Francis G. Newlands

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Francis G. Newlands
Francis Newlands.jpg
United States Senator
from Nevada
In office
March 4, 1903 – December 24, 1917
Preceded by John P. Jones
Succeeded by Charles B. Henderson
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Nevada's At-Large district
In office
March 4, 1893 – March 3, 1903
Preceded by Horace F. Bartine
Succeeded by Clarence D. Van Duzer
Personal details
Born Francis Griffith Newlands
(1846-08-28)August 28, 1846
Natchez, Mississippi
Died December 24, 1917(1917-12-24) (aged 71)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Clara Adelaide Sharon, died birthing 4th child in 1882. Second wife: Edith McCallister married 1888
Residence Reno
Profession Attorney, Politician

Francis Griffith Newlands (August 28, 1846 – December 24, 1917) was a United States Representative and Senator from Nevada.[1] Newlands is perhaps best known for the 1902 Newlands Reclamation Act, which funded irrigation projects that led to the settlement of much of the American West. He also founded the neighborhoods of Chevy Chase, Washington, D.C.; and Chevy Chase, Maryland.

An avowed white supremacist, he proposed that delegates to the 1912 Democratic National Convention adopt a "white plank" restricting immigration and disenfranchising African-Americans.[2]

Early life[edit]

Newlands was born in Natchez, Mississippi, on August 28, 1846.[3] His parents, Scottish immigrants, moved the family (four boys and one girl) to Quincy, Illinois, by the time Newlands was three. His father, a doctor, died shortly thereafter. His mother remarried Eben Moore, mayor of Quincy and together they moved the family to Chicago and Washington, D.C. He studied at Yale University, which he had to leave for financial reasons (after his step-father died and his brother was injured in the Civil War). He worked by day at a post office in Washington, D.C., and by night studied at the Columbian College Law School (now the George Washington University Law School). He was admitted to the bar in 1869.[4]


In 1870, Newlands moved to San Francisco, California, where he worked for William Sharon, the Bank of California executive who financed the early years of the Comstock Lode digs in Virginia City, Nevada. Newlands later married Sharon's daughter Clara Adelaide Sharon in 1876.[5] She and her fourth child, a boy, died in childbirth in 1882. They had three girls. In 1888, he moved to Nevada and continued to practice law, the same year that he married his second wife, Edith McCallister.[6]

Land developer[edit]

In the late 1880s, Newlands and his partners began to acquire farmland in northwestern Washington, D.C., and southern Montgomery County, Maryland, in order to develop a residential streetcar suburb for the nation's capital. (See Washington streetcars.) They founded the Chevy Chase Land Company in 1890; it eventually acquired much of the land now known as Chevy Chase, Washington, D.C., and Chevy Chase, Maryland. Newlands used the powers of his federal offices to aid the development of the Northwest D.C. corridor.[citation needed]

U.S. Representative[edit]

He served as a Democratic Representative for Nevada between 1893 and 1903. During his service, he wrote the Newlands Resolution, an act to annex the Republic of Hawai'i and create the Territory of Hawai'i. It was approved on July 4, 1898, and signed by President William McKinley. Newlands became known for his support of irrigation, land reclamation, and free silver. He temporarily sat in the House as a member of the Silver Party. He pushed for the passage of the 1902 Newlands Reclamation Act, which funded irrigation projects throughout much of the American West, making economic development possible in 21 arid western states at the cost of damming the West's major rivers.

U.S. Senator[edit]

He became a U.S. senator representing Nevada in 1903. He was a member of the Senate subcommittee that investigated the 1912 sinking of RMS Titanic.[7] In 1916, he was the only Democratic senator to vote against the nomination of Louis Brandeis to the U.S. Supreme Court.[8] He served until his death in Washington, D.C., on December 24, 1917.


Newlands was an "avowed racist".[9] He published and spoke about his white supremacist beliefs, labelling African-Americans as a "race of children."[10][11] Chevy Chase — the suburb that he co-founded — excluded people based on race and religion.[citation needed]

The Francis Griffith Newlands Memorial Fountain is named for him. Proposals have been made to remove his name from the fountain because of his white supremacist history. Others believe that Chevy Chase should continue to honor Newlands with a monument.[2][12]

In Bethesda, Maryland, an office building operated by the Chevy Chase Land Company is named after him: the Francis G. Newlands Center.

Newlands's former mansion in Reno is one of six properties in Nevada designated as a National Historic Landmark.[13] Many notable people, including Barbara Hutton in 1935, stayed at the house while waiting for their divorce paperwork to be finalized by George Thatcher, a local divorce lawyer who purchased the home in 1920.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NPS: Newlands
  2. ^ a b Lancaster, Angela, CCHS President. Mary Sheehan, Board Member. Gail Sansbury, Director, Archive and Research Center (December 4, 2014). "Letter, CCHS to Gary Thompson" (PDF). Chevy Chase Historical Society. Retrieved February 13, 2015. 
  3. ^ Frank G. Newlands' Birth
  4. ^ Atwood, Albert W. Francis G. Newlands: A Builder of the Nation. 1969
  5. ^
  6. ^ Daily Alta California, Volume 42, Number 14249, 9 September 1888
  7. ^ Titanic Inquiry Project
  8. ^ Confirm Brandeis by Vote of 47 to 22, The New York Times, June 2, 1916
  9. ^ Fisher, Marc. "Chevy Chase, 1916: For Everyman, a New Lot in Life," Washington Post, February 15, 1999
  10. ^ Gary, Frank Boyd (1909). "The Immigration Commission and the Immigration Problem". U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 23. Retrieved February 23, 2015.  This pamphlet, consisting mostly of a transcript of a speech by Gary, includes an extract of a statement given by Newlands on February 7, 1909, to the Washington Post that includes the "race of children" assertion.
  11. ^ Newlands, Francis G. (1909). "A Western View of the Race Question". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 34: 269. 
  12. ^ "Descendants of Nevada senator join debate over DC fountain". Washington, D.C. Associated Press. February 18, 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Senator Francis G. Newlands House". U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 3 August 2011. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Horace F. Bartine
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nevada's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by
Clarence D. Van Duzer
United States Senate
Preceded by
John P. Jones
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Nevada
Served alongside: William M. Stewart, George S. Nixon, William A. Massey, Key Pittman
Succeeded by
Charles B. Henderson
Political offices
Preceded by
Moses E. Clapp
Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce
Succeeded by
Ellison D. Smith
South Carolina