, and theology, and has begun to attack the entrenched and fortified field of economics. And what transformations in the man himself since he began to think! He lives now as the high priests and princes did not in older times. He has a clearer eye, a keener mind, a higher conception of the purpose and obligations of life. He sails the seas in a palace and travels the continent in coaches of luxury a mile a minute and flies the air faster than a bird. He sends his thought on a lightning flash around the globe, and in an incomplete experimental way, but one prophetic of future certainty, through the device called television he talks to his friend on the other hemisphere the while looking at him as though face to face; and recently two deaf mutes conversed with each other a mile apart in the finger sign language. He listens to speech and music a thousand miles away. He looks at the stars through infinity of space and analyzes their elements and calculates the speed of their light. He has unseated kings from their thrones and established himself as ruler instead, has abolished slavery the world over, and year by year is emancipating labor from unrequited toil. Of late, more than ever before, he has accelerated his upward way by the development out of his emotional nature of the qualities of sympathy for his fellows and tolerance of their beliefs.

     Doster's tone in this address was not entirely optimistic because the great depression had set in and he expressed his concern for jobless workers, many of whom had been thrown out of work by the very technology he was praising. He rejected the view that the machine which displaced humans was the end product of evolution. "I deny that economic evolution ends there or has in view that purpose. I believe I know . . . such end or purpose is good to the whole of mankind and not alone to those of that class whom gentlemen approvingly term rugged individuals." [10]

     Important also to Doster was the unity and fraternity brought about by the process of social evolution. On Memorial Day of 1929 he returned to Marion where in an address to his former townsmen he expressed his belief that the Civil War was necessary because "God wills that men do not draw apart from one another, but that they draw nearer." Territorial expansion brought a greater degree of democracy. Political fragmentation in Europe sustained monarchy: "Every petty princeling had to be provided with a little bailiwick to rule, to set off in exclusiveness to others of like kind, out of which grew concepts of self interest and differences in language and religion, and these bred rivalries, and wars, and heavy burdens and constant shedding of blood." The opposite was true in the American experience because the policy of expansion resulted in homogeneity and unity. Secession would have Europeanized America politically and retarded democracy. He did not believe that territorial growth in itself was the aim of government. Rather he wanted to show that expansion of national boundaries was "the means by which the spirit of fraternity and good will among men works out the destiny of mankind to dwell together in amity and peace."

     In the Marion speech, he took his thinking to its logical conclusion with a full blown plea for internationalism: "[N]ations, to play their full part and fulfill their destiny, have got to think big; to think across continents; think in terms of hemispheres; in terms of leagues of nations, and see Tennyson's vision, 'The parliament of man, the federation of the world.'" [11]

     Doster's thoughts in 1929 were essentially the same as those of his earlier career. He had always believed men were destined to achieve unity and that war was often necessary to advance the process. In his last years, however, he stressed brotherhood, peace and love; the worship of war for its own sake, which had formerly appeared in his remarks, was absent. The Frank Doster of the 1920's was a much mellower man than the Populist spellbinder of the 1890's. No longer did associates and opponents find him cold, vindictive, and vicious. Topeka journalist Thomas A. McNeal described Doster in his last years as a man whose expressionless face belied his tolerance, generosity, kindness, and humor. [12]

     Although he did not seriously seek office in his later life he was a steadfast Democrat. When the state's Republican attorney general charged Democratic Gov. Jonathan M. Davis and Bank Commissioner Carl J. Peterson of selling pardons, old Populist A. M. Harvey, Doster, and his partner John Addington served as their counselors at the trials. Davis faced two trials, both of them after he left office, and the Juries voted acquittal each time. [13]

     Doster was not enough of a loyal partisan to refrain from condemning both parties as nothing more than "commercial syndicates" organized for the monetary advantage of their members. Both were prepared to assume false and hypocritical positions. In an address before the Fourth District Federation of Women's Clubs, Doster assailed the Democrats for pretending to be friendly to prohibition. Worse still was the states'-rights cry of the Republicans in opposing the child-labor amendment. They were deserting the party's traditional hostility to the principle in order that "New England with its factory system, New York with its sweat shops, Pennsylvania with its coal mines, Virginia with its tobacco works, Georgia and the Carolinas with their cotton mills, might hold the tender bodies and youthful minds of children to the bondage of profit making for others."

