John Bidwell in Politics

Here’s an interesting question: What political party did John Bidwell belong to?

The first answer that probably comes to mind is the Prohibition Party. Most people in Chico know that John Bidwell was the Prohibitionist candidate for U.S. president in 1892. (In case you didn’t know, he lost to Grover Cleveland.)  But the Prohibition Party wasn’t founded until 1869. What was John Bidwell before he was a Prohibitionist?

Democrat?  Republican?  Some obscure special interest third party?  How about all three?

Yes, indeed.  Good old steady John Bidwell was all of those, and might have become governor of California on any one of those political tickets. Who knew he was so fickle?

Not really fickle, but as politics in California and in the United States changed over the course of the 19th century, he changed too.  From “incorrigible” Democrat (as he described himself), to Republican, to Anti-Monopolist, to Prohibitionist (with a nudge from Annie), Bidwell served his state and pursued his ambitions. In subsequent entries during this election year I’ll explore Bidwell’s political career and we’ll see what kind of politician he was.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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