Our Georgia History

Thomas Edward 'Tom' Watson
September 5, 1856 Thomas Edward Watson born, McDuffie County, Georgia
  Thomas Edward 'Tom' Watson
July 26, 1896 Having nominated William Jennings Bryan for President and Thomas Edward "Tom" Watson for Vice President, the Peoples Party (Populists) convention draws to a close.
  Thomas Edward 'Tom' Watson
September 26, 1922 U. S. Senator Thomas Watson dies of a cerebral hemorrhage in Chevy Chase, Maryland
  Thomas Edward 'Tom' Watson
October 30, 1922 Democratic Governor of Georgia Thomas Hardwick appoints the first woman to the U. S. Senate, Rebecca Latimer Felton. She replaced Tom Watson.
  Thomas Edward 'Tom' Watson
  Rebecca Latimer Felton

Populist candidate for Vice President of the United States (William Jennings Bryan was the Populist nominee for President), young Tom Watson had earned a name for himself as a pro-agriculture politician who had wide-spread African-American support because he denounced lynching. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1882.

Life had not been easy for Georgia farmers and planters since the Civil War. Drought, falling corn prices, economic downturns and decreasing work force all caused problems for the agrarian ecomony in the state. Watson represented a pro-farmer voice, popular before the war, but less common after. He would picture himself as a disaffected Democrat, which also made him popular in the one-party state.

Twice nominated as candidate for President by the Populist Party (1904 and 1908), by that time support of the party had waned, mostly because the Democrats had attracted many of the supporters by incorporating the better Populist planks into their own platform. His writing reflected growing racism and bitterness over his loses at the hands of "race-baiting Democrats." Catholics were also targets for his vitriol.

During the Leo Frank Trial, Watson wrote prolifically against Frank and the power of the Jews. He was strongly against the U. S. entry into World War I. In 1920 he was elected to Congress, defeating Hoke Smith in the Democratic primary.

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