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John deKoven Alsop
Member of the Connecticut State House of Representatives

In office
1947–1949
Personal details
Born (1915-07-04)July 4, 1915
Avon, Connecticut, US
Died April 6, 2000(2000-04-06) (aged 84)
Old Saybrook, Connecticut, U.S.
Political party Republican
Parents Joseph Wright Alsop IV
Corinne Douglas Robinson
Alma mater Yale University
Occupation Politician, soldier
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch U.S. Army
Rank US-O3 insignia.svg Captain
Battles/wars World War II

John deKoven Alsop (July 4, 1915 – April 6, 2000) was an American soldier, insurance executive, and politician who served in the Connecticut State House of Representatives and was an unsuccessful candidate for the governor of Connecticut in 1958 and 1962,[1] and was known as "one of Connecticut's most influential and colorful Republicans."[2]

Early life[]

Alsop was born and raised in Avon, Connecticut, from an old Yankee family.[3] He was the youngest of four children born to Joseph Wright Alsop IV (1876–1953)[4] and Corinne Douglas Robinson (1886–1971), both of whom also served in the Connecticut General Assembly. Among his siblings was journalists Joseph Alsop and Stewart Alsop.[5][6]

His father was descended from a family that was long prominent in politics, including Continental Congressman John Alsop, Richard Alsop, John Alsop King, and direct descendant of James Monroe.[2] His paternal grandfather, Dr. Joseph Wright Alsop III, was the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor of Connecticut in 1891. Through his mother, he was descended from the Oyster Bay branch of the Roosevelt family, his maternal grandmother was Corinne Roosevelt Robinson, his grand-uncle was President Theodore Roosevelt, and Eleanor Roosevelt was his first cousin once-removed.[1]

He graduated from Kingswood School in West Hartford, and like his older brother Stewart, Alsop attended Groton School, graduating in 1933, and Yale University, graduating in 1937,[1] where he was a member of Scroll and Key.[7]

Career[]

Following his graduation from Yale, he began working at Smith, Barney & Company in New York. In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served with the Office of Strategic Services in England, France and China. During the War, Alsop was a member of a seven-man British-American team that parachuted into behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied France and worked with resistance fighters to "spot enemy airfields and teach underground tactics to the French guerilla army."[2] He was the recipient of a Bronze Star with cluster and was eventually promoted to Captain.[1]

Alsop served as president of the Covenant Insurance Group in Hartford for 27 years, a company that was founded by his father in the 1920s as Hartford County Mutual Fire Insurance Company and the Connecticut Valley Mutual Hail Insurance Company.[8] Along with John Filer, the former chairman of Aetna, and DeRoy Thomas of ITT Hartford, he was one of the principal organizers of the Insurance Association of Connecticut, which became a significant lobbying force in Connecticut on insurance issues.[2] He retired in 1980.[1]

Political career[]

From 1947 until 1949, Alsop, who was referred to as a "blue-blooded moderate" and "Connecticut Yankee Republican"[2] was elected and served two terms in the Connecticut General Assembly representing Avon,[3] allied with the liberal wing of the Republican party.[1] In office, he sponsored and championed a bill known as the Alsop Birth Control bill which would "permit physicians to prescribe the use of contraceptives for married women whose lives may be endangered by pregnancy."[9][10] At the end of the 1949 legislative session, he also helped push through three desegregation bills submitted by the Connecticut NAACP that outlawed racial discrimination in public accommodations, public-housing projects, and the National Guard.[2]

He was an early backer of Dwight D. Eisenhower's campaign for president in 1952,[11][12] serving as a state vice chairman for the campaign.[1][13] During the campaign, he was "credited with creating the amiable 1952 epithet 'egghead' in the modern political vocabulary."[6]

In 1958, Alsop sought the Republican nomination for governor of Connecticut,[14] but lost in the primary to Fred R. Zeller, the State Controller by a count of 276 votes to 349 votes,[15] who himself overwhelmingly lost to Gov. Abraham Ribicoff in the general election.[16] He attempted again in 1962, this time winning the nomination over Edwin H. May Jr. on the eighth ballot at the party convention after a deadlock of more than ten hours.[17] Alsop ultimately lost the election to the incumbent Governor and former Lieutenant Governor, John N. Dempsey,[18] who served from January 1961 to January 1971, by 482,671 votes to 549,030 votes for Dempsey.[18][19] While he did not seek the nomination again or hold public office, he continued to be involved in the party and represented Connecticut on the Republican National Committee from 1968 until 1984.[1]

Personal life[]

On June 19, 1947,[20] Alsop was married to Augusta McLane "Gussie" Robinson (1924–2015) at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hartford, Connecticut. She was the daughter of Lucius F. Robinson and Augusta (née McLane) Robinson.[21] Gussie attended Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut and served as a Red Cross nurses' aide during World War II.[7] In 1986, the family moved to Old Lyme, Connecticut from their farm on Talcott Notch in Avon, where he was born.[1] Together, John and Augusta were the parents of four children, three of whom lived to maturity, a son and two daughters:[22]

  • John deKoven Alsop, who married Janice Stuver and served as the Assistant Attorney for the state of Maine.[23]
  • Mary Oliver Alsop, who married Peter Farnum Culver in 1978.[8]
  • Augusta McLane Alsop, who married Michael David Hoy, a woodworker.[24]
  • Samuel Alsop, who died as an infant.[25]

