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Joseph Weldon Bailey

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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]

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


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 to the U.S. Senate in 1901. As the Minority leader of the United States House of Representatives in the 1890s, he exerted great influence on his colleagues.[2]

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.[2] His tenure ended on January 3, 1913 when he resigned his Senate seat. [3]

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. ^ 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.
  3. ^ "BAILEY, Joseph Weldon, (1862 - 1929)". Library of Congress. Retrieved 23 June 2015.

Further readingEdit

  • 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 linksEdit