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Richard P.
Bland


Richard Parks Bland (August 19, 1835 – June 15, 1899), Americanmarker school teacher, lawyer, and Democratic Congressman from 1873 until 1899.

Born near Hartford, Ohiomarker, he graduated with a teacher’s certificate from the Hartford Academy, and taught school there for two years. He moved to Wayne County, Missourimarker at age 20, in 1855, and then to Californiamarker soon after. Then he moved to the western portion of the Utah Territory, part of present day western Nevadamarker, where he taught school, and tried his hand at prospecting and mining. While teaching school he studied law, and after passing the bar, began practicing in Virginia Citymarker and Carson Citymarker. Bland had a keen interest in the mining industry, which was the main stay of the western Nevada economy. His first elected office was treasurer of Carson County, 1860-1864.

In 1865 he returned to Missouri, and set up a law practice, with his brother C.C. Bland, in the town of Rollamarker, in central Missouri. Four years later, 1869, he moved to nearby Lebanonmarker. Because a predecessor of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad had recently laid track through Lebanon, it was seen as more commercially viable.

In 1872, he was elected as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives in the 43rd Congress. He was re-elected to the House ten times, narrowly defeated in 1894, regained his seat in 1896, was re-elected in 1898, and died in 1899. He was chairman of the Committee on Mines and Mining in the 44th Congress. He was chairman of the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures in the 48th Congress, 49th Congress, 50th Congress, 52nd Congress, and 53rd Congress.

In 1878, along with William Allison (R-IA), he sponsored the Bland-Allison Act (which was later replaced by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890). This bill was a compromise for silver miners and the "common man" who were left holding silver coinage after the passage of the Fourth Coinage Act (or Coinage Act of 1873 — also called the "Crime of '73").

He was known as both "The Great Commoner" and "Silver Dick", nicknames that reflected his efforts to help both the common man and the silver miners. His 25 year campaign for a bimetallic standard made him a friend and advocate for western miners. He was also against any expansionist actions by the United States, voting against annexing Hawaiimarker, Puerto Rico, and the Philippinesmarker.

Bland lost the hard-fought 1896 Democratic presidential nomination to the "great orator", William Jennings Bryan, then threw his support behind Bryan, who lost the Presidential election to William McKinley.

He married Virginia Mitchell of Rolla in 1873. Together, they had six children: Theodric, Ewing, Frances, John, George, and Virginia. Bland remained in Congress until his death in 1899; he is buried at the Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Lebanon, Missourimarker.

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The town of Bland, Mo. is named after him.

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