Ralston is father of state parks, primaries, utility commission


Democrat Samuel M. Ralston served as Indiana’s governor from 1913-1917, during an era when governors were not allowed to seek re-election. Ralston, who oversaw the state’s 100th birthday celebration, was responsible for creating a state parks system, a public service commission to regulate utilities, a vocational education act, a child-labor law, an inheritance tax, a tenement housing act, a statewide primary system and a worker’s compensation system. He is also credited with retiring the state’s debt and leaving office with a $4 million surplus. In this photo taken March 5, 1915, Ralston is working at his desk in the governor’s office—the same office Gov. Eric Holcomb uses today—during a budget-writing session of the Legislature.

Sources: Indiana Historical Society, “The Centennial History of the Indiana General Assembly” by Justin Walsh

Credit: The photo is courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society and is part of the W.H. Bass Photo Co. collection. More images are available at images.indianahistory.org.   

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