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MS 024 - Senator E.V. Robertson



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Detailed Description

Edward V. Robertson Congressional Records

Scrapbooks, Political Items, Local Photos

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MS 024 - Senator E.V. Robertson, 1943-1948 | McCracken Research Library

By Heidi Kennedy

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Collection Overview

Title: MS 024 - Senator E.V. Robertson, 1943-1948Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Robertson, Senator E.V.

Extent: 5.0 Boxes

Date Acquired: 01/01/1983

Languages: English


This collection consists of congressional records, political scrapbooks and local photos from the career of Sen. E.V.Robertson (of Wyoming). Included in this collection are several autographed photos as well as original drawings. This collection was the gift of Marie Vanderwiele and consists of 5 boxes.

Collection Historical Note

From child laborer in Cardiff, Wales to U.S. Senator and American philanthropist, Edward Vivian Robertson lived the American dream.  Born in 1881, the fifth son of a Scots ship broker, George Robertson and his English wife, Ellen Edwards, he grew up in an apparently comfortable home served by a married couple and a maid.  By the age of fifteen, however, his later news releases have him working twelve hour days for a $1.50 a week in the Taff Vale Railroad’s locomotive works shop.  By the age of 17 he was earning the princely wage of $2.00 a week while studying nights.

E.V. or ‘Evie’ as he was known by his family joined the Welsh Regiment about 1899, the year the regiment was sent to South Africa to fight in the Second Boer War.  While one account has him spending the war in Wales, it’s unlikely he was left behind and probable that he saw action in one or more of the regiment’s battles and that he didn’t return to the British isles until 1902.

The next decade is a bit murky.  He certainly married in those years but he and his wife, Emily, seem to have had no children.  By one account he worked as a mechanical and electrical power engineer.  By another he became a merchant marine, but after several voyages contracted tuberculosis which began two years of medical treatment.  We do know that E.V. had a lifelong love affair with the sea and with things naval, probably developed in this period.

In 1912 he opened a new chapter in his life, sailing for New York with Emily aboard the the freighter, Minnehaha.  He was 31 and, according to his landing documents, was an engineer headed to Philadelphia. However, his plans changed after meeting a relative, New York financier William Robertson Coe, whose Scots mother, Margaret Robertson, was related to E.V.’s father.  Two years earlier W.R. had purchased a 492-acre hunting camp, the Irma Lake Lodge, from Buffalo Bill Cody and apparently he suggested the couple move there, presumably to look after the Coe interests.

This was the beginning of a lifelong collaboration between the two men who shared not just blood ties but the experience of growing up and possibly going to the same school in Cardiff, Wales.

E.V. was a tall, well-built, and well-spoken man with an accent people tended to take as English rather than Welch.  Most important, he had a huge capacity for hard work and approached each new task with almost obsessive zeal.  Thus, he eventually became an expert on range management, cattle and sheep breeding and husbandry, resource allocation, and bookkeeping.  He could tell to the penny how much it cost to raise and market a steer or an ewe or give a cost-benefit analysis of improving any specific range allotment either under his control or of interest to him.

In the next two decades, E.V. acquired control of some 225,000 acres of deeded/leased lands, some of which he owned, from which he shipped an estimated annual crop of 5,000 cattle and 12,000 ewes.  This included the core property at Irma Lake, the Hoodoo Ranch and the Markam and Henry Sayles outfits as well as great swatches of leases in the Shoshone National Forest.  At some point after 1921 Emily died and he married Mabel Laird, the widow of a Cody merchant.  He also built a sprawling ranch house of his own design.

Now as the head of the E.V. Robertson Agency, one of the largest stock outfits in Wyoming, he began to branch out, becoming (as a newspaper article said) the Wyoming GOP’s angel.  Not surprisingly he was elected treasurer of the Park County GOP Committee and was on the Republican National Committee.  He was involved in the Wyoming Woolgrowers Association, was Vice President of the Wyoming Cattle Growers Association, became master of Cody’s Masonic Lodge and a 33rd degree Mason.

