Thomas E. Watson

Thomas Edward "Tom" Watson ( born September 5, 1856 in Thomson, McDuffie County, Georgia, † September 26, 1922 in Washington, DC ) was an American politician of the Populist Party and the Democratic Party. From 1891 to 1893 he sat for the U.S. state of Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives. 1904 and 1908 he was a candidate of the Populist Party in the U.S. presidential election. From 1921 until his death he represented Georgia in the U.S. Senate.


Watson was born in Thomson in the west of Georgia. He attended Mercer University. Due to lack of funds he was unable to complete his studies and left after two years, the University. He then worked as a teacher. Later, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1875. During this time he became a member of the Democratic Party. In 1882 he was a deputy in the House of Representatives from Georgia. As a member of the legislature Watson struggled unsuccessfully aim is to curb the abuses of the powerful railway companies. A law which should oblige railway companies to pay taxes to the county, was not decided, after Senator Joseph E. Brown, the members of the legislature of Georgia by train travel to Louisville had invited Exposure 1883. Watson joined, disgusted by Brown and his bribes, before the end of his term of his mandate back and returned to his law firm. In 1888 he was a member of the Electoral College.

Henceforth, Watson supported the Farmers' Alliance. With their support, he was in 1890 elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1891 he took on his work. Watson left the Democratic faction and became instead a member of the Group of the Populist Party. Of the eight other members of the Group Watson has been proposed on the day of his transfer unsuccessfully for election as Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States. He was one of the driving forces behind the founding of the Populist Party in his home state. The Populist Party advocated the public ownership of the railroads, steamship lines and telephone and telegraph systems, so was against any privatization. In addition, they advocated for free and unlimited coinage of silver, abolition of national banks, a system of progressive income tax and the direct election of United States Senators. Watson also made ​​an important for the voting rights of African Americans.

Although Watson was a member of a minority group, but he took great influence on the legislation, in particular concerning the lands. The most important of these was a law that forced the post office to deliver letters also to remote farms. The Act passed in 1893, it eliminated the need for the farmers picked up their mail at post offices far away or had to hire a private company with it. Warson fighting for re-election, but was defeated by James CC Black where he retired in 1893 from the House of Representatives. He then worked as a lawyer in his native town. He also wrote articles for the party newspaper of the Populist Party.

In the run up to the presidential elections 1896, the head of the Populist Party entered into discussions with the Democratic candidate, William Jennings Bryan, on, since it was felt that it would have no chance with a candidate of their own. Watson was running mate of Bryan, provided they could agree on a collaboration. After the meeting of the Populist Party Bryan had officially nominated their candidates, in turn, Arthur Sewall appointed to his running mate. This step of Bryan, the Populist Party split into two camps: on the one hand, those who refused now to support Bryan, and on the other side those who campaigned for him reluctantly. Watson's name remained on the ballot as Bryan's vice presidential candidate of the Populist Party, while Sewall was listed as Bryan's vice presidential candidate of the Democrats. Watson finally got 217,000 votes, not even accounting for a quarter of what the predecessor had received as a vice presidential candidate four years earlier. Watson's result was also the highest score, which was a candidate of the Populist Party until the decline of the party.

As his personal wealth grew, Watson condemned socialism, who had drawn many converts from the ashes of populism. He was an opponent of the Roman Catholics and called for the reorganization of the Ku Klux Klan. In the presidential elections in 1904 and 1908, Watson was a candidate for the Populist Party, but could unite only marginal voices numbers upon, save in his home state of Georgia, where he received 18% ( 1904) and 12% (1908 ) of the votes.

After the decline of the Populist Party Watson worked both as an author and as an editor at various newspapers. March 4, 1921 until his death, he was politically active again, this time as a U.S. Senator for the Democratic Party to which he had returned. Watson died on September 26, 1922 of a stroke. Rebecca Ann Latimer Felton was appointed as his successor. They held office for 24 hours and was the first female member of the Senate.