Open main menu

History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/Albert B. Cummins

ALBERT B. CUMMINS, seventeenth Governor of Iowa, was born in Greene County, Pennsylvania, February 15, 1850. He acquired a good education, attending Waynesburg College. In 1869 he came to Iowa and secured a position in the recorder's office of Clayton County at Elkader. Later he became a civil engineer and was engaged in the location and construction of the Richmond & Fort Wayne Railroad in Indiana. He studied law and in 1875 was admitted to the bar and began practice in Chicago. In January, 1878, he located at Des Moines, and in 1881 entered into partnership with Judge George G. Wright and his son Thomas S. Wright. Soon after he entered the firm he was placed in charge of the litigation known as the barb wire conflict. The farmers of Iowa had organized the Protective Association to resist the exorbitant demands of the Washburn and Moen syndicate which had purchased many patents and sought to control the manufacture and fix the price of all wire fencing. Mr. Cummins was employed by the Farmers' Protective Association to fight the monopoly in the courts. The contest lasted several years. Mr. Cummins was obliged to meet the ablest patent lawyers in the country and equipped himself by a thorough study of patent law and decisions. To the surprise of the syndicate, its lawyers found the young Des Moines attorney a match for them on every point raised. In the end the monopoly was broken and Mr. Cummins had acquired State wide reputation as one of its ablest lawyers. In 1887 he was an independent candidate for Representative in the Twenty-second General Assembly and was elected over the Republican candidate. In 1892 he presided over the Republican State Convention and was chosen as one of the Presidential Electors on the Republican ticket. He was twice a candidate for United States Senator against Ex-Governor John H. Gear but was not successful. In 1896 he was President of the Republican State Convention and one of the Delegates to the National Convention. He served in the Presidential campaign as a member of the National Republican Committee. In 1901 he was nominated, after a notable contest, as the Republican candidate for Governor of the State and elected by a large majority.