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  • Writer's pictureRicki King

There is no party of Lincoln

Pleasant W. (PW) Jones
“As far as Jones is concerned it is understood that he is honest, upright, a good business man, has all the qualifications necessary for a member of the board of supervisors except color and the republican leaders will see that he is defeated and don’t you forget it.”

Just because the Republican Party calls themselves the party of Lincoln does not mean they still represent what he stood for and haven’t for some time. There is no party of Lincoln anymore except in the Republican name is still used today. The Republican Party of Lincoln’s time moved to be more Democratic over time. In 2020 no party should be calling themselves the party of Lincoln. I hope in the 155 years since Lincoln’s death, the country has grown. I see us as citizen’s we are backsliding, but my hope and dream are we do not slide back 155 years.

Pleasant W. (P.W.) Jones was a colored man who lived in Centerville, Iowa, in the late 1800s just before the turn of the century. His interest in politics is first on display seven years after he moves to Iowa from Albermarle County, Virginia. On September 10, 1891, The Appanoose Iowegian ran an article on the 3rd district Senatorial Convention, and P. W. is a delegate. Six months later, he is an alternate at the 2nd ward Republican convention to nominate persons for the city ticket of Centerville. Two years after, in 1894, P. W. is again an alternate for State, and in 1896 a 2nd ward delegate on the Republican ticket. P. W. is interested in politics, and when Centerville’s own Francis Drake was to become Governor of Iowa, he was put on the reception committee to celebrate the win in 1895. Although at the beginning of this story, there is a statement of P. W. Jones’ race, none of the above opportunities mentions is race.

“A number of the colored people of Appanoose county have organized themselves into a body to be known as the McKinley Colored Republican Club of Appanoose county…” Everyone was encouraged to come regardless of race and politics, “by order of P. W. Jones, president …” A month later, in July 1896, the club was putting P. W.’s name into the Republican county convention to run for the office of the member of the Board of Supervisors.

The Centerville Journal seems to have been in support of Jones’ candidacy from the start.

July 9, 1896

“By viewing the republican county papers we learn that there will be a most excellent crop of republican candidates. If the delegates will pay close attention to the parties making the nominating speeches of said candidates in their county convention they will learn that h\they have many good men in their party. In conversation with one of the leading republican politicians of this city the name of P. W. Jones was mentioned in connection with the office of member of the board of supervisors and his probable nomination, when to our surprise the said republican leader laughed at the idea of a colored man asking for a county office. The republican party could not elect a single county officer if it was not for the vote of the colored men and they have a right to demand recognition. The party expects to control their votes but they never expect them to hold a county office. As far as Jones is concerned it is understood that he is honest, upright, a good business man, has all the qualifications necessary for a member of the board of supervisors except color and the republican leaders will see that he is defeated and don’t you forget it.”

August 6, 1896

“The republican leaders have about completed the slate for their convention next Saturday the bosses know who will be nominated and who will be cast over board. The arrangements have been made. It is claimed that the present Clerk of the court’s and the present Auditor’s names are on the slate. For some time P. W. Jones of his city, was favorably mentioned as a candidate for member of the Board of Supervisors, he is a man well qualified for the position, is honest, upright and would make a good members no doubt, but unfortunate for him he is a colored man, and the republicans bosses claim that they have a mortgage on the colored vote and they can be captured just before election and therefore no attention need be paid to them until latter. It Is safe to say that Jones will not receive the nomination. The republican chairman however sees a different organization this year with the colored men. On former occassion nothing was said about an organization of the colored voters until after the republican county ticket was placed in the field, and then they could not expect a place on the ticket, but this year they are organized and as they cast a big vote in this county they should have a right to name one candidate at least for a county office. The republican party could not elect their ticket if it did not receive the undivided support of the colored voters. But the bosses claim that their mortgage of the colored man will be sure to hold him in line with out any recognition in the county convention. There are others candidates who we might mention and who names appear in the papers as likely to receive the nomination but whom the bosses have decided against. These parties are mostly honest but are the victims of misplaced confidence. They still think the convention will nominate the candidates when in reallity the republican bosses of Centerville always select the candidate before day of the convention.”

At the convention, nominees for member of the Board of Supervisors were J. M. Walker, U. G. Bear, P. W. Jones, and James Martin. The voting took two ballots with Jones coming in second with 54 votes, and Walker was first with 77, Bear third with 42, and Martin in last with one vote. Jones also came in second in the next ballot with 42 votes, and Walker again won with 105 votes.

Going by a story written a few days later, the reporter from July was apparently still not happy with the outcome of the nominations. However, he had predicted it a month before.

August 13, 1896

“P. W. Jones, the colored candidate for Member of the Board, was defeated, as had been predicted in these columns. The only objection that could be urged against him was his color. And as we claimed sometime ago the bosses say they have a mortgage on the “niggers” and will vote them on election day to suit themselves. One good old republican gold bug remarked in the presence of some of the colored men, that they should be thankful enough to get to vote, and should not have the cheek to ask for office. The bosses say that they will be able to vote, every colored man in the county, next November, that the colored men will be presented with a large flag, mostly red and that will catch their votes, when the time comes.”

Leaders of the Republican party were having none of it and wrote a rebuttal to the above story published the following day.

August 14, 1896

“The Journal intimates that the Republican convention refused to nominate P. W. Jones for county supervisor only on account of his color. Such is not the case. Mr. Jones is a man qualified to fill the office, and that that fact is recognized is evidenced by the strong support he got in the convention. He was beaten, as was U. G. Bear, only because Mr. Walker’s candidacy was better organized and because Mr. Walker had only served one full term on the county board and it was thought that his valuable service to the interest of the county should be rewarded."

It seems P.W. Jones only ran for office is 1896. His name is not mentioned again concerning politics. We can wonder if what happened sored him on politics, or the death of his five children over the next two years, or was it his health and death of rheumatism in 1905.

Disclaimer: Pleasant W. (P.W.) Jones was my great-great-grandfather. He, along with his wife, Clara Grant Kinney, and two daughters Anna C. and Margaret E., brought my maternal line to Iowa.

The spellings and punctuation (or lack of) in transcriptions are verbatim.

Sources are supplied upon request.

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