Joseph Moore Dixon
7th Governor of Montana
In office
January 3, 1921 – January 4, 1925
LieutenantNelson Story Jr.
Preceded bySam V. Stewart
Succeeded byJohn E. Erickson
United States Senator
from Montana
In office
March 4, 1907 – March 3, 1913
Preceded byWilliam A. Clark
Succeeded byThomas J. Walsh
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's At-large district
In office
March 4, 1903 – March 3, 1907
Preceded byCaldwell Edwards
Succeeded byCharles N. Pray
Member of the Montana House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1867-07-31)July 31, 1867
Snow Camp, North Carolina
DiedMay 22, 1934(1934-05-22) (aged 66)
Missoula, Montana
Resting placeMissoula Cemetery
Political partyRepublican

Joseph Moore Dixon (July 31, 1867 – May 22, 1934) was an American 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, 1921–1925, 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.

Early life

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.[1] 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. In 1900, he served in the Montana House of Representatives.[2] He married Caroline M. Worden, daughter of prominent Missoula businessman Francis Lyman Worden, in 1896. They had seven children: Virginia, Florence, Dorothy, Betty, Mary Joe, Peggy, and Frank. Frank died shortly after birth.[3] 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 advantage 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.[4] He became an ardent admirer of President Theodore Roosevelt, and joined the progressive wing of the party, fighting the conservatives. He unsuccessfully ran for reelection in 1912, but that year, he was the campaign manager for Roosevelt and chaired 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, Dixon ran for Governor of Montana, and, following farmer unrest that weakened the copper company, Dixon was carried by the national Republican landslide into office as governor, defeating Democratic nominee Burton K. Wheeler comfortably.[5] 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 by John E. Erickson and for the Senate in 1928, losing to his one-time foe, Wheeler, in the general election.[6]

In 1929 he was appointed First Assistant Secretary of the Interior, and served in that position until 1933.[7] 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 interred at the Missoula Cemetery in Missoula, Montana.[8]


  1. ^ "Guide to the Joseph M. Dixon Papers". The University of Montana. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  2. ^ "Dixon, Joseph Moore (1867-1934". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  3. ^ "Guide to the Joseph M. Dixon Papers 1772-1944". The University of Montana-Missoula. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  4. ^ "Sen. Joseph Dixon". Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  5. ^ "Joseph M. Dixon". Montana Historical Society. Archived from the original on 20 August 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  6. ^ Tribune Staff. "125 Montana Newsmakers: Joseph M. Dixon". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  7. ^ "Montana Governor Joseph Moore Dixon". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  8. ^ Lawrence Kestenbaum (July 22, 2013). "Dixon, Joseph Moore (1867-1934)". Political Graveyard. Retrieved October 10, 2013.

Further reading

Party political offices Preceded byFrank J. Edwards Republican nominee for Governor of Montana 1920, 1924 Succeeded byWellington D. Rankin Preceded byCarl W. Riddick Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Montana(Class 1) 1928 Succeeded byGeorge M. Bourquin U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byCaldwell Edwards Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom Montana's At-large congressional district 1903–1907 Succeeded byCharles N. Pray U.S. Senate Preceded byWilliam A. Clark U.S. senator from Montana 1907–1913 Succeeded byThomas J. Walsh Political offices Preceded bySam V. Stewart Governor of Montana 1921-1925 Succeeded byJohn Edward Erickson