William Alfred PEFFER, Congress, KS (1831-1912)

Senate Years of Service:

PEFFER, William Alfred, a Senator from Kansas; born in Cumberland County, Pa., September 10, 1831; attended the public schools and commenced teaching at the age of fifteen; followed the gold rush to San Francisco, Calif., in 1850; moved to Indiana in 1853, Missouri in 1859, and Illinois in 1862; during the Civil War enlisted in the Union Army as a private, was promoted to second lieutenant, and served as regimental quartermaster and adjutant, post adjutant, judge advocate of the military commission, and department quartermaster in the engineering department at Nashville; mustered out of the service 1865; studied law while in the Army; admitted to the bar in 1865 and commenced practice in Clarksville, Tenn.; moved to Fredonia, Kans., in 1870 and continued the practice of law; purchased and edited the Fredonia Journal; member, State senate 1874-1876; moved to Coffeyville, Kans. and edited the Coffeyville Journal in 1875 and also practiced law; presidential elector on the Republican ticket in 1880; editor of the Kansas Farmer at Topeka in 1881; elected as a Populist to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1891, to March 3, 1897; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1896; chairman, Committee to Examine Branches of the Civil Service (Fifty-third and Fifty-fourth Congresses); unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Kansas in 1898; engaged in literary pursuits; died in Grenola, Kans., October 6, 1912; interment in Topeka Cemetery, Topeka, Kans.


American National Biography; Dictionary of American Biography; Argersinger, Peter H. Populism and Politics: William A. Peffer and the People’s Party. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1974; Peffer, William A. “The United States Senate: Its Origin, Personnel and Organization.” North American Review 167 (July 1898): 48-63.

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1771-Present