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Title | Creator | Date Made Visible | None

Testimony of A. A. Harris, in report and testimony of the select committee to investigate the causes of the removal of the Negroes from the southern states to the northern states, in three parts

United States. Congress. Senate. Select Committee on Negro Exodus

A. A. Harris, a white resident of Ft. Scott, Kansas, gave this brief testimony on March 29, 1880, before the Senate select committee investigating the causes of the Exodus. Harris described his contact with the black Exodusters in his area, including their difficulty finding employment. The committee also asked Harris to speak in some detail about the general treatment of African-Americans in Kansas, including any discrimination against them, particularly in the world of politics. This committee was composed of three Democratic senators and two Republican senators: Daniel W. Voorhees (Dem., Indiana), Zebulon B. Vance (Dem., North Carolina), George H. Pendleton (Dem., Ohio), William Windom (Rep., Minnesota), and Henry W. Blair (Rep., New Hampshire). Senators Blair and Vance asked the questions presented in this testimony.

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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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Nellie Cline

Nellie Cline, a native of Larned, Pawnee County, served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 1921 to 1924. She is also credited with being the first female lawyer to argue a case before the United States Supreme Court.

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