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Book/Printed Material Fifty years on the firing line,

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  • Fifty years on the firing line,


  • James W. Witham, born in 1856, was a journalist and advocate for the rights and concerns of farmers. In Fifty Years on the Firing Line, Witham traces his childhood in Ohio and his political coming of age in the Midwest during the mid-nineteenth century. While working as a farm laborer in Nebraska and Iowa, Witham started canvassing for farmer's rights in a farmer's paper, The Western Rural, a practice he continued for many years. In the fall of 1878, he met the populist leader, Gen. James B. Weaver, the first of many influential political leaders who became the subjects of his writing. He wrote about the origins of the Farmer's Alliance organization while playing a role in its formation. By 1882, he was attending state legislative sessions in Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota as a reporter and advocate. In this book, he discusses some of the legislative struggles that pitted farmers against big business and offers reasons why farmers should be allowed to form organizations to advocate their cause. Witham also criticizes the practice of railroad companies providing free riding privileges to journalists and elected public officials, contending that this practice biased these professions in favor of the railroads. He became well-known for his advice columns in the St. Paul Daily News, signed as "The Cornfield Philosopher." The bulk of Witham's experiences discussed here reflect his long residency in Iowa. There is, however, a wealth of information about Minnesota politics of the 1910s and early 1920s.


  • Witham, James W., 1856?-

Created / Published

  • [Chicago] Published by he Author [c1924]


  • -  Agriculture--United States--Societies, etc
  • -  Agriculture--United States


  • -  Also available in digital form on the Library of Congress Web site.


  • 2 p. l., 214 p. 20 cm.

Call Number/Physical Location

  • HD1484 .W75

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 24007863

Online Format

  • image
  • pdf

Additional Metadata Formats

Rights & Access

The Library of Congress is not aware of any U.S. copyright protection (see Title 17, U.S.C.) or any other restrictions in the materials in the Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910 materials. The Library of Congress is providing access to these materials for educational and research purposes. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or other rights holders (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item.

Credit Line: Library of Congress, General Collections and Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Witham, James W., 1856?. Fifty Years on the Firing Line. [Chicago Published by he Author, 1924] Pdf.

APA citation style:

Witham, J. W. (1924) Fifty Years on the Firing Line. [Chicago Published by he Author] [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Witham, James W., 1856?. Fifty Years on the Firing Line. [Chicago Published by he Author, 1924] Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.