New biography recounts life, career of Iowa politician James B. Weaver
Author Robert B. Mitchell to speak and sign books in Iowa City, Des Moines

For immediate release September 15, 2008

 

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

(DES MOINES) – The author of a new biography of James B. Weaver, the 19th-century Iowa politician whose two campaigns for the White House helped alter the course of American politics, will talk about the book this month in Iowa City and Des Moines.

Author Robert B. Mitchell will discuss and sign copies of his book, Skirmisher: The Life, Times, and Political Career of James B. Weaver, during two different “Lunch & Learn” events:

Sept. 23, 2008 – Noon
State Historical Society of Iowa
Centennial Building
402 Iowa Avenue
Iowa City, Iowa

Sept. 24, 2008 – Noon
State Historical Building
600 E. Locust Street
Des Moines, Iowa

Both events are free and open to the public.

Skirmisher is the first full-length biography of Weaver published since 1919. Weaver ran twice for president, once as the nominee of the Greenback-Labor Party in 1880 and again as the Populist nominee in 1892, when he carried four states.

Each campaign helped to legitimize economic and political doctrines later adopted by Democrats and Republicans and changed the way presidential candidates seek the highest office in the land. Weaver also served three terms in Congress.

A devout Methodist, Weaver supported government ownership of the railroads, changes in monetary policy, a graduated income tax and the direct election of senators. Deeply held religious principles guided Weaver’s approach to politics, which he saw as a means of putting “the principles of the Galilean in motion among men.”

In addition to his eventful career in politics, Weaver’s dramatic life included three years of service in an Iowa infantry regiment during the Civil War. He fought with distinction at Fort Donelson, Shiloh and Corinth and was promoted to the rank of general after the war in honor of his record. As a teenager, he crossed the continent to prospect for gold in California.

Mitchell, a news editor living in Woodbridge, Va., is a 1980 graduate of Grinnell College. He is the author of articles on Weaver for the Washington Post and Iowa Heritage Illustrated, the popular history quarterly publication of the State Historical Society of Iowa.

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The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa's historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa's past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.

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