Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor

Capper, Arthur (1865-1951)

Publisher of agricultural journals, governor of Kansas, longtime U.S. senator from Kansas, and philanthropist Arthur Capper was born in Garnett, Kansas, on July 14, 1865. In 1884, after high school graduation, Capper moved to Topeka, where he found employment with the Topeka Capital and became a leading reporter. He married Florence Crawford, only daughter of the third Kansas governor. They had no children. Acquiring his first weekly newspaper in 1893, Capper consolidated it with others, forming the Mail and Breeze. In 1900 he acquired a monthly agricultural journal. In 1901 he added the Topeka Capital and its Weekly Capital. Vigorous in increasing the circulation and advertising revenues of all his journals, Capper gained wealth rapidly. He built a five-story plant across the street from the capitol in Topeka and an elaborate mansion nearby.

While some of his publications had a general audience, Capper was best known for his agricultural journals, such as the monthly Missouri Valley Farmer (known later as Capper's Farmer) and the Farmer's Mail and Breeze, which acquired the Kansas Farmer and assumed that name. In 1910 he purchased the Missouri Ruralist, and for a time he owned Nebraska and Oklahoma farm papers as well as one covering the Rockies. He became partial owner of leading farm papers published in Cleveland, Ohio. All his other journals were published in Topeka, with editorial offices in the states of circulation: Kansas Farmer, Missouri Ruralist, Ohio Farmer, Michigan Farmer, Pennsylvania Farmer, and Capper's Farmer were all well known as the Capper Farm Press.

In 1912, as a Republican, Capper lost a close race for Kansas governor, but he won in 1914 and 1916. In 1918 he was elected to the first of five terms in the U.S. Senate. He was a conservative and the leader of the Farm Bloc but not an initiator of legislation. When he died on December 19, 1951, his beneficiaries were a surviving sister, leading employees, and the Capper Foundation for Crippled Children.

Homer E. Socolofsky Manhattan, Kansas

Socolofsky, Homer E. Arthur Capper: Publisher, Politician, Philanthropist. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1962.

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