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Joseph H. Maupin

Joseph H. Maupin

Joseph H. Maupin

8th Colorado Attorney General
Term: 1891-1892

               The first seven Attorneys General of Colorado were Republicans. It was not until the election of 1890 that the first Democrat, Joseph H. Maupin, was elected. He defeated incumbent Samuel Jones by 1,000 votes. Maupin was born in Columbia, Missouri on April 13, 1856. He was one of six children. His father fought for the Confederacy and died during the Civil War. Joseph Maupin worked at various jobs to put himself through the law department at the University of Missouri. After graduating with honors in 1878 he moved to Colorado and opened a law office in Huerfano County. A tall trial lawyer who resembled Abe Lincoln, Maupin was nicknamed “the Tall Cottonwood of the Arkansas.” In 1883 he moved to Cañon City. He lost a State Senate race in 1886 but was elected Mayor of Cañon City in 1888. He married Lily McClure the same year. Maupin was only 35 when elected Attorney General.

Maupin served a single term as Attorney General in 1891-92. It was an eventful time in Colorado. In 1891 Robert Womack discovered gold in Cripple Creek, and thousands of people flocked to the mining district. According to the 1890 census, the population of Colorado had reached 400,000, a quarter of which lived in Denver. Building in Denver was booming and steel, paper, cotton, and woolen mills were operating. A major issue during Maupin’s term as Attorney General was the unpopular policies of the State Land Board with regard to land disposition. Maupin opposed the Board on several proposed land sales. By the end of his term, the bottom fell out of the silver market, mines and smelters closed, and labor unrest ensued.

In 1892 Maupin ran for Governor but garnered only nine percent of the vote in a race won by the Populist Party candidate, Davis H. Waite. Maupin returned to Cañon City and established a “large and lucrative” law practice. He remained active in civic organizations and was the Exalted Ruler of the Pueblo Elks Club. He died in 1929 and was buried in the Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery in Cañon City.