L. (LeBaron) Bradford Prince


L. (LeBaron) Bradford Prince

Born in Flushing, New York on July 3, 1840, the son of William R., a nursery proprietor, and Charlotte G. (Collins) Prince. Prince was the brother of Charlotte, Seraphine, and William. An Episcopalian of Mayflower ancestry, he was married on December 1, 1879 to Hattie E. Childs, who died three months after the wedding. He married Mary Catharine Beardsley of Oswego, New York on November 17, 1881, by whom he was the father of William Bradford.

Prince was educated at the Columbia University Law School, where he received his degree in 1866. The next year he authored the book E Pluribus Unum, or American Nationality. Prince became involved in Republican politics in New York soon after graduation from law school, serving in the New York State Legislature from 1870 to 1874 and the State Senate in 1875. In 1878 he was offered the position of Governor of Idaho Territory, but he declined the honor after calling on the Congressional Delegate from that territory and finding him in his office without shoes. Prince was named Chief Justice of New Mexico in 1878. and served until May 1882. In the latter year and in 1884 he was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress from New Mexico.
President Benjamin Harrison appointed Prince Governor of New Mexico on April 1, 1889; he took the oath of office on April 17 of that year. A leading member of the “Santa Fe Ring,” the clique of Republicans which controlled the territory during most of the late nineteenth century, Prince stressed the benefits of private economic development. He personally owned at least a dozen mining enterprises and land grant speculations. A strong party man, Prince worked hard to obtain Hispanic support for the Republicans, especially by encouraging President Harrison to appoint Spanish‑speaking residents to government posts.
Prince was later called the father of New Mexico statehood. During his term, in 1889, a convention produced a constitution which would have paved the way to statehood, but it was soundly defeated by the voters. Prince, who had supported the constitution, was convinced that New Mexico would have to solve several of its internal problems before statehood could become a reality. He prodded a reluctant Legislature to pass the first effective school law in the territory. He also tried to clear up the complicated problem of dealing with land titles, but it would take the Court of Private Land Claims, established in 1891, until 1904 to complete this task. With the goal of statehood uppermost in his mind, Prince tried unsuccessfully to get the various factions in the Republican Party together on this issue.
After his replacement as governor on April 20, 1893, Prince practiced law in New Mexico and lived in Rio Arriba County near Chamita. He served as a member of the Territorial Council in 1909, continuing his fight for statehood. That same year he served as President of the Spanish‑American Normal School. Prince died in Flushing, New York on December 22, 1922, and was buried in St. George’s Cemetery.

Sources Used:

L. Bradford Prince and J. N. Irwin, “Claims to Statehood,” North American Review, 156 (1893), 346‑58.

Mary LeBaron Stockwell, Descendants of Francis LeBaron of Plymouth, Mass. (Boston, 1904).

L. Bradford Prince, New Mexico’s Struggle for Statehood: Sixty Years of Effort to Obtain Self‑Government (Santa Fe, 1910).

L. Bradford Prince, A Concise History of New Mexico (Cedar Rapids, Ia., 1912).

New York Times, December 10, 1922; "In Memory of L. Bradford Prince," New Mexico Historical Society Publications #25 (Santa Fe, 1923).

"In Memoriam: Hon. L. Bradford Prince," El Palacio, 15 (October 1923), 113‑15.

Paul A. F. Walter, ‘Ten Years After," New Mexico Historical Review, 7(October 1932), 371‑76.

Luciano R. Baca, "L. Bradford Prince, Governor of the Territory of New Mexico, 1889‑1892," unpub. master’s thesis, University of New Mexico, 1962.

Howard R. Lamar, The Far Southwest, 1846‑1912: A Territorial History (New Haven, 1966).

Walter J. Donlon, "LeBaron Bradford Prince, Chief Justice and Governor of New Mexico, 1879‑1893," unpub. Ph.D. diss., University of New Mexico, 1967.

Prince’s papers are in the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives in Santa Fe and the University of California at Los Angeles Library. DA


Governor, President Benjamin Harrison, Santa Fe Ring, Republican, Rio Arriba County, Territorial Council


McMullin, Thomas A. and David Walker. Biographical Directory of American Territorial Governors. Westport, CT. Meckler Publishing, 1984.