     No political party had made America a powerful and respected nation: rather the American genius for good government, operating through individual liberty and responsibility, had raised the United States to a world power. Doster rejected also the notion of the virtue of the majority. Minority parties, after becoming majorities, had impeded freedom and progress. In the early days of the republic the Democratic party fought for the liberty of the white man and after attaining power it had "steeled its heart against the enormity of the black man's slavery, and, even now yields only a nominal and grudging assent to the constitutional guaranties of the black mans independence and civil equality." Likewise, the Republicans rose from minority status in their fight against slavery only to let both white and black workers become "serfs of an economic mastery as pitiless as that of the slave driver of the South." No political party was capable or courageous enough to embrace more than one idea at one time. Both major parties, for example, resisted woman's suffrage when the Populists and Socialists advocated it and adopted it only when it seemed expedient. The aged judge asserted that opposition to social change was futile and told his female audience that "The freedom of bobbed hair and short skirts is coming in government too, as well as in dress and style." [14]

     Late in the decade Doster reached a wider audience for his views. Now that prohibition was a national fact of life, he wrote two articles against it for Plain Talk, a liberal journal with nation-wide circulation. In both articles he acknowledged that he had voted for it in Kansas in 1880, but pleaded youth and immaturity of judgment. He was not a drinking man, he wrote, and therefore had no personal interest in repeal. Prohibition was "a mere spasmodic craze," the "latest of many recurrent aberrations of like kind." He gave a blanket condemnation of all sumptuary legislation and pointed out the futility of past attempts to regulate personal conduct by law. "Moral legislation almost inevitably brings not reform but corruption." To those who said that the drunkard beat his wife and used the children's bread money for liquor, Doster answered that such injuries to other persons were punishable by law. To those who argued that drinking lowered the moral tone of a society, he replied that this was the identical reason used by tyrants and priests in suppressing freedom of opinion and religion. His opposition to prohibition, Doster wrote, would be milder had the churches not advocated it. "When it is recalled that the Church has never stood for a big brave principle of human freedom . . . we may well fear it in its avowed and special championship of liquor suppression." [15]

     Although Doster was a socialist in theory rather than by political affiliation, his collectivist thinking became more pronounced as he grew older. Upon the death of Eugene V. Debs in 1926, Doster delivered a eulogy to the nation's foremost socialist and reiterated Debs' cry that "the wages system must go." [16] As the great depression set in he became even more vocal in his advocacy of a radical change in the economic system. In November of 1931 the Unitarians of Topeka sponsored an open forum to discuss the relative merits of communism, socialism, and capitalism. Doster began the series with an exposition of communism. Sociologist C. D. Clark of the University of Kansas offered an explanation of socialism; and a defense of capitalism by D. J. Teviotdale, also of the university, concluded the forum.

     True to his old form, Doster began his address with a startling pronouncement: "I am a communist in economic belief." He then told his listeners that the statement should not set them against him because their notions of communism were probably false. It did not mean the division and equal distribution of the world's produce. Rather it was "a system under which men do not live by economic warfare with one another, but by mutual helpfulness to one another. It means God's plan of living with one another instead of off one another." The simplest way to hasten the realization of the divine plan was through socialization of the utilities "clothed with a public interest." "Now," he asked, "tell me what there is in economic life today that is not clothed with a public interest."

     In answer to those who believed economic warfare to be man's natural behavior, Doster asserted the contrary, that "the history of mankind is the history of progression towards associated property interest and equality of economic conditions." Examples of the tendency to share goods and services in common were public schools, highways, and the postal system. Contrary to the usual assumption, the history of mankind was "the story of common effort to attain the things of common good." Even warfare was a communal undertaking; although "it is selfish and competitive strife&endash;still it is not individual effort and the conquerors have communal betterment in view." The foremost modern examples of communism were the business corporations. "[I]t matters not that they are predatory in character and practice. The point is&endash;the individuals composing them have ceased economic strife among themselves, have pooled their property, have united their efforts, have socialized their interests, have communized themselves as it were, and have become, thereby, prophetic of the universal communism to come."

     Replying to the argument that communism would destroy incentive, Doster told his audience that the only incentive in capitalism was for selfish or vainglorious ends. Communism, on the other hand, would inspire individual initiative for the benefit of the whole. Even in a capitalistic society great inventors, statesmen, teachers, and philosophers worked without hope of financial or other personal gain. Communism would encourage rather than destroy such initiative.

