Caleb Powers

Caleb Powers

Williamsburg, Whitley County, Kentucky, USA
Death 25 Jul 1932 (aged 63)
Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, USA
Burial Barbourville, Knox County, Kentucky, USA
Memorial ID 7090934 · View Source
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US Congressman. Elected as a Republican to represent Kentucky's 11th District in the Sixty-Second and three succeeding Congresses, he served from 1911 to 1919. But he is better known for his alleged involvement in the 1900 assassination of Governor William Goebel, for which he spent eight years in prison. Powers was born in Williamsburg, Kentucky. After graduating from Indiana's Valparaiso University and attending West Point (1890 and 1891), he was admitted to the bar in 1894 and set up law practice in Barbourville. From that year to 1899 he was also Knox County's Superintendent of Public Schools. In the bitter state elections of 1899, Powers won a term as Kentucky's Secretary of State under Republican Governor-elect William S. Taylor, but Taylor's victory was successfully disputed by State Senator Goebel, the Democratic opponent. Tensions ran high among the voting public, and Powers inflamed the situation by recruiting between 500 and 1000 armed mountain men from his home district to "protect" Frankfort from the "usurper" Goebel. (Their transportation was provided free by the L & N Railroad, as it was in their interest to keep Taylor in office). On January 30, 1900, Goebel was shot in front of the State Capitol building; he died on February 3, four days after being sworn in as Governor. Three men ultimately stood trial for the murder, including Powers, who was accused of masterminding the plot in an attempt to save Taylor's position (and his own). Although Powers was not in Frankfort on the day of the attack, the prosecution maintained that the fatal shots were fired from the window of his second floor corner office, to which he had given co-defendants Jim Howard (the alleged sniper) and Henry Youtsey access for that purpose. In July 1900 he was convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to life imprisonment. Due to the highly partisan atmosphere surrounding the case, the original verdict was overturned on appeal and he was retried three times (1901, 1903, 1908), resulting in two more convictions and a hung jury. During his incarceration he attempted to clear his name by writing a book, published as "My Own Story" (1908). In June 1908 Powers was pardoned by Governor Augustus E. Willson, who felt that the evidence against him was hopelessly tainted. Upon his release he told reporters "Don't mention politics to me", but in 1910 he won a seat in the US House of Representatives with a campaign that presented him as a wrongfully prosecuted martyr for the Republican Party. Apart from being a delegate to the 1916 Republican National Convention, his Congressional service was low-key. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1918, after which he liked to remark that he served as many years in Congress as he had in prison. Powers settled in Washington DC and was assistant counsel to the US Shipping Board from 1921 until his death.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 17 Jan 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7090934
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Caleb Powers (1 Feb 1869–25 Jul 1932), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7090934, citing Barbourville Cemetery, Barbourville, Knox County, Kentucky, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .