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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the James Baird Weaver Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1836-1894
Creator: Weaver, James Baird (1833-1912)
Extent: 6.00 folders.
Collection Number: MSC0048
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Populist leader. Weaver's correspondence with his wife; other Weaver family papers. Includes material on Davis Co., Iowa, and experiences in the Civil War.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs: Box 1

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.


Preferred Citation: James Baird Weaver Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

James Baird Weaver was born in Dayton, Ohio, on June 12, 1833. He moved with his parents to Michigan and then to Iowa, where they settled on a farm in Bloomfield. He studied law in Bloomfield from 1853-1856. He apparently supported himself with clerk jobs at this time, because their granddaughter remembers the story of his meeting his wife. He was working as a clerk in Mannings store when Clara Vinson bought a spool of thread from him. He graduated from Cincinnati Law School in April 1856, and he and Clara were married on July 13, 1858 in Keosauqua, Iowa. He commenced the practice of law in Bloomfield.
He enlisted as a private in the Second Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry in April 1861, where he rose to the rank of Brevet Brigadier General of Volunteers. He was mustered out of the army on May 27, 1864.
He was elected district attorney for the second judicial district in Iowa in 1866 and served four years. He spent his lifetime in politics and the law, running twice for president on third party tickets - in 1880 for the National Greenback party (for which he received 350,000 votes) and in 1892 on the People's Party ticket (for which he received twenty-two electoral votes). He served a term in Congress from 1879-1881; and again as a Democratic and Greenback-Laborite to the fiftieth congress from 1885-1889. He was unsuccessful at running for re-election in 1888. He was mayor of Colfax, Iowa from 1901-1903.
James Baird Weaver died in Des Moines on February 6, 1912, following several heart attacks.

This collection is comprised mostly of correspondence between James Baird Weaver and Clara Vinson Weaver, and most of the letters are from the Civil War period. There are a few letters from others in the Weaver family and a copy of a speech Weaver delivered in the House of Representatives.

Browse by Series:

  • Box 1:
  • Newspaper clippings - November 30, 1836; September 22, 1838; other dates
    Newspaper not identified. Column headed "Trumpet of Liberty." Includes "Further Objections to Martin Van Buren for President," an article from the New York Advertiser and articles from other newspapers on various subjects.
  • Personal correspondence of J.B. Weaver and Clara Vinson - 1858
  • Personal correspondence of J.B. Weaver to Clara Vinson Weaver - 1860-1864
  • Personal correspondence of Clara Vinson Weaver to J. B. Weaver - 1862-1864
  • Miscellaneous correspondence
  • Two letters from G. Vinson to his father (brother of Clara Vinson Weaver), August 19 and September 27 - 1937
    Four pages each
  • Letter from J.B. Weaver to Julius Strouse concerning war experience
    Includes 2 typewritten copies
  • Letter from Malechi Vinson, oldest brother of Clara Vinson Weaver, to niece Maude Weaver, January 22 - 1892
  • Letter from Malechi Vinson to Clara Vinson Weaver, August 7 - 1894
  • Letter to Maudie from "Papa"
  • Love letter from J.B. Weaver to Clara Vinson
    Undated, 4 pages
  • Love letter from Clara Vinson to J.B. Weaver
    Undated, 4 pages
  • Letter to "Clara" from S.M. Henry
  • Miscellaneous
  • Copy of speech delivered by Hon. J.B. Weaver in the House of Representatives entitled "The Tariff and the Trusts," May 16 - 1888
  • Photograph of unnamed woman