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James Robert Williams (December 27, 1850 - November 8, 1923) was a U.S. Representative from Illinois.

Born in Carmi, Illinois, Williams attended the common schools. He graduated from Illinois State Normal University at Bloomington (the school is now know as Illinois State University and has been relocated to Normal) in 1875 and from Union College of Law, Chicago, Illinois, in 1876. He was admitted to the bar in 1876 and returned home to practice in Carmi. He served as master in chancery 1880-1882. County judge of White County 1882-1886.

Williams was elected as a Democrat to the Fifty-first Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Richard W. Townsend. He was reelected to the Fifty-second and Fifty-third Congresses and served from December 2, 1889, to March 3, 1895.

Williams was a friend of William Jennings Bryan. Because of their friendship, Bryan made a whistle-stop visit to Carmi in 1896 to give a presidential campaign speech.

Williams was elected to the Fifty-sixth, Fifty-seventh, and Fifty-eighth Congresses (March 4, 1899-March 3, 1905).

In 1900, his name was presented to the National Convention at St. Louis, Missouri, as a candidate for vice-president. In 1902, the Chicago Chronicle said he was being groomed for president. "Bob Williams for President" headlined the Chicago Evening Post on November 9, 1903. In 1903, Illinois Democrats nominated Williams for the United States Senate. He did not win but received a letter from Williams Jennings Bryan, who expressed an interest in talking with him about plans for 1904. In 1904, he came in second place for the Democratic Vice Presidential nomination.

In 1904, Williams was defeated in his bid for reelection by Pleasant T. Chapman. After his term in the House of Representatives, he resumed the practice of his profession. He died in Loma Linda, California, November 8, 1923. He was interred in Maple Ridge Cemetery, Carmi, Illinois.

References

James Robert Williams http://www.state.il.us/HPA/Illinois%20History/South.pdf

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