Joseph M. Dixon, Governor, U.S. Senator

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Joseph Moore Dixon

Birthplace: Snow Camp, Alamance County, North Carolina, United States
Death: Died in Missoula, Missoula County, Montana, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Hugh Woody Dixon and Flora Adaline Dixon
Husband of Caroline Melissa Dixon
Father of Dorothy Allen

Managed by: Private User
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About Joseph M. Dixon, Governor, U.S. Senator

Joseph Moore Dixon (July 31, 1867 – May 22, 1934) was a Republican politician from Montana. He served as a Representative, Senator, and the seventh Governor of Montana. A businessman and a modernizer of Quaker heritage, Dixon was a leader of the Progressive Movement in Montana and nationally. His term as governor, 1921–1924, was unsuccessful, as severe economic hardship limited the opportunities for action by the state government, and his great enemy the Anaconda Copper company mobilized its resources to defeat reform.

Dixon was born in Snow Camp, North Carolina to a Quaker family; his father operated a farm and a small factory. Dixon attended Quaker colleges, Earlham College in Indiana and Guilford College in North Carolina, graduating in 1889. He excelled at history, debate and oratory. Dixon moved to the frontier town of Missoula, Montana in 1891, where he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1892. Although he left the Quaker faith, he never abandoned Quaker ideals.

Early career

Dixon served as assistant prosecuting attorney of Missoula County from 1893 to 1895 and prosecuting attorney from 1895 to 1897. He married Caroline M. Worden, daughter of prominent Missoula businessman Frank Worden, in 1896. They had seven children: Virginia, Florence, Dorothy, Betty, Mary Joe, Peggy, and Frank. Frank died shortly after birth. Dixon grew wealthy through his law practice and his investments in real estate; to further his political ambitions in 1900 he bought a Missoula newspaper, the Missoulian.

Political career

Dixon took advantages of the internal dissension among rival factions of the Democratic party to rise rapidly in politics. In 1902 and 1904 he won congressional races, and in 1907 the Montana legislature chose him for a U.S. Senate seat. He became an ardent admirer of President Theodore Roosevelt, and joined the progressive wing of the party and fighting the conservatives. He unsuccessfully ran for reelection in 1912, but that year, he was the campaign manager for Roosevelt and shared the National Progressive Convention that nominated Roosevelt on the third-party Progressive Party ("Bull Moose") ticket as the GOP split between progressives and stand patters. Out of office, Dixon returned to Montana to look after his newspaper properties, and to battle the Amalgamated Copper Company, the behemoth that dominated both political parties through its corrupt spending. He finally sold his newspapers, and they were taken over by Amalgamated. In 1920 farmer unrest weakened the copper company (now named "Anaconda Copper"), and Dixon was carried by the national Republican landslide into office as governor. Although Dixon had many reform proposals, he was unable to enact them because of the severe economic depression in the state, and the systematic opposition of Anaconda Copper. He was defeated for reelection in 1924 and for the Senate in 1928.

In 1929 he was appointed First Assistant Secretary of the Interior. In 1930, he was involved with a project to develop water power on the Flathead Indian Reservation, and with it, a complex network of water rights for the Reservation.

He died in Missoula, Montana on May 22, 1934 due to heart problems. He is buried at the Missoula Cemetery in Missoula, Montana.

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Joseph M. Dixon, Governor, U.S. Senator's Timeline

July 31, 1867
Snow Camp, Alamance County, North Carolina, United States
May 22, 1934
Age 66
Missoula, Missoula County, Montana, United States