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Joseph Weldon Bailey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joseph Weldon Bailey, Sr.
Joseph Weldon Bailey.jpg
Joseph Bailey c. 1910 to 1915
United States Senator
from Texas
In office
March 4, 1901 – January 3, 1913
Preceded byHorace Chilton
Succeeded byRienzi M. Johnston
House Minority Leader
In office
March 4, 1897 – March 3, 1899
Preceded byOffice Created
Succeeded byJames D. Richardson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 4th district
In office
March 4, 1891 – March 3, 1901
Preceded bySilas Hare
Succeeded byChoice B. Randell
Personal details
Born(1862-10-06)October 6, 1862
Crystal Springs
Copiah County
Mississippi, USA
DiedApril 13, 1929(1929-04-13) (aged 66)
Sherman, Texas
Resting placeFairview Cemetery in Gainesville, Texas
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materUniversity of Mississippi
OccupationLawyer and politician

Joseph Weldon Bailey, Sr. (October 6, 1862 – April 13, 1929), was a United States Senator, United States Representative, lawyer, and a Bourbon Democrat who was famous for his speeches extolling conservative causes, such as opposition to woman suffrage or restrictions on child labor. He served as a Congressional Representative between 1891 and 1901, and as the House minority leader from 1897 until 1899. In 1901, he was elected to the Senate, serving until 1913. Historian Elna C. Green says that Bailey was known in Texas as a rigorous defender of states' rights, constitutional conservatism, and governmental economy. His opponents considered him the symbol of privilege and corruption in government.[1]


Born in Crystal Springs in Copiah County outside Jackson, Mississippi, Bailey attended the University of Mississippi at Oxford, where in 1879 he joined the prestigious Delta Psi fraternity (AKA St. Anthony Hall). Bailey was admitted to the bar in Mississippi in 1883. He moved to Gainesville in north Texas in 1885, where he continued to practice law.

He had been politically active as a Democrat in both Mississippi and his new home and had a reputation as an excellent public speaker who promoted Jeffersonian democracy. He was elected to the House in 1891 and quickly distinguished himself as leading advocate for free silver, which contributed to his election as Minority leader of the United States House of Representatives in 1897.[2] He exerted considerable influence on his colleagues, but also struggled to unify his divided caucus.[3] On April 14, 1897, some House Democrats, led by David A. De Armond sought to block a three day adjournment, a maneuver understood as a repudiation of Bailey's cooperative relationship with Republican Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed.[4]

Bailey's most severe disappointment as minority leader came in 1898, when Bailey argued that congressmen who had accepted commissions to serve in the army without resigning from Congress had violated the Ineligibility Clause of the Constitution.[5] Despite Bailey's advocacy, when the House voted on a motion for whether to consider a resolution which would have removed several members from Congress who had simultaneously held commissions during the Spanish–American War, a majority of Democrats opposed the motion.[5] The next day, Bailey declared that he would not be a candidate for minority leader in the next Congress.[5]

He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1901. His political career was tarnished by an assault against Senator Albert J. Beveridge, an Indiana Republican. Subsequent investigations brought to light suspicious income and financial ties that Bailey had to the burgeoning oil industry. Nevertheless, financial allegations against Bailey in 1906 threatened his reelection to the Senate, a task then the prerogative of the Texas legislature, rather than party voters.[3] His tenure ended on January 3, 1913 when he resigned his Senate seat.[6]

After his defeat by Pat M. Neff in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 1920, Bailey moved to Dallas to practice law. In 1929, he died in a courtroom in Sherman, Texas.


  1. ^ Elna C. Green, "From Antisuffragism to Anti-Communism: The Conservative Career of Ida M. Darden, Journal of Southern History (1999) 65#2 p 291
  2. ^ Holcomb, Bob Charles (June 1968). Senator Joe Bailey, Two Decades of Controversy (Thesis). Texas Technical College. p. 86.
  3. ^ a b Caro, Robert A. (1990). The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power. Vintage Books. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-679-72945-7.
  4. ^ Holcomb 1968, p. 118.
  5. ^ a b c Holcomb 1968, p. 166.
  6. ^ "BAILEY, Joseph Weldon, (1862 - 1929)". Library of Congress. Retrieved 23 June 2015.

Further reading

  • Acheson, Sam Hanna. Joe Bailey, The Last Democrat (New York, 1932)
  • Gould, Lewis. Progressives and Prohibitionists: Texas Democrats in the Wilson Era (U of Texas Press, 1973),

External links

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
New Title
House Minority Leader
Succeeded by
James D. Richardson
Preceded by
Silas Hare
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Choice B. Randell
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Horace Chilton
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Texas
Succeeded by
Rienzi M. Johnston
This page was last edited on 28 May 2021, at 05:37
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