Politics and John Bidwell

It’s an election year again and the day to cast your vote for president (and other offices) is just around the corner. The two major parties have put forth their candidates and many people are not happy with the choices before them.

Let’s forget about those two for a moment and take a look at another presidential candidate — Chico’s own John Bidwell. What were his political views? Which party did he support?

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John Bidwell
photograph

Most people in Chico know that John Bidwell was the Prohibitionist candidate for U.S. president in 1892. (It’s no surprise that he lost to Grover Cleveland.)  But Bidwell was active in politics long before the Prohibition Party came along. 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 he tried to become governor of California on each one of those political tickets. Who knew?

John Bidwell was not the type to lightly change his allegiance, 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 staunch 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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