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John W. Gaines first appears as an attorney when he is listed as "T.W. Gaines" in the 1901 Arkansas Gazette as a speaker for the Wonder State Bar Association, a Black attorneys group. John Gaines appears under "attorneys" in the Little Rock (Pulaski County, Arkansas) City Directory of 1903. He was admitted by the state supreme court on December 31, 1906 and was probably previously admitted only to the Pulaski County Circuit Court. Gaines was listed as a partner of Scipio Africanus Jones between 1906 and 1908. Between 1908 and 1911, he advertised as a sole practitioner. In 1912, he rejoined Scipio Jones and Thomas J. Price to create Jones, Price & Gaines. In 1917, he returned to solo practice.

In 1907, he published a 138-page book titled "The New Idea: Designed as an Introduction to True Life." There is no indication of the books subject, although it is listed in the Cumulative Book Index in the category of "Conduct of Life."

Gaines also was active in the "Negro Socialist Party" in Arkansas. In July 1913, he is noted as "secretary of the local," which was formed in May 1913. In August 1913, he is quoted as stating "there are between 4,000 and 5,000 negro Socialists in the State," after being "appointed to take charge of organizing the negro Socialists of the State of Arkansas." He participated in a series of discussion on general economics conditions during 1913 and delivered several of them: "Socialism: The New Birth of Human Freedom," "There Will be No Security for Any One, Until There is Security for Every One," "Socialism Means the Birth of Human Freedom," and "Socialism Means the Birth of Human Freedom."

In 1916, the Arkansas Democrat noted "a mass meeting of negro wage-earners," at which Gaines was to speak on "The relation of low wages and the high cost of living to good civics." Also in 1916, Gaines and another man, Franklin W. Clark, were to "represent the Socialists during a three-way debate with Republicans and Progressives." The 1913 efforts may have become moribund by 1916, as the Democrat noted on June 17 that Gaines would be in charge of a meeting to "organize a branch of the Socialist Party." As of November 1916, Gaines was president of the National and Social Advancement and Welfare League.

After 1917, he disappeared from the records. Nothing more is known about him.

Sources: Judith Kilpatrick, "(EXTRA)Ordinary Men: African-American Lawyers and Civil Rights in Arkansas Before 1950," 53 Ark. Law Rev. 299, 368 n520, 372-73, 386 n669 (2000); The Colored Lawyers, Arkansas Gazette, 7/31/1901; 1903, 1903-04, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1914, 1917, Little Rock City Directories; Arkansas State Supreme Court Admissions Records; Arkansas Democrat, 6/2/1907, p. 1; The information on Gaines' involvement in the Arkansas Negro Socialist Party was provided by James S. Curlin, Paris, France; The Cumulative Book Index, Jan 1908, No. 12, H.W. Wilson Company, Minneapolis MN, 146, 251; Arkansas Democrat, 7/12/1913, p. 5; 8/23/1913, p. 6; Daily Arkansas Gazette, 9/27/1913, p. 7, 10/26/1913, p. 11; Arkansas Democrat, 5/20/1916, p. 8; Daily Arkansas Gazette, 5/31/1916, p. 5; Arkansas Democrat, 7/17/1916, p. 6; Arkansas Democrat, 11/4/1916, p. 7;

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