Alsop died on April 6, 2000, at a health care center in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.[1] His funeral was held at St. Ann Church in Old Lyme, Connecticut.[3]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Saxon, Wolfgang (April 17, 2000). "John Alsop, 84, G.O.P. Figure In Connecticut" (in en). The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2000/04/17/nyregion/john-alsop-84-gop-figure-in-connecticut.html. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Keating, Christopher (April 8, 2000). "John Alsop, Political Giant, Dies" (in en). Hartford Courant. http://articles.courant.com/2000-04-08/news/0004080116_1_joseph-and-stewart-alsop-political-giant-connecticut-yankee-republican. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "John deKoven Alsop". The Middletown Press. April 8, 2000. https://www.middletownpress.com/news/article/John-deKoven-Alsop-11924450.php. 
  4. "JOSEPH W. ALSOP OF CONNECTICUT, 76; Father of Columnists is Dead --Republican Party Official Led Insurance Concerns". The New York Times. March 18, 1953. https://www.nytimes.com/1953/03/18/archives/i-father-of-columnists-is-dead-republican-party-official-led.html. 
  5. Robert W. Merry (1997). Taking on the World: Joseph and Stewart Alsop, Guardians of the American Century. Penguin Group. p. 4. ISBN 9780140149845. https://books.google.com/books?id=Kq1qZKs3B78C. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Connecticut Winners" (in en). The New York Times. June 7, 1962. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1962/06/07/80393290.pdf. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "AUGUSTA ROBINSON ENGAGED TO MARRY; Former Nurse's Aide Will Be the Bride of John deK. Alsop, a Graduate of Yale" (in en). The New York Times. February 12, 1947. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1947/02/12/88754560.pdf. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Peter Culver Marries Mary Alsop" (in en). The New York Times. May 28, 1978. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1978/05/28/110962095.pdf. 
  9. "Alsop Confident Of Birth Control Measure Passage" (in en). Hartford Courant. March 11, 1947. p. 2. https://www.newspapers.com/image/367779223/?terms=john%2Balsop%2Bbirth%2Bcontrol%2Bbill. 
  10. "BIRTH CONTROL BILL BACKED BY DOCTORS; Medical Society Is Unanimous for Connecticut Measure Designed to Save Lives" (in en). The New York Times. May 5, 1947. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1947/05/05/87747592.pdf. 
  11. "John Alsop, 84, Gop Notable In Connecticut" (in en). Sun-Sentinel. April 21, 2000. https://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2000-04-21/news/0004201003_1_connecticut-eisenhower-party. 
  12. "EISENHOWER'S MEN LEAD CONNECTICUT; Republicans Begin Selection of Delegates as State Convention Nears" (in en). The New York Times. May 18, 1952. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1952/05/18/93371185.pdf. 
  13. "Eisenhower Aide Chosen" (in en). The New York Times. January 13, 1952. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1952/01/13/93342568.pdf. 
  14. "ALSOP FORCES SEE CONNECTICUT GAIN; Candidate in Six-Way Race for Governorship Says He Controls 200 Delegates" (in en). The New York Times. May 4, 1958. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1958/05/04/89093429.pdf. 
  15. "CONNECTICUT G.O.P. SWINGS TO ZELLER; State Controller Nominated for Governor – Purtell Is Unopposed for Senator" (in en). The New York Times. June 18, 1958. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1958/06/18/83415530.pdf. 
  16. "CONNECTICUT G.O.P. LOSES 2 LEADERS; Chairman, Vice Chairman in Fairfield County Quit – State Shake-Up Seen" (in en). The New York Times. November 8, 1958. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1958/11/08/83422844.pdf. 
  17. "Alsop Wins G.O.P. Nomination For Governorship in Connecticut; CONNECTICUT G.O.P. NOMINATES ALSOP" (in en). The New York Times. June 6, 1962. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1962/06/06/89858966.pdf. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 "CONNECTICUT RACE WON BY RIBICOFF; Voters Send Him to Senate and Return Dempsey to the Governorship Gain for Democrats CONNECTICUT RACE WON BY RIBICOFF" (in en). The New York Times. November 7, 1962. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1962/11/07/86991760.pdf. 
  19. "Connecticut Governor, 1962". Our Campaigns. https://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=123346. 
  20. "Augusta McL Robinson Wed in Hartford To John Alsop of Connecticut Assembly" (in en). The New York Times. June 20, 1947. https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1947/06/20/110053208.pdf. 
  21. "ALSOP, Augusta (Robinson)" (in en). Hartford Courant. June 7, 2015. p. B8. https://www.newspapers.com/image/264197521/?terms=Augusta%2BRobinson%2BAlsop. 
  22. "Alsop, Dekoven John" (in en). Hartford Courant. April 8, 2000. https://articles.courant.com/2000-04-08/news/0004071900_1_john-dekoven-alsop-hartford-national-bank-hartford-hospital. 
  23. Ohm, Rachel (March 29, 2015). "Cornville attorney pursues love of art". Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. https://www.centralmaine.com/2015/03/29/cornville-attorney-pursues-love-of-art/. 
  24. "Michael Hoy and Augusta Alsop". The Maine Crafts Guild. https://www.mainecraftsguild.com/michael-hoy-and-augusta-alsop/. 
  25. "John Alsop Baby Dies; Son of GOP Leader" (in en). Hartford Courant. April 11, 1963. p. 9. https://www.newspapers.com/image/370635297/?terms=Augusta%2BRobinson%2BAlsop. 

External links[]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Fred R. Zeller
Republican nominee for
Governor of Connecticut

(1962)
Succeeded by
E. Clayton Gengras

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