Legislative duo a first since 1863
Abraham Lincoln was President the last time Baldwin City had both a Senator and member of the House of Representatives serving in Topeka. That was 1863.
In 1863, Wilbur Woodworth was the Kansas Senator from the 9th District and John Vaughn was the 37th District House of Representative. Both hailed from Baldwin City, which was only years old. Baker University was only five years old. The Battle of Black Jack — the first armed skirmish of what was now the Civil War — was still fresh in the memories of residents from 1856.
When Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, won the 3rd District Senate seat and Tony Brown won the 10th District House seat on Nov. 4, they became the first Baldwin City duo in those positions in 135 years.
“I thought it was sort of unique,” said Carolyn Campbell, a secretary to Sen. Anthony Hensley who Holland asked to check into it. “It was real interesting that it was the late 1860s the last time Baldwin City was so prominent.”
Campbell, who was just elected to the State Board of Education, checked with the Kansas State Library to see when the last time Baldwin City had such a pair. She relayed that to Holland and Brown, who were pleased with the news.
“It’s nice to be a part of history,” said Brown. “For Tom and me, it’s satisfying because we’re friends and we both won our elections. I think it’s equally as important for the Baldwin City community because it has been so long since it has been represented in both the House and Senate.”
Holland said it wasn’t by plan.
“I think it’s an interesting coincidence, if nothing else,” he said. “I think it’s good for Baldwin City to have representatives in both chambers and we’ll do good things for the citizens of our districts.”
“I think a lot of it is coincidental,” said Brown. “It’s nice to have it happen after all these years, but I don’t think it’s anything profound. It’s a totally different world. I wouldn’t even venture to draw any parallels. Now the circumstances are totally different. I’m not sure there are any connections.”
Just coincidence that President Lincoln was from Illinois, just like President-elect Barack Obama? At first blush, both Holland and Brown passed that oddity off.
“I guess I look at that as more a coincidence than anything else,” said Holland.
That was Brown’s initial reaction, but then he took it another step.
“If there’s anything that’s a link, it seems like in both these eras it’s a time of great change,” said Brown. “I think future generations will look back at this election and think it was a land-mark year.”