I am working on a presentation for an OLLI class on Local History. (OLLI is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute — basically retirees teaching other retirees whatever they feel like teaching. It’s a fun and easy way to keep your brain ticking.) I have done other presentations in this class over the last couple of years. So far, they have let me come back.
I decided to talk about John Bidwell in California politics this time. It’s a topic that has always interested me, although I do not have a background in political science. But I thought it might be entertaining to get away from the turmoils of the present day and see what they were up to way back when.
My opening question will be “With what political party did John Bidwell affiliate?” He was active in politics, so what party did he belong to?
It all depends on which decade you are asking about. That is what makes it interesting, and what makes Bidwell a portrait of the changing trends in California politics.
1840–1860: “I was in those years an incorrigible Democrat.”
1860–mid-1870s: Republican or Union Party
1875–mid-1880s: People’s Independent Party (Anti-Monopolist)
1885-1900: Prohibition Party
That looks simple, if changeable, but it gets more complicated the deeper you dig. Come with me on a ride through the quickly changing landscape of 19th-century politics.