Governnor James K. Vardaman

A Texas native, James K. Vardaman moved with his family to Yalobusha County, Mississippi, in 1868. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1881. He set up a law practice in Winona and edited the local newspaper. Vardaman moved to Greenwood, where he continued to practice law and edited and later published the Greenwood Commonwealth. Elected to the Mississippi legislature in 1890, he was chosen speaker of the house and ran unsuccessfully for governor twice. He served in Cuba in the Spanish-American War, rising to the rank of major, and is shown here in his Army uniform. Vardaman was elected governor in 1905, serving one term, and after one failed attempt, was elected to the U. S. Senate in 1912. He was defeated for reelection because of his opposition to the United States’ entering World War I. A populist who supported such progressive causes as public health and ending the convict leasing system, Vardaman was also known for his white supremacist and racist beliefs. Later in life, he moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where he died in 1930.

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