JOHN B. VARDAMAN, Online Editor.

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The historical material presented in this website is intended to give a broader, human, and sometimes humorous view of James Kimble Vardaman. Often derided as strictly a racist, Senator Vardaman actually had redeeming qualities. In contrast to his racial views and rhetoric, there are numerous documented cases where Governor Vardaman personally intervened to stop a lynching and took the would-be victim into custody for protection and a fair trail. As governor, JKV considered maintaining law and order his primary responsibiliy regardless of his personal views.

Except for the ugly shadow of racism, Vardaman was a revolutionary with a very progressive agenda that he aggressively pursued. In fact, his political enemies once criticized him as being a “Bolshevik.” Foremost, JKV reformed a barbaric and corrupt State prison system in Mississippi. Vardaman sought to reform education in many ways including a unified textbook commission and one single college board instead of one for each university. By all accounts Senator Vardaman was the only one of the Mississippi's Congressional delegation to advocate and vote for woman suffrage. Vardaman was one of the few southern senators to vote for legislation to end child labor. Furthermore, contrary to what some people might think, the Senator condemned anti-semitism.

Vardaman's reforms were intended to benefit the “common man/voter/taxpayer (and woman).” In return, his constituency idolized him. It was once said “Jesus Christ, Sears-Roebuck and James K. Vardaman are the only friend a poor man has.” His lifetime of achievement is especially impressive considering the fact James K. Vardaman had practically NO formal education.


b. Jackson Co, Texas, 1861
m. Anna Robinson, 1884
Editor, Winona Advance, 1884
Editor, Greenwood Enterprise, 1890
State Representative, 1890-1896
   Speaker of the House, 1894
   (unanimously elected)
Founder, editor,
   Greenwood Commonwealth, 1896
Military Service in Cuba,
   Spanish-American War, 1898
Mississippi Governor, 1904-1908
Founder, Editor, The Issue, 1908
U.S. Senator, 1913-1919
d. Birmingham, Alabama, 1930


"Thank God for the discontent. 
     Let the world be free."
                         JKV, June 1919

       Quotable "James K."




Greenwood Enterprise
October 1895






Greenwood Commonwealth
July 1897







 Drink Coke!
The Issue
5 August 1910







The Issue
2 January 1909






The Issue
28 November 1908






The Issue
22 September 1911







The Issue
25 July 1918






The Issue
28 July 1911


 = Editor's favorites       = Funny      [Text] = Image has been converted back to text

  • From the pages of Vardaman's Weekly (pub. 1919-1923)
    • Woman Suffrage, etc.
               "Woman Suffrage" (12 June 1919)   [Text]
               Tennessee Passes Suffrage Amendment (19 August 1920)    [Text]
               "Progress of Women" (8 June 1922)   [Text]
               Speech in U.S. Senate (6 July 1922) 
               "Three Movements affecting Women" (17 August 1922)

    • Humanitarian Issues
               "Union Labor" (5 May 1921)
               "Friend of Human Rights" (20 July 1922)   [Text]
               Prison Reform (17 August 1922)
               "Union Label" (12 October 1922)
    • Irish Independence from Britain
               "What About Ireland?" (24 April 1919)
               "Condition of the Irish People" (19 June 1919)   [Text]
               "The Irish President Coming" (25 March 1920)    [Text]
               "The Irish Question" (8 April 1920)    [Text]
               "The Crucifixion of Ireland" (15 June 1920)
               "Horrible to Contemplate" (9 September 1920)   [Text]
               "Ireland Free." (19 January 1922)   [Text]
               "The Irish Should Be Moderate." (16 February 1922)
               "Unjust to the Irish." (30 March 1922)
               "Poor Ireland." (22 July 1922)
    • Foreign Affairs
               "Why Britain Desires League of Nations" (19 June 1919)    [Text]
               "Shall America Police The World?" (26 June 1919)   [Text]
               "Armenia First! America Last" (10 June 1920)
               "Trouble in India." (2 February 1922)    [Text]
    • Jewish Community
               "The Jews" (21 June 1921) 
               "...the Hebrews" (7 July 1921)
               "Ford's Nasty Fight Against The Jews" (5 January 1922)   [Text]
    • Senate Campaign of 1922

              The 1922 campaign was a failed attempt at a political comeback. By some
              accounts James K. Vardaman was talked in to it by his loyal friends and
              supporters. JKV was still dogged by his opposition to America fighting in WW I.
              Also, he did almost no campaigning due to his declining health. Despite this
              Vardaman still lead by 8,593 votes in the first primary and garnered 48% of
              the vote in a runoff. No bad for a man that made no campaign speeches.

