William Boyd Allison (March 2, 1829 – August 4, 1908) was an American politician. He was an early leader of Iowa’s Republican Party. He represented northeastern Iowa in Congress before moving on to the United States Senate. By the 1890s, Allison had become one of the “big four” key Republicans who largely controlled the Senate, along with Orville H. Platt of Connecticut, John Coit Spooner of Wisconsin and Nelson W. Aldrich of Rhode Island.
Born in Perry, Ohio, Allison established a legal practice in Dubuque, Iowa and became a prominent member of the nascent Iowa Republican Party. He was a delegate to the 1860 Republican National Convention and won election to the House of Representatives in 1862. He served four terms in the House and won election to the Senate in 1872. He was elected chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He served for every year except two between 1881-1908. Four Republican presidents approached Allison to be a member of their Cabinet. Allison declined each request. At the 1888 Republican National Conventions, a significant number of delegate supported his presidential nomination.
Allison was a pragmatic and centrist leader in the Senate and helped to pass many important bills. Bland-Allison Act 1878 restored bimetallism but in a less inflationary way than Congressman Richard P. Bland had hoped. A prominent advocate of higher tariffs, Allison played a major role in the passage of the McKinley Tariff and the Dingley Act. He also helped pass the Hepburn Act by offering the Allison amendment, which granted courts the power to review the Interstate Commerce Commission’s railroad rate-setting. Allison was seeking a record seventh term, but he died soon after defeating progressive leader Albert B. Cummins in the Republican primary.
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