Mike Worcester "The Black Eagle Comes To Cokato." In The Midst Of, Cokato Historical Society (February, 2017) vol. 37 no. 1.
Each fall, from 1903 through 1915, the Cokato Street Fair took place. We have written about those before. We also have two files of images from those events. One of those images came to us in July 1996. It was an undated postcard view of a speaker at one of the fairs. The image, seen be-low, showed how community events in those days functioned. The caption reads: “SPEECH, BY, SEN. M.E. CLAPP, “COKATO FAIR” COKATO MINN.”
Questionable punctuation aside, the caption was intriguing as the author of this article, despite think-ing he had extensive knowledge of Minnesota political history, had never heard of Senator M. E. Clapp. Thankfully there was a copy of the Minnesota Legislative Manual nearby (it was 1996, no Internet yet) and sure enough, there he was — “Moses E. Clapp, Republican: January 23, 1901 to March 4, 1917”.
Born in Delphi, Indiana on May 21, 1851, Clapp and his family moved to Wisconsin at an early age, where he graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1873. In 1882, he moved to Fergus Falls to establish a legal practice. His legal and oratorical skills did not go unnoticed, and friends of legendary Minnesota Senator Knute Nelson, worked to secure Clapp as the Republican nominee for Attorney General of Minnesota in the 1886 election. One of the candidates Clapp best-ed for the nomination was Frank B. Kellogg (remember that name).
After three terms in the A.G.’s office — terms in those days were two years, not four — Clapp moved back into private practice, this time in St. Paul. His eloquence kept him busy on the Republican speaking circuit, and he stood for nomination for governor in 1896, but was not successful.
Five years later, U.S. Senator Cushman Davis died in office, presenting another opportunity for Clapp.
How U.S. senators were chosen at the time is quite different from the modern era. As proscribed in Article I, Section III of the U.S. Constitution, Senators were to be chosen by the legislatures of each state. When a vacancy came due, the majority caucus of the legislature would choose their candi-date. As such, the Republican caucus in the met to fill out the remainder of Davis’s term. Out of six hopefuls for the office, Clapp was chosen and began is service on January 23, 1901.
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