     Attacking capitalism head on, Doster decried the waste inherent in the system: overproduction, advertising, which added nothing to the value of products yet cost billions; insurance, to protect "against the frauds and felonies of your fellows"; and the expense for police, courts, lawyers, and legislation which existed "merely to safeguard the interests of private property." The old lawyer insisted that "nearly all the law on the statute books and in the decisions of the courts is law for the purpose of checking, controlling, punishing, the fraudulent and criminal efforts of men to possess themselves of other men's estates. There is scarcely a wickedness in the daily list of crimes but it consists in, or can be traced to the desire and effort of men to advantage themselves of other men's property." Both government and the churches, he claimed, existed solely for mitigating the crimes of the other man-made institution, property.

     In closing Doster pleaded with those present

     to study whether strife for property gain is really the divinely ordained plan and destiny of the race. Let's quit lying about Russia; quit the unmanly breaking up of little communist children's picnics on the sham pretext to their being plots of treason against the state; quit paying a half million dollars for a ten thousand dollar a year office, expecting to recoup the overpayment by plunder and graft; quit official boodling; quit stealing; quit practicing petty frauds on one another and calling it "business." Let's accept . . . God's plan of living with one another, and not off one another.

     The press and public received Doster's call for collectivism without adverse comment. Topekans and other Kansans were willing to tolerate the well-known heterodoxy of an otherwise respectable old man. But when young sociologist C. D. Clark gave what he intended to be an objective analysis of socialism the newspaper reports gave the impression that he was praising it. The resultant furor nearly cost him his position at the state university. [17]

     Doster's "communism" was of course far from Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy. In a 1932 letter to an old comrade of the Populist days, however, he expressed his sympathy with the attempts of the Russian people to establish a society free from "the savage competitive strife we wage." He admitted that the Soviet government was guilty of ruthlessness, but pointed out that democracy and Christianity had also waged war and revolution in gaining acceptance. [18]

     Although he condemned capitalism as vicious and outmoded, he confessed in another address that he participated in the system as an unwilling victim, compelled by necessity to operate within the existing economic framework. He did not therefore claim to be any purer than his fellows; he was only perhaps more aware of "the enormity of the frauds and crimes which go to make up the present day economic life." [19]

     Doster delivered his last significant public address on February 4, 1933, three weeks before his death. The Topeka bar association held a memorial meeting for the recently deceased Patrick Coney, a pension lawyer and old Republican wheelhorse. His passing left Doster as the only Civil War veteran in the association. Having recently risen from a sick bed, the weak and trembling octogenarian began his speech with a few remarks on Coney's career as an attorney. He then moved to an explanation of the Civil War. The war had been waged for the benefit of all mankind because the Union stood for a self-governing republic wherein the people resolved their differences by friendly, democratic means. Secession would have meant the division of the country into hostile factions. It would have been the admission that men could not live together in brotherhood and that the common man was not fit to rule. If secession had been successful it "would have set back the hopes of the common man and lengthened the lease of kings for centuries to come." So far Doster's words were eloquent but familiar. He closed, however, with what may have been a confession about his own fascination with warfare. He was no doubt speaking of himself when he told of "boys like Pat Coney who, moved more by love of adventure and inspired more by the music of the bugle and drum than sober reflection that stayed the baleful retrogression of world thought which the success of the South would have brought about. And it is not strange that in later years when they begin to see the sun go down and the shadows lengthen, a sense of what the war was fought for, and what it meant comes home to them as never before and the cause they served assumes a sacredness of aspect and looms the largest in their memories." So touched were his colleagues that they voted to hang a framed copy of Doster's speech in the county court room. [20]

     Although he had retired from active practice well before his death, Doster often served as counselor for those too poor to pay for legal services. He was also active in Topeka's Lincoln Post of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was its quartermaster until shortly before his death. During the last week of his life he put aside his usual reticence and, according to a Topeka newspaper, "mingled enthusiastically" at the annual Democratic banquet at the Jayhawk Hotel. [21]

     Doster, the last of the important leaders of Kansas Populism still residing in the state, died while serving a reform cause. On February 24, 1933, he was seated at the desk of his nephew, John Riddle, in the chamber of the Kansas house of representatives. He suffered a stroke while helping Riddle draft a bill to modify the term of land tenancy contracts. The following day, Frank Doster, at the age of 86, was dead.

