Vardaman, James Kimble

views updated

James Kimble Vardaman, 1861–1930, U.S. political leader, b. near Edna, Jackson co., Tex. Admitted to the Mississippi bar in 1881, he practiced law and was a newspaper editor before entering politics. He served (1890–96) in the Mississippi state assembly and was (1894) its speaker. After two unsuccessful campaigns (1895, 1899) for governor, Vardaman was elected (1903) after a campaign in which he exploited the racial prejudices of poor white farmers toward blacks. As governor (1904–8), he increased taxes on railroads and large corporations and initiated prison reforms. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1912, he vigorously opposed America's entry into World War I. Vardaman's vote against a declaration of war was responsible for his failure to be renominated in 1918.

See biography by W. F. Holmes (1970).