Origins of the "Attorney General"

The term “attorney general” first appears during the 1200s in England where Edward I appointed an attornati regis to represent the Crown on legal matters throughout the kingdom. During his reign, the king had several attorneys under his authority who represented him on a variety of matters. The attornati regis became known as the “general attorney” who did not specialize in one form of English common law, but rather was the king’s agent on matters and oversaw the activities of the other attorneys. 

The positions evolved from the 1300s to the colonial times. By the time of the American colonies the governing position of an attorney general was commonplace. In the United States, the Office of Attorney General was part of President George Washington’s first cabinet. Edmund Randolph served as the first U.S. attorney general.

The first Kansas Territorial attorney general was Andrew Jackson Isacks who was appointed by President Franklin Pierce. He served from 1854 until 1857. The first attorney general of the State of Kansas was Benjamin Franklin Simpson who served from February to July 1861. In 2010, Derek Schmidt was elected as the 44th attorney general of Kansas.

Learn more about past Kansas Attorneys General.

The Office of Attorney General is required to represent the state in all matters before the Kansas Supreme Court. The attorney general is also required to advise and assist other state offices, commissions, members of the Legislature and the 105 county and district attorneys. 

Learn more about the history of Kansas in the United States Supreme Court.

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Benjamin Franklin Simpson George H. Hoyt Kansas government officials circa 1879 Lyman Beecher Kellogg and Jennie Mitchell Kellogg Chiles Crittendon Coleman Kansas Statehouse circa 1910 News clipping of Kansas victory over Missouri to claim rights to Goose Island. Memorial Building Dedication Harold Ralph Fatzer Brown v. Board of Education mural Vern Miller Downtown Topeka circa 1960-1969 Robert Taft Stephan Kansas Law Enforcement Memorial Carla J. Stovall KBI Forensic Science Center Derek Schmidt