In Oklahoma, impeachment is of the soil racy. In the twenty-three years of statehood, thirteen impeachment messages have been received in the Senate from the House. Governor Williams (1914-18) has been the only one of six elected governors against whom House investigations were not ordered, and he may have been spared by the unusual House rule which declared any members guilty of perjury who swore to charges that were not substantiated in an investigation.
Backed by the farmer-labor group, John C. Walton was elected governor in 1922 in a campaign marked by bitterness and party bolting. Before he was inaugurated, rumor had it that he would be impeached. Opposition to him sprang from three main sources—disappointed office-seekers, the klan, and the school bloc. However, it was the klan that finally dragged him down. To prevent klan outrages and to punish their perpetrators, Walton attempted to employ the military forces of the state. Martial law was declared in the city of Tulsa on August 13, 1923. It was soon extended to the whole of Tulsa county, to Okmulgee county, and finally on September 1 to the whole state. Adding to the confusion, the legislature tried to convene itself in extraordinary session, under the excuse that the governor's action had made such a step necessary and essential to the welfare of the state. Walton countered by branding the legislators as klansmen and a meeting of the legislature as an unlawful klan assembly. An attempted convening was frustrated by armed force on September 16.