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Bland, Richard Parks

Richard Parks Bland, 1835–99, American statesman, b. near Hartford, Ky. He taught in rural schools in Kentucky and Missouri before he went to the gold fields of California in 1855. He was a prospector, miner, lawyer, and local official in mining towns of California, Colorado, and Nevada, and after 10 years he returned to Missouri and small-town law practice. In 1872 he was elected to the House of Representatives, where he served (except for 1895–97) until his death. A champion of Western interests and particularly of the free coinage of silver, he was the author of the original bill that, after major modifications by William B. Allison, became the Bland-Allison Act of 1878. Bland was not satisfied with this or the succeeding compromise, the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890. He was a leader of the Western radicals who took over the Democratic national convention at Chicago in 1896, and was a leading candidate for the presidential nomination on the first three ballots. In the election he worked hard but futilely for the victory of William Jennings Bryan.

See W. V. Byars, An American Commoner (1900).

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