William Alexander Harris
Politician. Populist. Born: October 29, 1841, Loudon County, Virginia. Died: December 20, 1909, Chicago, Illinois. Served in U.S. House of Representatives: March 4, 1893, to March 3, 1895. Served in U.S. Senate: March 4, 1897, to March 4, 1903.
Born on October 29, 1841, in Loudon County, Virginia, Harris graduated from Columbia College (later George Washington University) in Washington, D.C., in 1859, and Virginia Military Institute (VMI) at Lexington, Virginia, in 1861. He served three years in the Confederate army (Army of Northern Virginia) and then came to Kansas in 1865 as a civil engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad, a position he held for three years. Harris settled in Lawrence in 1868 and was appointed railroad agent for the sale of Delaware Reservation and other lands. In 1884 he moved to Linwood where he established a prosperous farm and stock raising operation-Harris became well know for developing a herd of Scotch Cruickshank Shorthorns and as a founder of the American Shorthorn Association. Harris was elected to an at-large seat in the Congress as a Populist in 1892 (served, March 4, 1893-March 3, 1895) but was unsuccessful in a bid for reelection two years later. Back in Kansas he was elected to replace Lucien Baker in the state senate in 1896, after Baker was elevated to the U.S. Senate on March 4, 1895, and was elected to the U.S. Senate himself as a Democrat (actually, a fusionists-Populist/Democrat) in 1897. Harris served in the upper chamber until 1903, having made an unsuccessful bid for reelection. He was a candidate for governor in 1906 and died December 20, 1909, at Chicago; he was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Lawrence.
Entry: Harris, William Alexander
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: June 2011
Date Modified: May 2012
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