Illustration for article titled The time the governor of Michigan recused himself from a cutest baby contest

In 1874, the Kalamazoo Agriculture Society decided to host, as part of a larger fair, a cutest-baby contest, or a "baby show." The KAS decided that they would appoint Michigan's governor, John J. Bagley (above, bearded), as the head of the committee of judges for the show.


And, as was the style of the time, the New York Times was on it.

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Bagley responded to his appointment with a very graceful "no." He explained his reasoning thoroughly.

  1. This could affect my career as a politician.
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The losing parents, of whom there will be many, are not going to vote for me! Therefore, I must decline.

2. I can't do this because I don't know who else is on the committee.

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What kind of babies do these people have? Do they even like babies? The committee's work would be made null and void if someone who didn't like babies was on the committee about babies.

3. The same goes for people who haven't even had babies.

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Bagley goes on to explain that while he has plenty of experience making babies ("I have seven babies of my own"), some of them have aged out of their essential babyness, even if he still thinks of them as babies.

4. Moreover, my babies, even the ones who are no longer technically babies, are so perfect that his judgement of non-Bagley babies would suffer in comparison.

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Truly John J. Bagley was a man who only wanted what was best for the state of Michigan. Or he was a man who did not want to travel 75 miles from the governor's mansion in Lansing to Kalamazoo in 1874. For a guy who wanted to prevent people from legally enjoying alcohol before it was fashionable, Bagley seems like he was a lot of fun.


Bagley served one term as governor.

[h/t Elon Green]

David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on Fusion.net—hop on. Got a tip? Email him: david.matthews@fusion.net

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