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07.01.25 Thomas E. Watson, a biography by C. Vann Woodward titled, Tom Watson: Agrarian Rebel, published in 1938.

Notes Concerning the Author

C. Vann Woodward (1908-1999) was born and raised in Arkansas.  He received a Bachelors degree from Emory University in Atlanta and, in 1932, a Master’s degree at Columbia in New York.  Under the guidance of Howard K. Beale, Woodward received his PhD at the University of North Carolina in 1937.  His PhD dissertation was his biography of Thomas E. Watson.  It was this work that was published the following year and constitutes our recommendation.


Thomas Edward “Tom” Watson (1856–1922) was a Georgia politician, attorney, newspaper editor, and writer.  In the 1890s Watson championed poor farmers as a leader of the Populist Party, articulating an agrarian political viewpoint while attacking business, bankers, railroads, Democratic President Grover Cleveland, and the Democratic Party.  He was elected to the United States Congress (1891-1893), and there pushed through legislation mandating Rural Free Delivery, the “biggest and most expensive endeavor” ever instituted by the U.S. postal service.  He strongly supported the Populist Party and was its nominee for vice president in 1896 under presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan.  The Bryan-Watson ticket lost. 

But Watson continued to be a major leader this the Populist third-party movement.  He was the Populist candidate for president in 1904 and in 1908.

Watson was an influential and productive writer.  In addition to his newspaper work, he wrote The Life and Times of Thomas Jefferson (1903), The Life and Times of Andrew Jackson (1912) and Political and Economic Handbook (1916).

For a study of the Populist third-party movement biographies of William Jennings Bryan and Thomas E. Watson should be sufficient.

Availability of this Book

We suggest Amazon.  Reprints are available.