Jones, Wesley Livsey, 1863-1932

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1863-10-09
Death 1932-11-19

Biographical notes:

Influential Washington State legislator, Wesley Livsey Jones (1863-1932), was involved in legislation to develop Alaska and to create levees in the Mississippi River Valley. Born near Bethany in Moultrie County, Illinois, Jones attended Southern Illinois College, studied law, and subsequently started a law practice in Decatur, Illinois. In 1889, Jones moved his law practice to North Yakima, Washington. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1899 as a Republican and served a total a five terms (March 4, 1899 to March 3, 1909). Jones was elected to the United States Senate in 1909 and was re-elected for three succeeding terms. He served as the Republican whip from 1924 to 1929 and was chairman of several committees including Fisheries, Commerce, and Appropriations. In 1932, Jones lost his bid for a fifth term shortly before his death.

From the description of Wesley L. Jones photograph collection [graphic], 1910-1927 bulk (1927). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 648892362

Washington state politician; served as a state representative and senator.

Jones chose law as his profession, and set up a practice in Yakima, Washington in 1889, shortly before Washington achieved statehood. He quickly became involved with the new state's Republican party, and was nominated to run for the House of Representatives in the 1898 elections. The Republican slate in Washington swept the election, and Jones into office. He served in the house for 10 years before running successfully for the senate in 1908. He described himself as a "conservative progressive", and a desire for compromise and an aversion to controversy characterized his political career. He was not an unquestioning adherent to laissez-faire philosophy, and rose to become the Republican whip and chairman of the Appropriations Committee. He sponsored the Federal Water Power Act, and promoted irrigation in the Pacific Northwest and the development of the Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton. He also supported Prohibition, and in 1929 sponsored what became known as the "Jones Act", which stiffened the penalties for violating the Volstead Act. He ran unsuccessfully for a 5th term in 1932, and died just a few weeks later.

From the description of Wesley L. Jones papers 1896-1932 (bulk 1908-1932). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 40004464

Wesley Livsey Jones was born on an Illinois farm in 1863, just days after his father died while serving in the Union army. Jones became a lawyer, and at the age of 26 he moved his practice to North Yakima (now Yakima). He quickly became involved with the Republican Party and was nominated to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1898. The Republican slate in Washington swept the elections, whisking Jones into office. He served in the House for ten years before running successfully for the U.S. Senate in 1908. He described himself a “conservative progressive”; a desire for compromise and an aversion to controversy characterized his political style. When many Republicans bolted to form the Progressive Party in 1912, Jones remained a “regular” Republican but moderated the dispute and helped pave the way for the re-integration of Washington’s Progressives in 1916.

Jones rose to become the Republican whip and served as chairman of the powerful Appropriations and Commerce Committees. Jones unflaggingly promoted federal investment in the Pacific Northwest; he led the development of the Puget Sound Navy Yard at Bremerton, successfully championed several federal irrigation projects in the region, and drafted the Jones Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which stipulated that only American ships could carry cargo between American ports (which made Alaska dependent on Seattle-owned shipping firms). Jones also helped craft the compromise which became the Federal Water Power Act of 1920. Jones staunchly advocated Prohibition throughout his career and sponsored several failed bills to tighten enforcement of the Volstead Act in the 1920s. While this “dry” stance initially increased his popularity, Jones seemed out of touch and puritanical in the late-1920s as Washingtonians increasingly viewed Prohibition as a failure. Jones ran for a fifth term in 1932, but was hampered both by deteriorating health and by association with an unpopular party headed by the unpopular President Hoover. Just as a Republican landslide had swept him into Congress thirty-four years earlier, a Democratic landslide swept him out in 1932 and replaced him with the liberal Homer Bone. Jones died less than three weeks after his defeat.

From the guide to the Wesley L. Jones papers, 1896-1932, (University of Washington Libraries Special Collections)

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Subjects:

  • Homeless camps--Photographs
  • Legislators--Photographs
  • Public works
  • Floods--Photographs
  • African Americans--Photographs
  • Prohibition
  • Washington (State)

Occupations:

  • Legislators--United States
  • Politicians--United States

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • Washington (State) (as recorded)
  • Washington (State) (as recorded)
  • Mississippi (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Southern States (as recorded)
  • Mississippi River Valley (as recorded)
  • Alaska (as recorded)
  • Arkansas--Clarendon (as recorded)