Editor, chair of the Populist Party, and the youngest of five sons of abolitionists James and Mary Sheldon Vincent, Leo Vincent was born in Tabor, Iowa, on December 20, 1863. Leo, his brother Henry, and their father founded the American Nonconformist newspaper in 1879. They termed it "a weekly antislavery journal devoted to the cause of emancipation from slavery to bondholders and railroad corporations." The paper successively supported the fortunes of the Greenback-Labor, Union Labor, and Populist parties. Leo and Henry Vincent moved the paper to Winfield, Kansas, in 1886, where they later helped found the People's (Populist) Party.
The Vincents relocated to Indianapolis in 1891, hoping to turn the Nonconfomist into a national Populist organ. They lost control of the paper during the Panic of 1893. In 1894 Leo Vincent moved to Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory, to edit the Oklahoma Representative and to chair the People's Party in Oklahoma. Under his leadership the Populist Party became the major threat to Republican Party domination of territorial politics. Vincent played a major role in the territory-wide Democratic-Populist fusion victory of 1896, which elected thirty-six of the thirty-nine members of the 1897 territorial legislature.
Vincent subsequently became disenchanted with fusion and moved to Boulder, Colorado, where he edited the Colorado Representative and became chair of the Colorado Populist Party. He died of natural causes in San Leandro, California, on March 28, 1955.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Worth Robert Miller, Oklahoma Populism: A History of the People's Party in the Oklahoma Territory (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987). Leo Vincent, "The Invincible Vincents" (typescript, 1978, Merilly Cummings Ford, comp.), Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Worth Robert Miller
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