     It was ironic that Doster passed away while promoting a tangible reform measure. He was more comfortable in the realms of theory and abstractions. His was the province of ideas rather than direct action. Nevertheless, even in his last years, he was a significant figure. While it would be difficult to evaluate his influence in keeping reform sentiment alive in Kansas during the 1920's, his public statements indicate that liberalism was far from extinct.

Michael J. Brodhead, a native of Abilene, received B. A. and M. A. degrees from the University of Kansas, and his Ph. D. degree from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Subsequently he was in charge of the Kansas collection at the Kansas University library. Currently he is assistant professor of history at the University of Nevada in Reno. He presented this paper at a meeting of the Kansas History Teachers Association in Wichita on March 4, 1967.

1. Doster to the editor of the Topeka Daily Capital, August 13, 1923, and to the editor of the Topeka State Journal, August 14, 1924, "Doster Mss," University of Kansas Library.

2. Doster, "Some Bad Decisions," Kansas City Bar Bulletin, March, 1925, pp. 4-10; "Address Delivered by Judge Frank Doster Before the Topeka Bar Association" (n. d.), "Doster Mss"; "Address Delivered by Judge Frank Doster Before the Bar Association of Wichita, Kansas, on the 20th Day of October, 1928," "Doster Mss."

3. Report of the Commission to Revise the General Statutes (Topeka, 1922), pp. 8, 287-293; Supplement to the Report (December 22) of the Commission to Revise the General Statutes (Topeka, 1923), pp 27-29.

4. Bar Association of the State of Kansas, Proceedings, Forty-sixth Annual Meeting . . . 1928, pp. 55, 56.

5. Ibid., Forty-fifth Annual Meeting . . . 1927, pp. 106-114.

6. Taft to Smith, July 28, 1922, "Doster Mss."

7. The Future Life: Address of Frank Doster, Former Chief Justice Supreme Court, Kansas, Before the Unitarian Churches of Topeka and Salina, Kansas (Topeka, ca. 1922), pp. 3-6, 8, 9, 11-13, 16, 18.

8. Topeka Daily Capital, December 13 and 14, 1925; Doster, "My Belief in Jesus" (1925), "Doster Mss."

9. Doster to the editor of the Topeka Daily Capital (n. d.), "Doster Mss."; "The Law of Religious Instruction in the Public Schools" (1926), "Doster Mss."

10. Doster, "Evolution Makes for Good," undated address, "Doster Mss."

11. Doster, "Memorial Day Address Delivered at Marion, Kansas, May 30, 1929," "Doster Mss."

12. Topeka Daily Capital, February 26, 1933.

13. John W. Ripley, "Chronology of Events -- Pertinent and Impertinent -- of the Jonathan M. Davis Bribery Trials," Bulletin of the Shawnee County Historical Society, Topeka, December, 1965, pp. 57-59; Topeka Daily Capital, January 13, 23, May 19, 1925.

14. "4th Dist. Federation of Women's Clubs, Delivered at Council Grove, Kansas, by Judge Frank Doster 10-21-26," "Doster Mss."

15. Doster, "Prohibition Craze," Plain Talk, New York, November, 1927, pp. 27-31; "Kansas Puritanism and Prohibition, ibid., July, 1928, pp. 22, 24, 25.

16. Doster, "Eugene V. Debs" (1928), "Doster Mss."

17. University Daily Kansan, Lawrence, November 16, 1931; Topeka Daily Capital, November 1, 2, 1931; Doster, "Communism -- What Is It and Why" (1931), "Doster Mss." Three letters in the possession of C. D. Clark give the story of his difficulties: E. H. Lindley to Clark, November 16, 1931; C. M. Harger to Clark, December 3, 1931; Clark to Harger, December 10, 1931.

18. Doster to "Mr. Emmons," June 4, 1932, "Doster Mss."

19. Untitled, undated address, ca. 1925, "Doster Mss."

20. Topeka Daily Capital, February 14, 1933; Journal of the Bar Association of the State of Kansas, Wichita, v. 1 (May, 1933), p. 319.

21. Grand Army of the Republic, Headquarters Department of Kansas, General Orders No. 5, Wardell Administration, Series 1932-1933 (Topeka, 1933); Topeka State Journal, February 25, 1933.

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