Miles Poindexter

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Miles Poindexter
United States Senator
from Washington
In office
March 4, 1911 – March 3, 1923
Preceded bySamuel H. Piles
Succeeded byClarence Dill
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 3rd district
In office
March 4, 1909 – March 3, 1911
Preceded byDistrict created
Succeeded byWilliam Leroy La Follette
United States Ambassador to Peru
In office
April 20, 1923 – March 21, 1928
PresidentWarren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Preceded byWilliam E. Gonzales
Succeeded byAlexander P. Moore
Personal details
Born(1868-04-22)April 22, 1868
Memphis, Tennessee
DiedSeptember 21, 1946(1946-09-21) (aged 78)
Rockbridge County, Virginia
Resting placeFairmount Memorial Park, Spokane, Washington
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Gale Page (1866-1929) (m. 1892)
Elinor Jackson Junkin Latane (m. 1936)
EducationWashington and Lee University

Miles Poindexter (April 22, 1868 – September 21, 1946) was an American politician and author. As a Republican and later a Progressive, he served as a United States Representative and United States Senator from the state of Washington. Poindexter also served as United States Ambassador to Peru during the presidential administrations of Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Poindexter was raised in Virginia, received a law degree from Washington and Lee University in 1891 and moved to Walla Walla, Washington, where he practiced law and entered politics as a Republican. He served as prosecuting attorney in Walla Walla, and then moved to Spokane, where he was assistant prosecuting attorney and a superior court judge.

In 1908, Poindexter was elected to the U.S. House. He served one term (1909-1911), and was reelected in 1910. He resigned before his new term began in March 1911 because the state legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate. He was reelected in 1916, and served from 1911 to 1923. Poindexter became a Progressive Party member in 1913, but returned to the Republicans in 1915. Poindexter was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 1920, and for reelection to the Senate in 1922. In 1923, Poindexter was appointed Ambassador to Peru. He served until 1928, when he returned to Washington and waged an unsuccessful campaign for the Senate.

After losing the 1928 election, Poindexter moved to Natural Bridge Station, Virginia. He died there in 1946, and was buried at Fairmount Memorial Park in Spokane.

Early life[edit]

Poindexter was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of Josephine (Anderson) Poindexter and William B. Poindexter.[1] His parents were residents of Malvern Hill in Henrico County, Virginia, and his father was an American Civil War veteran of the Confederate States Army.[1] Poindexter was raised in Virginia, and attended the Fancy Hill Academy in Rockbridge County, Virginia.[1] He then attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, from which he graduated with an LL.B. degree in 1891.[1]

Legal career[edit]

After he graduated, he settled in Walla Walla, Washington, where he was admitted to the bar and began the practice of law.[1] In 1892 he became the prosecuting attorney of Walla Walla County.[1] He moved to Spokane, Washington in 1897 where he continued the practice of law.[1] He served as the assistant prosecuting attorney for Spokane County from 1898 to 1904, and as a judge of the superior court from 1904 to 1908.[2]

Political career[edit]

He was elected as a Republican to the Sixty-first Congress, and served from March 4, 1909 to March 3, 1911 representing Washington's newly created 3rd congressional district.[3] He was reelected in 1910, but resigned in 1911 because the Washington State Legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate.[3] He was reelected in 1916, and served from March 4, 1911 to March 3, 1923.[4] Poindexter left the Republican Party in 1913 to join the Progressive Party, rejoining the Republicans in 1915.[5]

During World War I, Poindexter moved away from supporting progressive causes and led several efforts that questioned the patriotism of German-Americans and attempted to keep them from wartime leadership positions in the military. In a highly-publicized instance, Poindexter accused German-born Colonel Carl Reichmann (1859-1937), a distinguished Army officer who had served since 1881, of being pro-German and used the legislative process to block Reichmann's promotion to brigadier general. Reichmann had become a US citizen in 1887 and the promotion was supported by American Expeditionary Forces commander John J. Pershing, Hugh L. Scott, the Army Chief of Staff, and Newton D. Baker, the Secretary of War, but they were unable to overcome Poindexter's opposition and Reichmann remained a colonel.[6] Poindexter also played a role in instigating the First Red Scare by accusing the Wilson administration of being infested with Bolshevism and accusing United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Louis Brandeis of being a communist.[7] Poindexter was a target of reformers and progressives in 1922, and lost his bid for reelection to the Democratic nominee, Representative Clarence Dill.[4]

