Leslie Mortier Shaw
- Born: 02 Nov 1848, Morristown, Lamoille, Vermont, United States 1
- Marriage: Alice Crawshaw
- Died: 28 Mar 1932, Washington, District of Columbia, District of Colombia, United States at age 83 2
Leslie Mortier Shaw was a statesman in the larger sense of the word—not merely a politician. He was not a perennial office seeker. Indeed, he was a candidate for only two elective offices--local school director and Governor of the State. Yet he was responsive to public needs, and efficient in the administration of public affairs. Because of these facts he was a successful Governor, and was later selected and appointed Secretary of the Treasury in the cabinet of President Theodore Roosevelt.
Like Ansel Briggs, the first State Governor of Iowa, Shaw was a native of Vermont, where he was born in 1848. His youthful ambition was to become a western landowner. After graduating from the People's Academy at Morrisville in his native State, he taught school to obtain funds with which to come to Iowa in 1869. Two years later he entered Cornell College, where after supporting himself by farm labor, school teaching, and selling fruit trees, he was graduated in the class of 1874. Meanwhile, he developed an interest in the study of law, and in 1876 he completed the course at the Iowa College of Law at Des Moines, and began the practice of his profession at Denison in Crawford County.
At first Mr. Shaw's legal practice yielded him only small returns, and it is rumored that the young attorney continued to sell fruit trees to pay office expenses. Howbeit, this was a temporary measure, for Shaw had visions of a better day. Observing that money was scarce in Crawford County, and that the farmers needed funds with which to operate their farms, young Shaw conceived the idea of starting a bank. For capital funds he returned to Vermont and induced citizens of the Green Mountain State to invest money in Iowa. This proved to be a profitable venture not only for the capitalists of Vermont, but for the farmers, and for Mr. Shaw, himself, for he was a good banker.
As a young man Shaw was socially minded. He was interested in education, was a member of the school board in Denison, and a faithful worker in the Methodist Church and Sunday School. But it was not until 1896, when Mr. Shaw was forty-eight years of age, that he first became active in politics. In that year William Jennings Bryan lectured at Denison on his favorite subject, the "Free Coinage of Silver." Mr. Shaw did not approve of Mr. Bryan's policies, and at a meeting of business men a little later, he presented his own views on the money question. So ably was this matter presented that Shaw soon came to be a popular campaign speaker, and in 1897 he was nominated for the office of Governor of the State.
As Governor, Mr. Shaw was widely recognized for his ability in the field of public finance. In 1900 he was invited to Washington, D. C, to speak at the observance of the one hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the seat of Federal Government there. In his audience on that occasion were the President and members of his cabinet, members of Congress, the federal judiciary, the governors of many states "and a great concourse of citizens and visitors." The speech, dealing largely with finance, was a logical and eloquent one. It drew from President McKinley the remark that "he had never found a man who could crystallize statistics into poetry."
Again, in 1900, when Theodore Roosevelt was campaigning in Nebraska for the office of Vice-President, he made a brief speech and retired from the platform, presumably having gone to the railroad station, leaving Governor Shaw to address the assemblage. Mr. Shaw presented his subject in an able manner and was loudly applauded by his hearers. To his surprise, Colonel Roosevelt had remained in his carriage and heard the entire speech. At the close of the meeting Mr. Roosevelt congratulated the speaker in these words: "Governor, that was a masterly presentation of the financial question. It throws a flood of light where light is needed. I want to thank you for it." A few months later, when Mr. Roosevelt succeeded to the presidency, he invited Mr. Shaw to become Secretary of the Treasury.
As lawyer, banker, Governor, and cabinet member Mr. Shaw exhibited rare ability and loyalty to public service. He died at Washington, D. C., March 28, 1932, in his eighty-fourth year. 3
Noted events in his life were:
• Education: and received a BS and MS degrees from Cornell College, 1898, Mount Vernon, Linn, Iowa, United States.
• Election: Governor, State of Iowa, 1898, Des Moines, Polk, Iowa, United States. 4
• Employment: Secretary of The Treasury, 01 Feb 1902, Washington, District of Columbia, District of Colombia, United States. 5
Leslie married Alice Crawshaw, daughter of James Crawshaw and Dorothy Dunn. (Alice Crawshaw was born in 1848 in Camanche, Clinton, Iowa, United States 6.)