Bidwell’s Political Views

A snippet from a letter by John Bidwell gives a glimpse into his political views in 1891. The image may be difficult to make out — it reads as follows:

What political party do you belong to? As to myself, I am a Prohibitionist – have lost all faith in the old parties – they are corrupt – non-progressive – controlled by the liquor and foreign vote. I believe in progress – that Americans should rule this county – that all the corrupt rings and monopolies must be overthrown – and that women should be given the ballot.


Bidwell wrote the letter to Nicolas “Cheyenne” Dawson in 1891. Dawson was one of the few members of the 1841 emigrant party to California still surviving. He was living in Texas, and wrote to Bidwell for news about others in their party.

John Bidwell considered himself a progressive — he stood for a number of social reforms — not only prohibition of alcohol, but also control of monopolies, educational reform, restrictions on immigration, the Australian ballot, and votes for women.

When Bidwell ran for president in 1982 he only got 2% of the national vote, but one of those votes came from Texas, where Nicolas Dawson voted for his old traveling companion.



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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