Birthday: September 9, 1887
Died At Age: 100
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Alfred Mossman Landon
Born in: Pennsylvania
Famous as: Governor of Kansas
political ideology: Republican
Spouse/Ex-: Margaret Fleming, Theo Cobb
father: John Manuel Landon
mother: Anne Mossman Landon
children: John, Margaret Ann Mills, Nancy Kassebaum
Died on: October 12, 1987
place of death: Topeka
U.S. State: Pennsylvania
education: University of Kansas
Alf Landon was an American Republican politician, who became the 26th Governor of Kansas. He was one of the most influential political personalities and a powerful leader but ironically, he is mostly remembered for his crushing defeat against Franklin Roosevelt in the presidential election of 1936. Politics was not his first choice and it was quite later in life that he decided to pursue a career in politics. He graduated from a law school, got into oil business and went on to become a millionaire. It was a convention he attended which shaped his political thinking and he decided to join the Republican Party. He started off as a campaigner for the party and it was through his sheer determination that he went on to become the Governor of Kansas twice in his life. He was considered as the strongest nominee from his party to contest for the 1936 presidential elections against Franklin Roosevelt. But he faced a heavy defeat against his competitor, for whom he had very high regards as the leader of a nation, and afterwards decided not to seek elected office again. During his later years he remained quite active in sharing his views on numerous political issues until his death.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on September 9, 1887 in his maternal grandfather's residence in West Middlesex, Pennsylvania, U.S.A to John Manuel Landon, an oil prospector and promoter in the Pennsylvania fields and his wife, Anne Mossman.
He spent his childhood in Ohio and received his early education from Marrietta Academy, Ohio. His family moved to Kansas when he was 17.
He enrolled at the University of Kansas and graduated with a law degree in 1908. Initially, he tried his luck in the field of banking but later entered the oil business in 1912 and became an independent and successful petroleum producer in Kansas.
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In 1912, he attended the Bull Moose convention held in Chicago, where his father was a delegate. The Progressive Party, formed after the split of Republican Party, announced Theodore Roosevelt as their candidate for the presidential election in the conference and his interaction with some of the party leaders moved him to pursue a career in politics.
He joined the Republican Party and campaigned for Theodore Roosevelt. He proposed various events related to women's suffrage, antitrust legislation, and the prohibition of child labor.
He also served in the Army as a first lieutenant in World War I. He received a commission in the chemical warfare corps but was still in training at Lakewood, N.J., when the Armistice was signed.
In 1928, he became the chairman of the Republican state central committee and delivered the largest percentage of any state in the nation for Herbert Hoover's election victory.
By the year 1929, his oil business had made him a millionaire. He helped in establishing the ‘Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association’, a petroleum lobbying organization.
In 1932, he contested for the seat of Governor of Kansas and won the election. He became an important figure of the Republican Party and was re-elected as the Governor in 1934.
In 1936, he was chosen as the presidential candidate of the Republican Party, against the incumbent President Franklin Roosevelt of the Democratic Party. Roosevelt handed Landon the most crushing defeat in the U.S presidential elections history.
In the presidential elections Landon got only 8 electoral votes as against Roosevelt's got 523 electoral votes. Landon won only two states, Maine and Vermont, and lost in his home state of Kansas too. Even though he lost to Roosevelt, he had tremendous respect and admiration for him. He was sure of America’s future under Roosevelt’s leadership, accepting much of the New Deal but objected that it was hostile to business and involved too much waste.
After the elections, Landon went back to Kansas and completed his tenure as the Governor in 1937. He did not run for an elected office again. In the later years, he actively participated in various political issues from the Republican Party as a leader and adviser.
Awards & Achievements
In 1934, he was re-elected as the Governor of Kansas. He was the only Republican governor to be re-elected that year.
The state of Kansas dedicated the Landon State Office Building in his honor after his death.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Margaret Fleming on January 9, 1915 and they were blessed with a daughter, Margaret Anne. Unfortunately, his wife died in 1918.
He married Theo Cobb in 1930. They had two children, Nancy and John. His daughter, Nancy, also became a successful politician and represented the State of Kansas in the United States Senate from 1978 to 1996.
The President Ronald Reagan and the First Lady Nancy Davis Reagan personally visited him on his 100th birthday and extended their heartfelt wishes to him.
He died on October 12, 1987 in Topeka, Kansas and is interred at Mount Hope Cemetery, Topeka in Shawnee County, Kansas. He was survived by his ten grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.