Henry M. Teller: Colorado's Grand Old Man

Henry M. Teller: Colorado's Grand Old Man

Henry M. Teller: Colorado's Grand Old Man

Henry M. Teller: Colorado's Grand Old Man


Serving longer in the U. S. Senate than any other Coloradan, Henry M. Teller was one of the Centennial State's greatest statesmen and political leaders. Now Duane A. Smith, author of Horace Tabor: His Life and the Legend,/i>, rescues this larger-than-life figure from obscurity in this new and definitive biography of the Central City lawyer turned Colorado senator.

Teller was a prime example of what a politician should be in an era when elected officials left a great deal to be desired. As Colorado's representative, Teller stated his beliefs and stuck by them. Not all agreed with him, but all admired him for his honesty and integrity. His legal career in Colorado encompassed much of the early legislation in the territory, such as developing mining law and the organization of the Colorado Central Railroad, while his Washington career touched on nearly every important western economic development issue that occurred in Colorado between 1876 and 1909. Teller declared to the U. S. Congress that Colorado was a part of the nation, and that the West deserved a say in its decisions.

Incorporating extensive primary and secondary sources, federal documents, the Teller papers, a wealth of newspaper articles, and a superb array of photographs, Smith's biography will be a wonderful source for anyone interested in Colorado history and the political past of the state and nation.


Although he was easily recognizable a century ago in Colorado, we have generally forgotten Henry Teller today. It reminds one of the words of Charles Kingsley that his contemporary, Horace Tabor, placed on the curtain of his grand opera house in Denver.

So fleet the works of men back to the earth again: Ancient and holy things fade like a dream.

Teller's career spanned Colorado's history from the pioneering days of the early 1860s to the threshold of World War I. He was the first Coloradan to gain national status, and no one from Colorado has served longer in the U.S. Senate. He was also the first Coloradan to serve in the president's cabinet. He provided and provides Coloradans with a “sense of a personal and possessed past, ” as Wallace Stegner wrote.

Henry Teller was a transitional leader who took Colorado from the nineteenth century into the twentieth, pointing the way into the future while trying to make the new generation aware of the problems it would have to confront. Water, the environment, Washington's role in the West, America's place on the world scene, and the “new” economy and politics ranked high among the issues that concerned him. Not simply a state or regional leader, Teller was among the first to worry about America's new role as a world power, particularly its involvement in Asia. Today, after World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, his warnings sound hauntingly familiar.

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