By 1936, the tweed-wearing and well-connected rancher declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.  His publicity releases stressed his experience as a Cody merchant, a reference to the store that had come to him through his marriage to Mabel, and wove a sort of Horatio Alger biography of rags to prosperity.  This legend no doubt appealed to the average voter but E.V. also worked hard at campaigning, crisscrossing the state and dropping into the smallest community to solicit votes.  There was no hiding the fact that he owned a large cattle operation, but somehow his status as a multi-millionaire failed to become a campaign issue even when he joined with W.R. Coe in donating $50,000 to the Cheyenne Memorial Hospital and another $87,000 to build a new Cody hospital.

His generosity may or may not have helped him win the election, but win he did.  The Robertsons moved to Washington, D.C. and took an apartment in the Mayflower Hotel where they lived quietly, E.V. rising at 5:00 and in his Senate office by 7:00.  Here he repeated the pattern that had won him success in his other endeavors—thorough preparation and long, hard working hours.  This and deft use of the political system won him seats on the Armed Forces Naval Subcommittee, the key Mines and Mining Committee, The Public Lands and Surveys Committee, the Commerce Committee’s Civil Aeronautics Subcommittee, and the Indian Affairs Committee.

Most of all when the Senate decided the time had come to reorganize itself, E.V. was named to what was called the “Committee on Committees,” while his position on the Naval Subcommittee also gave him a seat at the table as America’s armed forces reorganized themselves.  In 1946 he headed off a proposed rise in grazing fees on leased lands and in 1947 he leased the Hoodoo to H.L. Hunt.

Also in 1947, the “New York Times” named Robertson as one of the four most effective senators in the U.S. Senate.  He’d become widely known not just for the depth of his knowledge on critical issues but for the fact that he was one of the Senate’s best traveled and widely informed members.  His advice was sought on everything from post-war reconstruction to plans for a United Nations.  All of these not inconsiderable testaments received little play in Wyoming’s newspapers, a fact that reflected the minimal newspaper coverage of E.V. activities.  Much of what he did may simply have been unknown at home.

When he ran for reelection in 1948, he held onto the support of Wyoming’s major players, but his opponent spun his record against him and he was defeated.  E.V. retired to Cody where he spent the next ten years before moving to Oregon.  He passed away several years later and was buried in Baker, Oregon.

Administrative Information

Repository: McCracken Research Library

Access Restrictions: McCracken Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials. Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation or publication. Contact McCracken Research Library for more information.

Acquisition Source: Marie Vanderwiele

Acquisition Method: Gift

Preferred Citation: Senator E.V. Robertson Collection, MS 24, McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Edward V. Robertson Congressional Records],
[Series 2: Scrapbooks, Political Items, Local Photos],

Series 2: Scrapbooks, Political Items, Local PhotosAdd to your cart.
Box MS24.OS03Add to your cart.
Folder MS24.OS3.1: Cody ScrapbookAdd to your cart.
Box MS24.OS04Add to your cart.
Folder MS24.OS4.1: Scrapbook of Sen. Robertson's Wyoming Political CampaignsAdd to your cart.
Box MS24.OS05Add to your cart.
Folder MS24.OS5.1: Drawing of proposed WWI monument signed by G.V. WhitneyAdd to your cart.
P.24.1 Drawing of proposed WWI monument signed by G.V. Whitney
Folder MS24.OS5.2: E.V. Robertson, J.M. Schwoob, Coe Lodge, TetonsAdd to your cart.

P.24.2 Mt. Moran

P.24.3 Coe Lodge

P.24.4 Coe Lodge

P.24.5 Coe Lodge

P.24.6 Coe Lodge

P.24.7 Coe Lodge (inside)

P.24.8 Coe Lodge (inside)

P.24.9 E.V.Robertson (photo)

P.24.10 E.V. Robertson and his wife

P.24.11 Greeting Card from J.M.Schwoob

P.24.12 Hiscock Photo of group

Folder MS24.OS5.3: Newsprint Biography of J.M. SchwoobAdd to your cart.
Folder MS24.OS5.4: Men gathered around a monument in the center of town (badly cracked)Add to your cart.
Folder MS24.OS5.5: Photo (framed and signed) The Japanese Surrender 1945, addressed to Sen. E.V. Robertson by Adm. C.W. Nimitz, 1945Add to your cart.

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