               Vardaman Rally Day (22 September 1921)
               "Concedes Vardaman's Election" (13 October 1921)
               "Reasons for..." (1 June 1922)   [Text]
               "People's Senator" (8 June 1922)   [Text]
               "Judge Vardaman by his Record in Senate" (15 June 1922)
               Vardaman Rally ad (29 June 1922)
               "Deadly Parallel" (27 July 1922) 
               Go to the polls August 15th...(27 July 1922)
               "Reply to Wilson Letter" (3 August 1922)
               Primary vote count with map (17 August 1922)
               "Vardaman Leads..." (24 August 1922)
               "From a Soldier Boy" (24 August 1922)
               Runoff vote count with map (7 Sept 1922)

    • Post Campaign of 1922
               "Statement from Senator Vardaman" (7 Sept 1922)    [Text]
               "Put Up or Shut Up" (21 Sept 1922) 
               From a Veteran of 1861-65 (12 Oct 1922)
               "Challenge Not Accepted" (19 Oct 1922)    
    • Other articles from Vardaman's Weekly
               "Greetings." [First Edition as Vardaman's Weekly] (24 April 1919)   [Text]
               "The People Are Waking Up" (19 June 1919)   [Text]
               "A Slander of the Man Who Toils" (19 June 1919)   [Text]
               "To Ignore Me and Lie About Me" (26 June 1919)
               "Let Us Meet the Issue" (8 July 1919)
               "Andrew Carnegie Dead" (14 August 1919)   [Text]
               "Roosevelt Monument" (11 September 1919)
               "Must Stimulate His Body Before Mind Works" (11 September 1919) 
               "La Follette Vindicated By The People" (29 April 1920)   [Text]
               "The Way It Looks to 'Jawn' Sharp" (5 January 1922) 
               "Organize a Vardaman Club" (20 April 1922)
               "Vardaman Club Meeting" (27 April 1922)
               "Biographical Sketches" (15 June 1922)
               "Vardaman Vardaman" (22 June 1922)
               Poem (13 July 1922)
               "Still in the Service..." Cartoon (November 1922)

                        ''The 'Cattle' will be there''

  • From the pages of The Issue (Predecessor to Vardaman's Weekly - pub. 1908-1919)
    • First edition of The Issue
               Vol. 1 No. 1 (1 February 1908)
               Create one college board and save money (1 February 1908)
               "Men Afraid Themselves" and "Simplicity of Happiness" (1 February 1908)
               Subscribe Today! (1 February 1908) 
    • Prohibition of Alcohol

              Prohibition was very likely JKV's first crusade, perhaps even before race.
              While a young editor in Winona he led a successful campaign to make the
              town "dry." Though successful, Vardaman left town because the fight was so
              bitter. While in Greenwood two men connected to the "liquor traffic" actually
              tried to assassinate him. The plot failed and one of the assailants was killed
              in the resulting gun battle.

               "Prohibition for Mississippi - Thank God" (2 January 1909) 
               "Temperance Should Win" and "Who Did It?" (9 January 1909)
               "Close Joints" and "Horrible, If True" (14 May 1910)

    • Senate Campaign of 1911

              The victory of 1911 was, indeed, the Zenith of James K. Vardaman's career.
              Having previously been robbed of a U.S. Senate seat by the infamous
              "secret caucus" Vardaman's constintuency saw 1911 as "payback time." When
              reading these articles there is no doubt in the minds of the "Vardaman camp" what
              the outcome would be. JKV ran away with 60% of the vote in a heated 3-man race,
              including the incumbent who received 16%. This is a great story of the people
              fighting back and winning after a very corrupt deed in the Mississippi Legislature.

               "Vardaman Club Organized" (20 January 1911)
               "Seventy-Five Per Cent for Vardaman" (20 January 1911)   [Text]
               "Vardaman Opens Campaign" (3 March 1911) 
               Vardaman's Speaking Engagements (14 April 1911)
               Vardaman, Oh Vardaman! (23 June 1911)      [Text]
               "Thousands of People Heard JKV" (14 July 1911) 
               "Victim of the Secret Caucus" (July 1911)
               "Guilty as Charged" and "Address to the People" (July 1911)
               "COME...HELP CELEBRATE" (4 August 1911) 
               "Congradulatory Telegrams" (4 August 1911)
               "Vardaman's Address" (11 August 1911) 
               "Campaign Lies.", etc. (11 August 1911)
               1911 Democratic Senate Primary Vote with Map (25 August 1911) 

    • Edited by Oliphant, Gray, et al during JKV's Senate term (1913-1919)
               "VARDAMANISM in Mississippi" (21 August 1913)    [Text]
               "Issue Must be Faithful" (14 January 1915)
               "Vardaman Wins Fight on Claims" (29 March 1917)
               "Picture in Capital Paper" (13 December 1917)
               National Child Labor Bill - from Commercial-Appeal (25 July 1918)    [Text]
               "The People Have Lost" (22 August 1918)
               1918 Primary vote count with map (22 August 1918)
               "Report Vindicates Vardaman" (19 September 1918) 
    • Other articles from The Issue

              Some of these articles allude to the popular indignation over the "secret
              caucus" in January-February 1910 and the resulting storm brewing over the
              campaign in summer of 1911.

