Watson, Thomas Edward (1856-1922) | Valdosta State University Archives
Name: Watson, Thomas Edward (1856-1922)
Historical Note: Thomas Edward Watson (September 5, 1856 September 26, 1922), he was known as Tom Watson, a United States politician from Georgia. In early years, Watson Championed poor farmers and the working class; later he became a controversial publisher and Populist politician. Two years before his death, he was elected to the United States Senate. His virulent attacks on the Roman Catholic Church, African Americans, Jews, the League of Nations, President Woodrow Wilson and the war effort in World War I diminished his political influence. Watson was born in Thomson, the county seat of McDuffie County, Georgia. After attending Mercer University (he did not graduate, family finances forced withdrawal after two years), he became a schoolteacher. Watson later studied law and was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1875. He joined the Democratic Party and in 1882 was elected to the Georgia Legislature. Watson was a presidential elector on the Democratic ticket in 1888. He was elected as a Populist to the 52nd Congress (1891-1893). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1892 and 1894. Watson resumed the practice of law in Thomson, Georgia. Watson was nominated for Vice President by the Populist National Convention in 1896 and for President by the Peoples Party in 1904. He published a magazine for many years and later engaged in the newspaper business (The Jeffersonian). Watson unsuccessfully ran for House of Representatives in 1918 and was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate and served from 1921 until his death in Washington, D.C., September 26 1922. Watson is buried in Thomson Cemetery in Thomson, Georgia.