Theodore Arlington Bell

Theodore Arlington Bell (July 25, 1872 – September 4, 1922) was a Democratic politician from California.[1]

Theodore Bell
Theodore A. Bell LCCN2014693255 (cropped).jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1903 – March 4, 1905
Preceded bySamuel D. Woods
Succeeded byDuncan E. McKinlay
Personal details
Theodore Arlington Bell

(1872-07-25)July 25, 1872
Vallejo, California, U.S.
DiedSeptember 4, 1922(1922-09-04) (aged 50)
San Rafael, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic (Before 1921)
Republican (1921–1922)


Born in Vallejo, California on July 25, 1872[1] to Charles E. Bell and Catherine J. Bell (née Mills), he and his family moved to St. Helena, California in 1876 where he attended primary school at the Crystal Spring school.

At 18, he received a certificate to teach, doing so for a year and a half in northern Napa county, during which time he continued to study law. After his admission to the bar on July 25, 1893 (his 25th birthday), he began his political career as District Attorney of Napa County, California from 1895 to 1903. During this time, he was married to his wife, Anna Marie Muller, with whom he had one daughter, Maurine.[2]

With the backing of former San Francisco mayor and future U.S. Senator James D. Phelan, Bell was elected to the 58th Congress (1903-1905) representing California's 2nd district. While serving, he was a member of the House Irrigation of Arid Lands Committee. In the 1904 election, he was defeated by Republican Duncan E. McKinlay. He went on to run for Governor of California in 1906, 1910 and 1918, losing twice as a Democrat and once as an Independent. He was a delegate to the 1908 Democratic National Convention, where he gave William Jennings Bryan's nomination speech, and 1912 Democratic National Convention before later switching parties to become a Republican in 1921.[1]

Though Bell himself, representing California wine country, was not a prohibitionist, his mentor Phelan was a strong teetotaler. In order to accommodate both sides, he lobbied for a tax increase on wines with sugar, which came from out of state. In doing so, he made a move to regulate the consumption of alcohol which wouldn't hurting local vintners but would increase tax revenue (and decrease the likelihood of prohibition).[2]

On September 4, 1922, he was killed in a car crash in Marin County, California.[1] He is interred at Odd Fellows Cemetery in St. Helena.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d "Theodore A. Bell Killed in Auto Smash. Twice Candidate for Governor of California" (PDF). New York Times. September 5, 1922. Retrieved 2016-04-23.
  2. ^ a b Weber, Lin (17 September 2013). Prohibition in the Napa Valley: Castles Under Siege. The History Press.
  3. ^ Spencer, Thomas (2001). Where They're Buried. Clearfield. ISBN 0806348232.

Further readingEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Samuel D. Woods
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Duncan E. McKinlay
Party political offices
Preceded by
Franklin Knight Lane
Democratic nominee for Governor of California
1906, 1910
Succeeded by
J. B. Curtin
Preceded by
John Sharp Williams
Keynote Speaker at the Democratic National Convention
Succeeded by
Alton B. Parker
Preceded by
James Rolph
Democratic nominee for Governor of California
Succeeded by
Thomas L. Woolwine