Martin Van Buren Bennett

Martin Van Buren Bennett, a typical Western man, was born in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, on a farm, Jan. 1, 1830.    His education was begun in a log school-house in which he advanced as far as the “rule of three.”  His father left him an orphan at 10 years of age.  When he was 18 he began teaching school in the village of Wiltshire in his native State, continuing this for 5 or 6 years.  In 1854 he went West with his brother and an uncle to Iowa, and located in Knoxville, that State.  He taught school for 2 years at Knoxville, read law, and published a paper – The Democratic Standard.  In 1857 he was elected to the legislature and 2 years later re-elected, serving during 2 regular sessions and 1 extra session.  He was elector from the First Congressional District of Iowa on the Douglas ticket in 1860.  During all this time he was building up a large practice as a criminal lawyer.
     In August, 1862, although a staunch Democrat, he raised 4 companies for service in the war.  He was made captain of Company A, 40th Iowa Infantry, and remained in active service until 1864, when on account of ill-health and loss of hearing he resigned.
     In 1868 he was elector-at-large on the Seymour and Blair ticket.  Two years later, in 1870, he moved to southern Kansas, and finally settled in Cherokee County, at Columbus, where he now resides, engaged in his law practice.
     Mr. Bennett took part in the fight for Constitutional Prohibition as what was then called a Democratic Prohibitionist.  He went back to Iowa in the great fight made for the Prohibition law, and made 37 speeches, and closed his canvass at Cedar Rapids, the night before the election in 1883, having changed enough Democratic votes to the candidate of the Republican Party for representative to give him a majority which gave the Republicans one majority in the lower house and enabled the Republican Party of Iowa to pass the prohibitory law in 1884.
     In 1883 he established The Kansas Prohibitionist and edited it until the Prohibition law was thoroughly enforced in the State.  He called the Prohibition convention which met in Topeka in 1884 and sent a delegation to the national convention at Pittsburgh, in which he was a delegate-at-large, that nominated Gov. John P. St. John.  Bennett got Miss Willard to second the nomination of John P. St. John, she being the first woman who ever seconded the nomination of a candidate for the Presidency.  Bennett was a delegate-at-large to the Indianapolis convention that nominated Clinton B. Fisk, also a delegate to the Cincinnati convention that nominated General Bidwell.  He has been constantly on the platform for Prohibition since 1887.  He is a member from Kansas of the National Committee of the Prohibition Party.

-- Data from An Album of Representative Prohibitionists (1895).