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Thomas Edward Watson, nominee of the People's party for Vice-President, was born in Columbia County, Georgia, on September 5, 1856. After passing through the public schools, he entered Mercer University, at Macon, Ga., in 1872, but did not complete a full course for lack of means. He taught school for a time and then entered the law office of Judge W. R. McLaws, of Augusta, Ga. On his admission to the bar, he began practice at Thomson, in 1876.
In 1880, at the age of twenty-four, he entered the political arena as a delegate to the Democratic State Covention, and at once leaped into fame by one of the most eloquent speeches delivered before that body. In 1882 he was elected to the lower house of the State Legislature, and, in 1888, was a Democratic Presidential elector-at-large.
In 1890 he was elected to Congress from the Augusta District as a Democrat, receiving 5,456 votes, against 597 for Anthony E. Williams, his Republican candidate. In this campaign he exhibited much force and ability as a speaker, and was a stern champion of the principles inculcated by the Farmers' Alliance.
In the House, he distinguished himself as a fiery debater, and took a leading part in several parliamentary battles. His unique personality and sanguine temperament attracted the attention of the country at large. He took strong ground against the principles and methods of both political parties, and thus in turn won the applause of both.
In 1892, he became the nominee of the People's party
for Congress in his district. He began his campaign by the publication of a book which contained charges against the morality of members of the House. An investigation followed, pending which Watson defended the truth of his charges with great ability, but a majority of the investigating committee found them without warrant.
Throughout his second campaign, he championed. cause of the farmer, poor man, and negro, as against the rich, and held a series of exciting debates with his opponent, which resulted in much ill-feeling at the time. Able as he was upon the stump, he could no stem the tide which set in against him, because of his liberal notions, and he was defeated at the election by a vote of 17,772 to 12,333.
In 1894, he again tried conclusions with his old opponent, Mr. Black, and this time as a straighter than ever Populist. Though he made a splendid campaign, he was again doomed to defeat by 20,942 to 13,498 votes. There were charges and counter-charges of fraud, and Mr. Black, declining to enter on a term about which there was a dispute, resigned his seat. This enabled the two competitors to make another appeal to the people. It was made at a special election held October 2d, 1895, and resulted in another defeat for Watson by a vote of 10,193 to 8,637.
In 1878, Mr. Watson was married to Miss Georgia Durham, and has two children. In appearance he is slender, angular and youthful looking. His head is crowned with a luxuriant crop of auburn hair. His physical appearance by no means denotes the fiery zeal, persistent enery, great mental activity, and wonderful oratorical powers of the man who even excels his ruuning mate on the Populist ticket in his speedy march to fame and in superb rhetorical force.
NATIONAL SILVER PARTY.
CANDIDATES AND PLATFORM FOR 1896.
The National Silver Party met in its first National Convention at St. Louis on July 22, 1896, simultaneously with the meeting of the People's party, with which it was in close political affiliation. This new party owed its existence to the American Bimetallic League, which on February 22, 1895, at Chicago, appointed a committee of congressmen, with Hon. William M. Stewart, of Navada, at their head, to promote "the equal use of gold and silver." There was established at Washington an executive committee of the league, or party, whose head and active spirit was ex-Congressman A. Judson Warner, of Marietta, Ohio, afterwards of Washington. Minor leagues were formed throughout the country, all with a common view, and these became consolidated under the name of the American Bimetallic Union.
This union, league or party was encouraged and grew on the hypothesis that neither of the leading political parties would favor its principles in their conventions; but after the adoption of a free silver coinage platform by the Democratic party at Chicago, and the nomination of Bryan and Sewall, it found in both platform and in those candidates what it wanted, and forthwith issued the following proclamation and indorsement through its Executive Committee:
CHICAGO, ILL., July 12.
"To the members of the American Bimetallic Union and of all affiliated unions and leagues throughout the United States, and all other friends of bimetallism :
"Whereas, The American Bimetallic Union, being a consolidation of the American Bimetallic League, the National Bimetallic Union, the National Silver Committee, and other bimetallic organizations, called a conference at Washington, D. C., on the 22d day of January last, at which conference it was determined that the people in the approaching election should have the opportunity to vote for candidates for President and Vice-President, and for members of Congress, committed unequivocally to the restoration of the unrestricted coinage of both gold and silver on the terms of equality existing prior to 1873, and to make this determination sure, a convention was called by said conference to meet at St. Louis on the 22d day of July, there to place in nomination candidates for President and Vice-President, in case, meantime, neither of the two great parties-as then appeared doubtful-offered acceptable candidates on a platform committing the candidates and the party to the restoration of the unrestricted coinage of both gold and silver; and,
"Whereas, The Democratic convention just ended at Chicago has adopted a platform containing all that bimetallists have demanded, fully and unequivocally expressed, and has nominated candidates of distinguished ability, and long known as sincere adherents of our cause; therefore be it
"Resolved, That in the opinion of this committee but one duty remains for the friends of this great cause to perform, and that is to unite as one man in support
of the platform adopted at Chicago and the candidates nominated thereon, and to work with might and main until the election in November to secure the success of this ticket. If this is done we sincerely believe that our cause will be won and prosperity be restored to our people.
"The only danger to be feared is in a division of our own forces, which we pray will not be allowed to take place. To divide our forces on the eve of the great contest before us would be unnatural and suicidal; and for one to lead a revolt in such a cause and at such a time, would come little short of being a public crime. We therefore appeal to all members of the bimetallic union and of affiliated silver leagues and all others opposed to the continuance of the single gold standard, regardless of party affiliations, to come to the support of the platform and the splendid ticket given us at the people's great convention just held at Chicago. We further urge upon all who agree with us upon this vital issue, to join us at St. Louis on July 22d, there to indorse and ratify the work so nobly begun.
"A. J. Warner, President.
"R. C. Chambers, First Vice-President.
"J. B. Grant, of Executive Committee.
This proclamation was of course a commitment, in advance of the forthcoming convention of the party to the Democratic nominees and platform, at least so far as the latter represented free silver coinage, and when the