Weaver, James Baird

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Weaver, James Baird

James Baird Weaver, 1833–1912, American political leader, b. Dayton, Ohio. Reared in frontier areas of Michigan and Iowa, he practiced law in Iowa. He served in the Union army in the Civil War and rose from the rank of private to that of brevet brigadier general. He held several offices in Iowa before he adopted the cause of reform and was elected (1878) to the U.S. House of Representatives on the Greenback party ticket. In 1880 he was the unsuccessful presidential candidate of the Greenback party. Again (1885–89) in Congress with the backing of the Democratic and the Greenback-Labor parties, Weaver continued to advocate "soft-money" views. He helped form the Farmers' Alliance—an agrarian reform movement—and when that organization became the Populist party, Weaver ran (1892) as its presidential candidate. He recorded his political views in A Call to Action (1892). Although defeated, he polled more than one million popular and 22 electoral votes. Weaver became one of the important leaders of the free-silver movement, backed William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 presidential campaign, and after the decline of Populism retired from national politics.

See biography by F. E. Haynes (1919).

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