Tom Watson, Agrarian Rebel

By C. Vann Woodward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
Agrarian Law-making

"SINCE THE CONVENTION of 1880 I had had a fixed determination to run for the Legislature this year," wrote Watson in 1882. This was by no means an unreasonable ambition in a young lawyer of his attainments. It was rather the conventional, the expected thing--a step toward the judge's bench. The actual Representative was retiring at the expiration of his term, with the hope of being elected the next Superior Court judge. Watson expected an easy victory. An aspirant for office was frequently elected without mention of a single issue of race, class, creed, or party--simply by agreement in the primary of the "White Man's Party." At first it seemed that this procedure might be followed with Watson's candidacy, for no opponent appeared at the beginning. He did not believe there would have been any opposition had not his shooting scrape with W. D. Tutt brought on "various obstacles." Indeed this affair but introduced the first of the issues customarily circumvented--all of which Watson succeeded in stirring up to a dramatic pitch in this his first contest for office.1

Feeling between Watson and Tutt had been brewing for over five years. The day Watson arrived in Thomson to begin his law practice in 1876 he was greeted at the railway station by loud guffaws provoked by a remark at his expense from Tutt. "If I had had my gun," Watson told a friend, "I would have

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1
MS. Journal 2, p. 292.

-96-

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