William Justus Goebel served as the 34th Governor of Kentucky for four days in 1900. He was mortally wounded by an assassin the day before he was sworn in. He remains the only state governor in the U.S. to be assassinated while in office. The identity of his assassin remains unknown.
About William Goebel in brief
William Justus Goebel served as the 34th Governor of Kentucky for four days in 1900. He was mortally wounded by an assassin the day before he was sworn in. He remains the only state governor in the U.S. to be assassinated while in office. His abrasive personality made him many political enemies, but his championing of populist causes, like railroad regulation, also won him many allies and supporters. Everyone charged in connection with the murder was either acquitted or eventually pardoned, and the identity of his assassin remains unknown. His physical features bespoke his taciturn nature. He never married and was rarely linked romantically with a woman, and is the only governor of Kentucky who never married. While lacking in the social qualities common to politicians, one characteristic served him well in the political arena – his intellect. His political party, the Union Labor party, had risen to power in the area with a platform similar to Goebal’s. He took aim at a popular target: former senator James W. Bryan, who was running for re-election before a re- election bid. Goeble won the election by a mere fifty-six votes in favor of a Union Labor Party candidate, but decided to distinguish himself before the next election by running as a Democrat. His platform of railroad regulation and championing labor causes, combined with the influence of his former partner, should have given him an easy victory, but this was not to be the case.
He became the first Democrat to lose a gubernatorial election in Kentucky since 1871. He died of a heart attack in 1901, and was buried in a Covington, Kentucky, cemetery. He is survived by his wife, two children, and a step-granddaughter. He had a son and two step-great-grandchildren, all of whom were born in Kentucky. His great-grandson is the current governor of the state, current Gov. William S. Taylor, who is also known as “Bill the Conqueror” and “King William I” The last of the Goebels to die in office was his son-in-law, John W. Stevenson, who served as governor from 1871 to 1877. He also had a daughter, Mary, who became a prominent Kentucky philanthropist and later a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives. The Goebles had four children, two of whom died in childhood. He lived in Kentucky with his wife and one daughter, who later died in a car accident. He left Kentucky to live in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was a partner in a law firm and later became the executor of his father’s estate. He went on to become a prominent lawyer in Cincinnati and later served as a Kentucky state representative. His nickname was “Boss Bill” and he was known for using the state’s political machinery to advance his personal agenda. He spoke only German until the age of six, but embraced the culture of his birth country as well, adopting the English spelling of his given name.