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Paperback , pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Tom Watson , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Aug 06, Maureen rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: In his life and in his death, Tom Watson embodied both the best and worst of the South. When he was at this finest, Watson was a populist crusader who electrified crowds with his rousing stump speeches espousing farm reform and working together between the races. He is known as the "Father of Rural Free Delivery," and lobbied for many reforms.
Toward the end of his life, Watson turned into a bitter anti-Catholic and racist, downtrodden by his earlier efforts. On the steps of the Georgia capital, In his life and in his death, Tom Watson embodied both the best and worst of the South. On the steps of the Georgia capital, there is a statue of Tom Watson with his arm raised, hair askew, obviously in the middle of delivering a fiery oration.
He served in both the U. House and Senate, and was the Populist candidate in , one of the most interesting chapters in his wonderful, horrible life. Apr 09, Michael Elkon rated it really liked it. This is proper history.
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I wasn't sure if I would like this book because it was written in about a figure who is distant in Georgia history, but the book was thoroughly interesting from start to finish. Watson is a fascinating figure.
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He came from a somewhat privileged background in the post-war South, but his father lost much of the family's property with bad business decisions. Watson was a smart kid who loved to read and write, so he went to Mercer University in Macon, worked as a traveli This is proper history. Watson was a smart kid who loved to read and write, so he went to Mercer University in Macon, worked as a traveling preacher for a period of time, and then became a lawyer.
He gained notoriety handling cases in the area around August and then moved into politics, getting elected to Congress in at the age of 34 and casting himself as the successor to Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederacy. Watson was from Thomson, which is close to Stephens' home of Crawfordville. Watson's base of support was the class of farmers in the rural areas of the Tenth Congressional District. He ran against the Democratic establishment, which was based in Atlanta and coalesced around Henry Grady.
The establishment supported investment from the North, industrialization, railroads, and economic growth. Watson ran against all of these institutions. He supported the local farmers, so he railed against railroad monopolies that charged high prices to get the farmers' goods to market, as well as politicians who supported the railroads, general stores that gained leverage over the farmers through the extension of credit, banks, tight money, and the general lack of services for rural people especially mail service.
Watson was ostensibly a Democrat, but caucused with the Populists in Congress and proved to be a thorn in the side of the dominant party in Georgia from the start. As a result, the Democrats ran a candidate against Watson in and knocked him out of Congress, relying heavily on votes from Augusta. Watson then moved away from elected office and became a historian and journalist.
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For a period, he was affiliated with various muckraking publications based out of New York. He wrote a lengthy history of France and was a fan of Napoleon, despite the fact that Watson was a strident opponent of American projection of military power and therefore should not have been a fan of Napoleon's constant warfare.
I have to admit that I was confused by the mechanics here, but the general point of a third party struggling to decide on a course of action resonated. The Populists were split between Middle Roaders, who were adamant that they could not join either the Republicans or the Democrats, and Fusionists, who were willing to join the Democrats if they made significant policy concessions. The movement ended up being split when the Democrats nominated Bryan, a populist figure, in The whole thing came apart, much to Watson's dismay.
It is impossible to talk about Watson without covering the subject of race. At the outset of his career, he was progressive on the subject. He believed that the Democratic establishment exploited Black votes often fraudulently to get their preferred candidates elected. He believed that a coalition of White and Black farmers was the only way to defeat the establishment candidates and campaigned on that basis.
In one memorable instance, he deployed his armed supporters to protect a Black preacher who was campaigning on Watson's behalf, preventing the preacher from being lynched. The establishment attacked Watson for acting counter to the South's racial traditions, constantly raising the specter that Watson would empower Blacks. Watson ultimately capitulated to this line of reasoning, arguing in favor of Black disenfranchisement.
He was tired of being attacked on the basis that he was encouraging a Black political revolt, so he figured that with Blacks unable to vote, that line of assault would no longer work. He then became racist in his rhetoric and added strident anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism to the mix.
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He was a key figure in the lynching of Leo Frank, devoting consistent attention in his magazine to the case and the fact that the commutation of Frank's death sentence was a miscarriage of justice. As if to illustrate the fact that pandering to prejudice is a consistently successful tactic in American politics, Watson returned from the political wilderness and was elected to the Senate in after his turn to bigotry. He spoke to the presenters about how he shed a whopping seven stone. The presenters also tried the MP's diet drink, bullet proof coffee. However, presenters could not help but comment on his amazing transormation with Piers joking: Tom Watson, 51, has showed off an incredible weight loss as of late — losing more than six stone.
Drinking Bulletproof coffee, which contains grass fed butter, was key to his weight loss regime, Tom revealed in his New Statesman column. Tom Watson has achieved over six stone in weight loss by following a keto style diet. Tom also went into detail in the column about his exercise regime, which includes weights and circuit training. In he helped Hoke Smith win the race for governor, and thereafter no serious candidate for governor could be considered without his endorsement.
Soon after the turn of the century, Watson turned to writing at his newly acquired Hickory Hill estate on the outskirts of Thomson. He wrote a two-volume history of France , followed by a novel, Bethany: Through his Jeffersonian Publishing Company , Watson also produced a magazine and a weekly newspaper that achieved widespread circulation throughout the South and in New York. Watson's Jeffersonian Magazine in particular became an outlet for lengthy editorials on anti-capitalistic political philosophies and for strong diatribes reflecting his increasing racial and religious bigotry.
Although Watson had long supported black enfranchisement in Georgia and throughout the South, he changed his stance by Resentful of Democratic manipulation and exploitation of black voters and strongly opposed to the increased visibility and influence of such leaders as W. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, Watson endorsed the disenfranchisement of African American voters, and no longer defined Populism in racially inclusive terms.
Watson supported Hoke Smith in the Georgia's governor's race only on the condition that Smith support black disenfranchisement, and the inflammatory rhetoric that surrounded the issue was partially responsible for sparking the Atlanta Race Riot of Governor Smith later delivered on his promise to Watson by leading the successful adoption of a constitutional amendment that effectively disenfranchised black Georgia voters.
During his presidential bid Watson ran as a white supremacist and launched vehement diatribes in his magazine and newspaper against blacks. Watson also launched an aggressive campaign against the Catholic Church.
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He took issue with the hierarchy of the church and railed against abuses by its leaders. He mistrusted the church's foreign missions and its historic political activities. The Catholic Church responded by putting pressure on businesses that advertised in Watson's publications, resulting in an effective boycott.
In , during the trial of Leo Frank , Watson's strong attacks on Frank and on the pervasive influence of Jewish and northern interests in the state heavily influenced negative sentiment against Frank, who was lynched by a mob in In Thomas Watson Capitol Statue. For decades an imposing statue of Watson, dedicated in , stood on the grounds of the Georgia state capital. Controversy surrounding the statue led to its relocation in to a park across the street.
Thomas Watson Capitol Statue. Brewton, The Life of Thomas E. Brown and Thomas E.
Georgia Politics, Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, Bryan, Henry Grady or Tom Watson? Kenneth Coleman, 2d ed. University of Georgia Press, Shaw, The Wool-Hat Boys: Georgia's Populist Party Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, Vann Woodward, Tom Watson: