In this study of Miles Poindexter, Insurgent Republican turned conservative, Howard W. Allen reaches beyond the traditional bounds of biography to present a history of the United States Congress during the Progressive era and the early years after World War I.
A congressman (1909–13)and a senator (1913–23), Miles Poindexter of Washington State was an outspoken, progressive reformer before World War I. He struggled to protect “the people” from “special interests,” particularly defending the interest of his section against eastern “colonialism.” A man with a penchant for absolute positions, Poindexter became caught up in the emotionalism of the Insurgent Republican revolt. At one time or another he championed Socialists, the IWW, the striking textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts—all unlikely causes for a middle-class lawyer from Spokane.
Regarding foreign policy, Poindexter was an uncompromising nationalist who, with Theodore Roosevelt, declared himself a member of the Progressive party in 1912.
After 1917 Poindexter actively tried to suppress opponents of the war. Following the war his targets were “Bolshevists” and other radicals. He also developed intense hostility toward Socialists, the IWW, and organized labor, fearing radicalism and labor. Reversing his former position, he allied himself with the eastern businessmen and regular Republicans in the Senate. Campaigning for the presidency in 1920, he appealed without success to the most conservative members of the party. He was defeated b a progressive Democrat in his 1922 bid for reelection to the Senate.
Allen examines the traditional sources—archival collections, newspaper files, and congressional reports. When he combines this material with a quantitative analysis of roll-call votes throughout Senator Poindexter’s years in Congress, he creates a remarkably useful method never before attempted in political biography.