               FREE FREE (28 November 1908)
               "Very Important --- To Me" (25 September 1909)
               "Great Battle for the Right" - from Vicksburg Post (19 February 1910)   [Text]
               Vardaman lectures at Hot Springs - from Hot Springs News (23 February 1910)
               "Vardaman Day in [Oxford] Lafayette" (19 March 1910) 
               "Vardaman for the Senate" (19 March 1910) 
               "As To That Free Pass" (30 April 1910) 
               "The Way It Looks To An Outsider " (30 April 1910)
               "Much Twisting and Turning" (30 April 1910)
               "Passing Strange" ...Reflections on term as Governor (22 July 1910)
               Vardaman Day...Issue Day (21 October 1910)
               "The Vardaman Record" (25 November 1910) 
               "Mr. Vardaman's Mission" (22 September 1911)

                      ''Large increasing 'herds' ''

  • From other sources

               Vardaman's Sentiment (Hattiesburg Daily Progress, February 1903)
               Invitation to Inaugural Ceremonies (1904)
               To Law Enforcement Officers of Mississippi (circa 1904)   [Text]
               Lynching Prevented (Clarion-Ledger, 10 and 12 March 1904)
               "Uniform Text Book Bill", etc. (Clarion-Ledger, 15 March 1904)
               Invitation to Reception by Governor and Mrs. JKV (1906)
               "Colored" paper endorses Vardaman (1907)   [Text]
               "Percy Hooted..." (Vicksburg Evening Post, 6 July 1910)  
               " the People" (Vicksburg Evening Post, 22 October 1910)  
               "Vardaman Has Won" (Clarion-Ledger, 3 August 1911)  
               "Old Negro Tramps to [DC] (Jackson Daily News, 3 May 1913)  
               "Home Again" (Kosciusko Star Ledger, 26 September 1913)

    • Speeches, letters, etc. by James K. Vardaman

               Speech as governor (1904)   [Text]
               Thanksgiving Day Proclamation (1907)
               Letter regarding Democratic national convention (1912)   [Text]

    • Campaign Material

               Button - Governor's race (1903)
               Hanging Piece - Senate Race (1911)
               Leaflet - Senate Race (1922)
               Postcard - Senate Race (1922)

    • Commentary, speeches, etc. regarding James K. Vardaman

               "The Vardaman Idea" (Saturday Evening Post, 27 April 1907)   [Text]
               Editorial Cartoon (Washington Evening Star, 7 August 1907)
               Death of James K. Vardaman - Speech by Hon. John E. Rankin in the U.S. House   [Text]
               "JKV Dies" (Daily Clarion-Ledger, 26 June 1930)
               Commentary - author unknown   [Text]
               "An Editorial" - presumably in the Jackson Daily News   [Text]
               Formal Dedication of Portait (Clarion-Ledger, 8 May 1936)
               An Exaggeration (Pittsburgh Courier, 23 January 1960)
               "The Man Who Invented THE REDNECK" (Commercial Appeal, 21 March 1965)   [Text]
               Good Piece by Clayton Rand (Printed by Mississippi Power & Light)   [Text]
               " 'Nasty Old' Vardaman sees through politics.." (Clarion-Ledger, May 1996)   [Text]
               "Controversy linked to election of [JKV]" (Delta Democrat Times, 20 April 1997)   [Text]

    • From the scrapbooks of Senate term, kept by Mary Dinkins, long time secretary of JKV

              These 3 scrapbooks are at the Mississippi archives. Contained in these volumes
             are countless articles that range from the mundane to absolutely hilarious.

