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James Kimble Vardaman


In office
1913–1919
Preceded by Le Roy Percy
Succeeded by Byron P. Harrison

In office
January 19, 1904 – January 21, 1908
Lieutenant John Prentiss Carter
Preceded by Andrew H. Longino
Succeeded by Edmond Noel

Born July 26, 1861(1861-07-26)
Jackson County, Texas
Died June 25, 1930 (aged 68)
Birmingham, Alabama
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Anna Burleson Robinson
Religion Methodist
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Battles/wars Spanish–American War

James Kimble Vardaman (July 26, 1861 – June 25, 1930) was an American politician from Mississippi.

Early life

Vardaman was born near Edna, Jackson County, Texas and moved in 1868 with his parents to Yalobusha County, Mississippi. He went on to study law and became editor of a newspaper, the Greenwood Commonwealth (still in publication as of 2008).

Political career

As a Democrat, Vardaman served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1890 to 1896 and was speaker of that body in 1894. He was a major in the United States Army during the Spanish–American War.

After two failed attempts in 1895 and 1899, Vardaman won the governorship in 1903 and served one 4-year term (1904–1908), carrying farmers and people in the central part of the state who favored a populist agenda. He advocated a policy of racism against African-Americans, even to the point of supporting lynching in order to maintain his vision of white supremacy.[1] He was known as the "Great White Chief".[2]

Vardaman was elected to the U.S. Senate and served one term lasting from 1913 until 1919, having been defeated in his reelection bid in 1918. The main factor in his defeat was his opposition to the Declaration of War which had enabled the United States to enter World War I. Vardaman sought to return to the Senate in 1922, but was defeated in the Democratic runoff by Congressman Hubert Stephens [1].

Vardaman was known for his unscrupulous speeches and quotes. Vardaman called Theodore Roosevelt a "little, mean, coon-flavored miscegenationist."[3]

After Booker T. Washington had dined with President Theodore Roosevelt, Vardaman said the White House was "so saturated with the odor of the nigger that the rats have taken refuge in the stable."[4]

Vardaman, referring to the appearance of Booker T. Washington in politics, said: "I am just as much opposed to Booker T. Washington as a voter as I am to the coconut-headed, chocolate-colored typical little coon who blacks my shoes every morning."[5]

References

Political offices
Preceded by
Andrew H. Longino
Governor of Mississippi
1904-1908
Succeeded by
Edmond Noel
United States Senate
Preceded by
Le Roy Percy
United States Senator (Class 2) from Mississippi
1913-1919
Served alongside: John Sharp Williams
Succeeded by
Pat Harrison
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