Tom Watson, Agrarian Rebel

By C. Vann Woodward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
Preface to Rebellion

WHEN THE NOMINATING CONVENTION met in Atlanta on August 4, it quickly became apparent that, although the votes were divided among five candidates, every one of the 549 delegates had come resolved on one of two purposes--to nominate Governor Colquitt or to defeat that nomination. From the first ballot Colquitt was shown to have a large majority, but not the two-thirds which, according to the rule adopted, was necessary to make him the nominee. Nor would the determined anti-Colquitt minority be persuaded to yield the handful of votes that would increase his vote to two-thirds. Throughout barrages of oratory, appeals to patriotism, and prophecies of the certain doom of "white supremacy" the opposition held its ranks firm. Ballot after ballot only served to emphasize its solidarity and to fix the majority firmer in its determination to nominate Colquitt.

On the third day one of the minority chiefs came forward with the proposal that a committee of representatives from both sides be appointed to select a compromise candidate. In answer to this proposal Patrick Walsh of Augusta, the leader of the Colquitt forces, rose to speak. An Irishman, though "with nothing in him of the mercurial and flashing," Walsh was representative of the new type of Southern leader, the aggressive, self-made business man. Stocky of body, with a massive head set solidly upon a stout neck, he was of manner blunt and "as direct as the course of a cannon ball." In Augusta he managed the

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