Committee chairmanships[edit]

During his Senate tenure, Poindexter served as chairman of the following committees:[4]

Later life[edit]

Poindexter ran in the 1920 Republican Party presidential primaries, but was not a serious contender for the party's nomination. [8] He received the votes of 20 delegates on the first ballot at the 1920 Republican National Convention, and the nomination went to Warren G. Harding on the 10th ballot. [8] After he lost his 1922 campaign for reelection to the Senate, in 1923 Harding appointed Poindexter as United States Ambassador to Peru.[4] He served until 1928, when he resigned and returned to Washington.[4] He was an unsuccessful candidate that year for the United States Senate.[4]

Retirement and death[edit]

After the death of his wife, Poindexter returned to his home, "Elk Cliff" in Greenlee, near Natural Bridge Station, Virginia.[4] He died there on September 21, 1946, and was buried at Fairmount Memorial Park in Spokane.[9]


In 1892, Poindexter married Elizabeth Gale Page (1866-1929) of Walla Walla.[3] They were the parents of a son, Gale Aylett Poindexter (1893-1976).[3]

Poindexter remarried in 1936, becoming the husband of Elinor Jackson Junkin Latane, the widow of John Holladay Latane, a professor at Johns Hopkins University.[10]

Elizabeth Gale Page was the granddaughter of Joseph Gale, the first governor of Oregon.[11] She and Miles Poindexter were the aunt and uncle of actress Gale Page.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g History of the City of Spokane and Spokane County, Washington, p. 706.
  2. ^ History of the City of Spokane and Spokane County, Washington, pp. 706-707.
  3. ^ a b c d History of the City of Spokane and Spokane County, Washington, p. 707.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005, p. 1747.
  5. ^ "Biographical Note, Miles Poindexter", p. 1.
  6. ^ Joshua E. Kastenberg, War Time Hysteria, 1917: Senator Miles Poindexter, ‘American-ness’ and the Strange Case of Colonel Carl Reichmann, War and Society, Vol 37 (2018), 147-164
  7. ^ Id
  8. ^ a b The Chicago Daily News Almanac and Year Book for 1921, p. 218-223.
  9. ^ "Burial Record, Miles Poindexter".
  10. ^ "Miles Poindexter, Ex-Senator, Weds", p. 1.
  11. ^ a b "Singer Without a Song", p. 3D.



  • Durham, Nelson Wayne (1912). History of the City of Spokane and Spokane County, Washington. II. Spokane, WA: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company.
  • Langland, James (1921). The Chicago Daily News Almanac and Year Book for 1921. Chicago, IL: Chicago Daily News Company.
  • U.S. Congress (2005). Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. ISBN 978-0-16-073176-1.



  • Washington Secretary of State (August 1, 2016). "Burial Record, Miles Poindexter". Cemetery Records: Fairmount Memorial Park. Olympia, WA: Washington State Archives. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  • Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries (2006). "Biographical Note, Miles Poindexter". Miles Poindexter Photograph Collection, 1880s-1940s. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. Retrieved February 8, 2018.

External sources[edit]


Party political offices
First Republican nominee for United States Senator from Washington (Class 1)
1916, 1922
Succeeded by
Kenneth Mackintosh
U.S. House of Representatives
New district Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
William Leroy La Follette
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Samuel H. Piles
U.S. senator (Class 1) from Washington
Served alongside: Wesley L. Jones
Succeeded by
Clarence C. Dill
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
William E. Gonzales
United States Ambassador to Peru
20 April 1923 – 21 March 1928
Succeeded by
Alexander P. Moore