               Son (JKV, Jr) elopes
               "Vardamans are Soldiers"
               "Who's Who" (Saturday Evening Post, August 1913)     [Text]
                "President Wilson Throws Down The Gauntlet to United States
                                Senator James K. Vardaman" (Chicago Paper, March 1914)     [Text]
               "[JKV] Failed to Prove 'Fire Eater'" (April 1914)     [Text]
               "Vardaman in White, Summer is here" (Commercial-Appeal, May 1914)   
               Panama Tolls Law (Newark Evening Star et al, May 1914)   [Text]
               JKV supports La Follette Seaman's Act (Ripley Sentinel, April 1915)   [Text]
               JKV lectures at Oklahoma College for Woman (October 1914)   [Text]
               "Vardaman will not leave Capital" (Greenwood Enterprise, Sept. 1917)   [Text]

    • Professional Speaking tours

              This editor was surprised to learn that soon after JKV finished his term
             as governor he was in great demand as a professional speaker.
             (Actually, it is not too surprising considering the fact he was so spellbinding
             as political speaker.) Vardaman continued his speaking tours well into his years
             in the U. S. Senate. "James K." literally traveled the country for weeks or months at
             a time. He often spoke to groups that numbered in the thousands and, though his
              lecture was often around 2 hours, his audience was captivated. Please also note
             "JKV lectures at Oklahoma..." in the section immediately above.

               The Mutual Lyceum Bureau Brochure (1911)   [Text]
               The Coit Lyceum Bureau Brochure (1911)   [Text]
               "Blurps" about Vardaman on speaking tour
               Publicity shot

                    (Credit: The brochure and publicity images were pulled from the
                        website of the Library of Congress)

    • Photos

               From JKV: Southern Commoner
               Suitable for Framing
               Inauguration Day (1904)
               With William Jennings Bryan (1906)
               JKV with son and grandson (circa 1923)
               Mrs. JKV with 2 two grandchildren (circa 1923)
               Mary Dinkins, JKV longtime secretary and "keeper of the scrapbook" (circa 1923)

    • Personal

               Letter from Cuba about the deaths of 2 men in his unit. (1898)
               Handwritten letter from Cuba to step-son. Not very legible (1898)
               Christmas Card (circa 1917)
               Letter to step-son. Mentions senate campaign and President Wilson. (1918) 

    • Funeral and Final Resting Place of James K. Vardaman

               "Thousands Unite" (Jackson Daily News, 27 June 1930)
               "Vardaman Buried" (Jackson Daily News, 28 June 1930)
               Map of Lakewood Cemetary
               Map of "Part 6" at Lakewood
               Photos of Gravesite

    • Links

               Bio on U.S. Congress Website
               Mississippi History Now: JKV
               "The Campaign to End Child Labor"
               Vardaman Sweet Potato Festival
               Vardaman Honda
               Martial Art Motivations
               Hank Hardy Track Club





    Annual subscriptions may be remited to...

    John Vardaman
    PO Box 1024
    Jackson, MS 39215


    James K. Vardaman was larger than life during his close to three decades as a public figure. This editor hopes visitors to this website enjoy reading about him. Many things can be said about James K. Vardaman, good and bad, but no one can say he say he was boring. Many episodes in "James K.'s" life would make great material for a Hollywood movie. Some of the highlights in this material were made specifically for comic value.

    The “Great White Chief” is often criticized for his racist beliefs and he definitely deserves it. On the race issue this editor thinks JKV could be best described as “Mr. Jim Crow” and his “Jim Crowism” bordered on the absurd. While as U.S. Senator he led a drive to have black and white federal employees separated. Vardaman actively supported “Jim Crow” laws and other legislation to formally make blacks second-class citizens in respect to the law. In the interest of fairness, one must also give Governor Vardaman credit for actively enforcing blacks’ rights as citizens to due process and protection from mob violence. (This was actually a campaign promise.) In addition to stopping lynchings-in-progress Governor Vardaman hired Pinkerton detectives to infiltrate and investigate white groups that were harassing black communities in south Mississippi.

    Vardaman was a very complex man who was a curious mixture of vile racism and otherwise progressive ideas that were almost visionary. He also often fought for people who could hardly help themselves: convicts, mentally ill, child labors, etc. Such efforts had to be a matter of principle with Vardaman since these people don’t normally vote.

    James K. Vardaman went a long way from farm hand to national prominence. When reading his writings one can tell Vardaman had a very active and powerful intellect. He was clear in his thoughts and he didn’t mince words. Except for wanting to keep the black man “down”, he understood political freedom and advocated it for the common man and woman - worldwide. This editor would say Vardaman’s views were almost Libertarian. “James K.” also had keen insight into parts of the world outside the US. What Mississippians in 1922 were aware of the good work of Mohandas Gandhi in India?


    This editor would like to thank the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for their help as ninety-five percent of this material come from the State archives.

    Also a big thanks to Henry Corley for the use of his scanner!



    To paraphrase the editor of the print version...


    ...hell, send it to everyone.

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