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Title | Creator | Date Made Visible | None

Populist members of the Dunsmore House at the Kansas Statehouse

Farrow, W. F.

This group picture, taken during or after the Legislative War of 1893, depicts the members of the Dunsmore House (Populist), and a few women and children, standing on the statehouse steps in Topeka, Kansas. The validity of the election of 1893 had been called in question, and thus two houses, the Douglass House (Republican) and Dunsmore House (Populist), both occupied Representative Hall and claimed to be the legally elected legislative body. On February 13, 1893, the Populist Dunsmore House barricaded the hall and prevented the Republican congressmen from entering the chambers. The Republican Douglass house responded by attacking the doors of the hall with sledgehammers. The Douglass House then recruited six hundred guards (called sergeants-at-arms) to guard the hall, refusing an order from Governor Lorenzo Lewelling to vacate the premises. Finally, on the night of February 16, the ousted Populists agreed to wait for the verdict from the Supreme Court while the Republicans maintained control of the House, and on February 25, the Supreme Court affirmed the validity of the Republican House. This event, although it lasted only twelve days, came to be known as the Legislative War or the Populist War.

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Annie (Le Porte) Diggs

Snyder

A portrait of Annie (Le Porte) Diggs, who was born in 1848 in Canada to an American mother and French father. Two years later the family moved to New Jersey, where she attended school. Diggs moved to Lawrence, Kansas, in 1873 and married Alvin S. Diggs shortly thereafter. While in Kansas, Diggs began to attend the local Unitarian Church and developed a strong sense of moral responsibility that prompted her to work for temperance and women?s suffrage. During 1882, Diggs and her husband published the newspaper Kansas Liberal, and beginning in 1890 she was the associate editor of the Alliance Advocate. As a radical reformer seeking to wipe out injustice, Diggs also allied herself with the Farmer?s Alliance, aiding in the creation of the People's (Populist) Party, serving on the Populist National Committee, and supporting the fusion of the Populist and Democratic parties in the 1898 election. Throughout this time she continued to work actively for women?s voting rights and served in the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association. In 1898, she was appointed the state librarian of Kansas, and she was also elected president of Kansas Press Women in 1905. Diggs moved to New York City in 1906, where she worked on two publications: The Story of Jerry Simpson (1908) and Bedrock (1912). She relocated to Detroit, Michigan, in 1912 and died there on September 7, 1916.

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Jeremiah "Sockless Jerry" Simpson

Jeremiah Simpson was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada, on March 31, 1842. Simpson and his family relocated to New York State when he was six, and during the Civil War he served in the Illinois Volunteer Infantry, receiving a discharge due to medical reasons. When the war was over, he moved to Indiana and then to Kansas, working as a farmer and cattle rancher. Then, after devastating financial losses, Simpson began his political career by running as a Union Labor Party candidate for the state legislature in 1886 and 1888. Although he lost both of these elections, Simpson rose to the occasion when, in 1889, the newly formed People?s (Populist) Party nominated him for Congress. In that election Simpson ran against James R. Hallowell, a Republican attorney who Simpson derided as a wearer of ?fine silk hosiery?; Hallowell responded by stating that fine hosiery was better than being sockless. This is how Simpson received the nickname ?sockless Jerry.? Simpson won the election and a seat in the House of Representatives, going on to serve three terms from 1891 to 1895, and again from 1897 until 1899. He died on October 23, 1905.

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Mary Elizabeth Lease

Deane

Mary Elizabeth (Clyens) Lease is perhaps the best-known Kansas Populist. She was born in Pennsylvania on September 11, 1850 to Irish immigrants. At the age of twenty she moved to Osage Mission, Kansas, in order to teach school at St. Anne?s Academy. While there, she met and married Charles L. Lease, a local pharmacist. After several unsuccessful attempts at farming, Lease turned her attention to the plight of her fellow farmers, and by 1890, her passionate criticisms of railroads and big business made her a formidable force in the newly formed People's (Populist) Party. She became a well-known lecturer for the Populist cause, traveling throughout the West, Midwest, and South. Although this statement has in fact been misattributed to her, she is most known for her assertion that farmers must "raise less corn and more hell.? Her zeal and refusal to compromise eventually alienated her from mainstream Populists, and by 1896 she had turned her attention toward other reform causes, including prohibition and suffrage. She divorced Charles in 1902, spending the remainder of her life living with various children on the Atlantic coast. She passed away on October 29, 1933 in New York state.

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William Alfred Peffer

Leonard, J. H.

William Alfred Peffer was the first Populist senator elected to U.S. Congress. He was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, on September 10, 1831. As a young man he traveled across the country, living in California, Indiana, Missouri, and Illinois. After the outbreak of Civil War, Peffer enlisted in the 83rd Illinois Infantry, entering as a private and working his way up to the rank of second lieutenant. He read law while still in the military, and after his discharge in 1865 he was admitted to the bar and began practicing law in Clarksville, Tennessee. Five years later he moved to Fredonia, Kansas, where he established another practice and edited the Fredonia Journal. Peffer served as a state senator from 1874 to 1876, and during his tenure he relocated to Coffeyville, Kansas, where he assumed editorial control of the Coffeyville Journal. Then, in 1881, he launched the Populist publication Kansas Farmer, one of his best-known contributions to this agrarian reform movement. Peffer was instrumental in the creation of the People?s (Populist) Party, serving as a Populist U.S. Senator from 1891 to 1897 and running again (unsuccessfully) for re-election in 1896. Two years later, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for Governor of Kansas, losing the election to Republican William Stanley. Peffer died in 1912 in Grenola, Kansas, at the age of 81.

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Lorenzo Dow Lewelling

This photograph represents Lorenzo Dow Lewelling (1846-1900). Born and raised in the Quaker lifestyle in Iowa, Lewelling moved to Wichita, Kansas in 1887, after working a variety of jobs and serving in the Civil War with his second wife and child from his first marriage. As a founding member of the Farmers? Alliance, Lewelling ran as a Populist for the 1892 governor?s race. Notable events during his administration was the ?Populist War? in 1883, clash with activist Mary Elizabeth Lease over the fusion of the Populists and Democrats, and removing Lease from her position as President of the Kansas Board of Charities. Failing to be re-elected as governor, Lewelling was elected to the Kansas State Senate, a position he held until his death.

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