Ralph Carr

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Ralph L. Carr
Portrait of Ralph Carr.jpg
Former Governor of Colorado
From: January 10, 1939 – January 12, 1943
Lieutenant John Charles Vivian
Predecessor Teller Ammons
Successor John Charles Vivian
Party Republican
Spouse(s) Gretchen Fowler
Eleanor Fairall Howe
Religion Christian Scientist

Ralph Lawrence Carr (December 11, 1887 – September 22, 1950) was an attorney and conservative Republican from Colorado who led the opposition to Democrat president Franklin D. Roosevelt's internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. He served as the governor of the state from 1939 to 1943.

Early life and career

Carr was born in Rosita, Colorado, located in Teller County. Being the son of a miner, he worked in mining camps and later for newspapers. Graduating from Cripple Creek High School in 1905, he was the manager of the Victor Daily Record from 1912–1913 and was an editor for the Trinidad Evening Picketwire between 1915 and 1917. Carr was particularly a strong believer in Americanism and American exceptionalism.

After graduating from the University of Colorado, Carr began his career as an attorney, focusing on laws pertaining to the outdoors. He opposed intrusive federal government overreach into state affairs, particularly on issues related to water.

Political career

In 1929, Republican president Herbert Hoover appointed Carr to become the U.S. attorney for the state of Colorado.

Governor of Colorado

Carr ran for governor in 1939 and won the general election, defeating incumbent Democrat Teller Ammons by nearly twenty percentage points.[1] He was re-elected in 1940 to serve for another two years.[2]

Carr opposed much of the New Deal due to its extensive bureaucracy.[3] He single-handedly railed against a congressional proposal in February 1941 which would have created a program similar to the Tennessee Valley Authority.[4] He viewed supporters of the programs as "pseudo-liberals" for their backing of the National Recovery Administration (which was ultimately struck down by the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional), stating:

True liberals were those who consistently follow the proposition that liberty means freedom to exercise individual rights unaffected by external restraint or compulsion.
Carr speaking in 1940.

A fiscal conservative, he eliminated a state deficit by moving the income tax from public schools to the general fund. Carr also ensured greater competency within the state government.

Following the death of incumbent Democrat senator Alva B. Adams, Carr appointed fellow Republican Eugene Millikin as an interim to the seat. Millikin later won a special election in 1942.[5]

Carr fiercely opposed the decision by the President Franklin Roosevelt supported by many other liberal Democrats (including the Roosevelt-appointed Supreme Court justice Hugo Black) to order the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II,[6] stating:[3]

If you harm them, you must harm me. I was brought up in a small town where I knew the shame and dishonor of race hatred. I grew to despise it because it threatened the happiness of you and you and you.

He ultimately compromised his political career due to his firm moral convictions in adamantly supporting civil liberties, narrowly losing a bid for U.S. Senate in 1942 against incumbent Democrat Edwin Carl "Ed" Johnson.[7]

Death in 1950

In 1950, Carr decided to run yet again for governor of Colorado, and won the Republican nomination. However, he died in late September that year at the age of sixty-two before the general election was held in November. He is interred at Fairmont Cemetary, located in Denver.

See also


  1. CO Governor Race - Nov 08, 1938. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  2. CO Governor Race - Nov 05, 1940. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Carr.pdf. Colorado State Archives. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  4. The Lantern , 4 February 1941. The Ohio State University. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  5. CO US Senate Race - Nov 03, 1942. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  6. Paul, Jesse (December 6, 2016). In Gov. Ralph Carr, Colorado has a shining light in the painful history of Japanese internment. The Denver Post. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  7. CO US Senate Race - Nov 03, 1942. Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 26, 2021.

External links