Populist farmer elected president of Texas Farmers' Alliance
On this day in 1887, Evan Jones, farmer and populist leader, was elected president of the Texas Farmers' Alliance. The Kentucky native was farming in Erath County, Texas, by 1876 and joined the Texas Farmers' Alliance by 1883. He was president of the Erath County Farmers' Alliance from 1884 to 1888. In 1886 he led an independent ticket to victory in the county elections. On January 18, 1887, the Texas Farmers' Alliance elected him president, and he served until the fall of 1888, when he was elected president of the rapidly expanding Farmers' and Laborers' Union of America, the product of the merger of the Agricultural Wheel and the Farmers' Alliance. In the fall of 1889 he declined to run for national president again and was reelected president of the Texas Farmers' Alliance; he served until the fall of 1891. He was again president of the Texas alliance from 1895 to 1896. Jones's advocacy of political action on the part of independent farmers and laborers made him an early leader of the more radical political wing of the Texas alliance. From 1889 to 1891, as president of the Texas alliance, he helped the radicals persuade numerous members of the alliance in Texas and the South to move toward third-party politics. He was nominated for governor in July 1888 by the Union Labor party, a precursor of the People's party, but declined because of his work as alliance president. He joined the Populist party when it was formed in Texas in 1891, and in 1892 he ran unsuccessfully for the United States Congress from the Eighth Congressional District. In 1896 he ran unsuccessfully for railroad commissioner on the same ticket. He became ill during a speaking trip to East Texas and died in 1899.