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William Alexander Harris (Kansas)

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Title: William Alexander Harris (Kansas)  
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Subject: Third party officeholders in the United States, 1904 Democratic National Convention, List of George Washington University people, William Alexander Harris, Chester I. Long
Collection: 1841 Births, 1909 Deaths, Confederate States Army Officers, George Washington University Alumni, Kansas Populists, Kansas State Senators, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Kansas, People from Page County, Virginia, People of Virginia in the American Civil War, People's Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, People's Party Members of the United States House of Representatives from Kansas, People's Party United States Senators, United States Senators from Kansas, Virginia Military Institute Alumni
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

William Alexander Harris (Kansas)

William Alexander Harris
United States Senator
from Kansas
In office
March 4, 1897 – March 4, 1903
Preceded by William A. Peffer
Succeeded by Chester I. Long
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kansas's At-large district
In office
March 4, 1893 – March 3, 1895
Preceded by Lewis Hanback
Succeeded by Richard W. Blue
Personal details
Born (1841-10-29)October 29, 1841
Luray, Virginia
Died December 20, 1909(1909-12-20) (aged 68)
Chicago, Illinois
Political party Populist

William Alexander Harris (October 29, 1841 – December 20, 1909) was a United States Representative and Senator from Kansas.


  • Early life and education 1
  • The Civil War Years 2
  • Early Life in Kansas 3
  • Political life 4
  • Late Life and Agricultural Pursuits 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life and education

A son of U.S. Congressman Washington, D.C., in 1859. A year later, he matriculated as part of the third or sophomore class at the Virginia Military Institute on 16 January 1860. Official records reveal that he matriculated from Page County, though he actually had done so from Pike County, Missouri. In a class composed of future notables such as future commanding officer of the Stuart Horse Artillery, Roger Preston Chew, Harris fared well in class standing, graduating early in December, 1861 as 7 of 35.

The Civil War Years

After a brief stint as drillmaster with an artillery company formed in Page County, Harris was assigned to duty with Col. William N. Pendleton and, in the same month (Nov. 1861) transferred as assistant adjutant general on the staff of General Cadmus Wilcox. Promoted to captain in January 1862, Harris resigned from Wilcox’s staff in July 1862 and was assigned as a lieutenant and acting ordnance officer in Gen. Daniel Harvey Hill’s division. Promoted to the temporary rank of captain in the spring of 1863, Harris was yet reassigned and named Chief of Ordnance of Gen. Robert E. Rodes’ division. Following the loss at Gettysburg, Harris deserted from the army feeling that further effort was futile. However, some records reveal that he may have had other reasons for leaving the army in that he was denied a transfer to Major Harry W. Gilmor’s cavalry battalion.

Early Life in Kansas

In 1865, Harris and his Page County-native bride, Mary Lionberger, moved to Kansas. Shortly thereafter, Harris was employed as a civil engineer in the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad until 1868; that year, he moved to Lawrence, Kansas. He was appointed agent for the railroad companies in the sale of the Delaware Reservation and other lands, and in 1884 moved to Linwood, Leavenworth County and engaged in agricultural pursuits and stock raising.

Political life

Following in his father's footsteps, Harris eventually sought a life in politics. He was elected as a Populist member to the Fifty-third Congress (March 4, 1893 - March 4, 1895) and was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1894. He was a member of the Kansas Senate in 1895 and 1896, and was elected as a U.S. senator from Kansas (March 4, 1897, to March 4, 1903). He was an unsuccessful candidate for the governorship of Kansas in 1906. Harris is believed to have been the only Confederate veteran ever elected to any office of importance in Kansas.

Late Life and Agricultural Pursuits

Resuming his agricultural interests, Harris was extremely popular in the agriculture circles for his raising shorthorn cattle. Retiring from political life, Harris later became the vice president of the Denver, Laramie & Northwestern Railroad. Harris died in Chicago at the home of his sister,[1] where he had gone to work with the National Livestock Association, in 1909; interment was in Oak Hill Cemetery, Lawrence, Kansas.


  1. ^ Blackmar, Frank Wilson (1912). Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Embracing Events, Institutions, Industries, Counties, Cities, Towns, Prominent Persons, Etc. Standard Publishing Company. p. 812. 
  • William Alexander Harris at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Moore, Robert H. II, Short Historical Sketches of Page County, Virginia and Its People, Volume 2 ("The Harris family in Page County"); Heritage Books, Inc., 2005, pp. 193–194.

External links

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Lewis Hanback
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kansas's at-large congressional district

March 4, 1893 – March 3, 1895
Succeeded by
Richard W. Blue
United States Senate
Preceded by
William A. Peffer
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Kansas
Served alongside: Lucien Baker, Joseph R. Burton
Succeeded by
Chester I. Long
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