Richard P. Bland (August 19, 1835 - June 15, 1899), American school teacher, lawyer, and Democratic Congressman from 1873 until 1899.
Born near Hartford, Ohio, he graduated with a teacherâ€™s certificate from the Hartford Academy, and taught school there for two years. He moved to Wayne County, Missouri at age 20, in 1855, and then to California soon after. Then he moved to the western portion of the Utah Territory, part of present day Western Nevada, where he taught school, and tried his hand at prospecting and mining. While teaching school he studied law, and after passing the bar, began practicing in both Virginia City and Carson City. Bland had a keen interest in the mining industry, which was the main stay of the Western Nevada economy. His first elected office was that of treasurer of the then Carson County, 1860-1864.
In 1865 he returned to Missouri, and set up a law practice, with his brother C.C. Bland, in the town of Rolla, in central Missouri. Four years later, 1869, he moved to nearby Lebanon. Because a predecessor of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad had recently laid track through Lebanon, it was seen as more commercially viable for Richard.
Running as a Democrat, he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1872, to the 43rd Congress. He was elected to the House in an incredible run of thirteen out of fourteen elections. In his second term he was the chairman for the Committee on Mines and Mining. Five times he was elected to the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures.
In 1878, along with William Allison (R-IA), he passed the Bland-Allison Act (this was later replaced by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890). This bill was a compromise for silver miners and the "common man" who where caught holding silver coinage after the passage of the Fourth Coinage Act (or Coinage Act of 1873-also called the "Crime of '73!").
He was known as both "The Great Commoner" and "Silver Dick", nicknames that reflected his efforts to help both the common man and the silver miners. His 25 year lobby for a bimetallic standard would make him a friend and representative for western miners. He was also against any expansionist posture by the United States, voting against annexing Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.
Bland lost the hard-fought 1896 Democratic presidential nomination to the "great orator", William Jennings Bryan, then throw his support behind Bryan, who lost the Presidential election to William McKinley.
He married Virginia Mitchell of Rolla in 1873. Together, they had six children, Theodric, Ewing, Frances, John, George, and Virginia. He died in 1899 while still serving his country, and is buried at the Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Lebanon, MO.