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The Ralph Carr Story

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Ralph Carr was born in the small mining town of Rosita, Colorado on December 11, 1887. He described his father as a miner and tinhorn gambler, never expressing which of the two professions he admired more. He worked his way through college and law school at the University of Colorado, writing for the school paper in the process. He met his first wife, Gretchen, in Boulder, and the two married shortly after his graduation.

He grew up in Cripple Creek andVictor and would be a journalist and a lawyer for a number of years, landing in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, in the tiny town of Antonito. He earned a reputation as the state’s pre-eminent water rights attorney and was tapped to serve as the state’s U.S. Attorney by President Hoover in the middle of Prohibition. He, Gretchen, and their two adopted children moved to Denver and after, FDR became president, Carr went into private practice.

He was drafted to run for governor in 1938 even though he tried everything he could think of to get out of the candidacy. Yet, he won overwhelmingly and quickly rose to national fame as a budget balancer and humanitarian. He turned down the chance to run as a vice presidential candidate with Wendell Willkie in 1940, running for re-election as governor and winning overwhelmingly.

Carr continued to have a national profile, traveling to Michigan, California, Texas and New York to preach his philosophy of limited government to whomever would listen. That profile however crashed after Pearl Harbor when Carr defended the Constitutional rights of Japanese-Americans. He told crowds, if we “imprison American citizens without evidence or a trial, what’s to say six months from now, we won’t follow them into that same prison without evidence or a trial.”

He would challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Ed Johnson in November, 1942 and lose one of the closest races in Colorado history. He blamed the loss on his support of Japanese-Americans.

Carr went back to practicing law before being drafted to run for governor again in 1950. He won the Republican primary overwhelmingly, but died only a few days later, never having the opportunity to be vindicated in the eyes of Colorado. He was 62 years old.

The Governor Ralph L. Carr Collection at the Colorado State Archives

Ralph Carr's Lonely Stand

Ralph Lawrence Carr on Wikipedia


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