JOHN B. VARDAMAN, Online Editor.
The historical material presented in this website is intended to give a broader, human, and sometimes humorous view of James Kimble Vardaman. Often derided as strictly a racist, Senator Vardaman actually had redeeming qualities. In contrast to his racial views and rhetoric, there are numerous documented cases where Governor Vardaman personally intervened to stop a lynching and took the would-be victim into custody for protection and a fair trail. As governor, JKV considered maintaining law and order his primary responsibiliy regardless of his personal views.
Except for the ugly shadow of racism, Vardaman was a revolutionary with a very progressive agenda that he aggressively pursued. In fact, his political enemies once criticized him as being a “Bolshevik.” Foremost, JKV reformed a barbaric and corrupt State prison system in Mississippi. Vardaman sought to reform education in many ways including a unified textbook commission and one single college board instead of one for each university. By all accounts Senator Vardaman was the only one of the Mississippi's Congressional delegation to advocate and vote for woman suffrage. Vardaman was one of the few southern senators to vote for legislation to end child labor. Furthermore, contrary to what some people might think, the Senator condemned anti-semitism.
Vardaman's reforms were intended to benefit the “common man/voter/taxpayer (and woman).” In return, his constituency idolized him. It was once said “Jesus Christ, Sears-Roebuck and James K. Vardaman are the only friend a poor man has.” His lifetime of achievement is especially impressive considering the fact James K. Vardaman had little formal education.
b. Jackson Co, Texas, 1861
= Editor's favorites
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"WOMAN SUFFRAGE" (12 Jun 1919) [Text]
What About Ireland? (24 Apr 1919)
"Why Britain Desires League of Nations" (19 June 1919)
Vardaman Rally Day (21 Sep 1921)
"Statement from Senator Vardaman" (7 Sept 1922)
"Greetings." [First Edition as Vardaman's Weekly] (24 Apr 1919) [Text]
"Vardaman Club Organized" (20 Jan 1911)
"VARDAMANISM in Mississippi" (21 Aug 1913) [Text]
FREE FREE (28 Nov 1908)
Vardaman's Sentiment (Hattiesburg Daily Progress, February 1903)
"The Vardaman Idea" (Saturday Evening Post, 27 April 1907)
Son (JKV, Jr) elopes
From JKV: Southern Commoner
Letter from Cuba about the deaths of 2 men in his unit. (1898)
James K. Vardaman was larger than life during his close to three decades as a public figure. This editor hopes visitors to this website enjoy reading about him. Many things can be said about James K. Vardaman, good and bad, but no one can say he say he was boring. Many episodes in "James K.'s" life would make great material for a Hollywood movie. Some of the highlights in this material were made specifically for comic value.
The “Great White Chief” is often criticized for his racist beliefs and he definitely deserves it. On the race issue this editor thinks JKV could be best described as “Mr. Jim Crow” and his “Jim Crowism” bordered on the absurd. While as U.S. Senator he led a drive to have black and white federal employees separated. Vardaman actively supported “Jim Crow” laws and other legislation to formally make blacks second-class citizens in respect to the law. In the interest of fairness, one must also give Governor Vardaman credit for actively enforcing blacks’ rights as citizens to due process and protection from mob violence. (This was actually a campaign promise.) In addition to stopping lynchings-in-progress Governor Vardaman hired Pinkerton detectives to infiltrate and investigate white groups that were harassing black communities in south Mississippi.
Vardaman was a very complex man who was a curious mixture of vile racism and otherwise progressive ideas that were almost visionary. He also often fought for people who could hardly help themselves: convicts, mentally ill, child labors, etc. Such efforts had to be a matter of principle with Vardaman since these people don’t normally vote.
James K. Vardaman went a long way from farm hand to national prominence. When reading his writings one can tell Vardaman had a very active and powerful intellect. He was clear in his thoughts and he didn’t mince words. Except for wanting to keep the black man “down”, he understood political freedom and advocated it for the common man and woman - worldwide. This editor would say Vardaman’s views were almost Libertarian. “James K.” also had keen insight into parts of the world outside the US. What Mississippians in 1922 were aware of the good work of Mohandas Gandhi in India?
This editor would like to thank Clint Bagley at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for his help as ninety-five percent of this material come from the State archives.
Also a big thanks to Henry Corley for the use of his scanner!
To paraphrase the editor of the print version...
"WHEN YOU FINISH READING THIS WEBSITE SEND A LINK TO A NEIGHBOR"
...hell, send it to everyone.
DOWN with the ANTIS!!!