Of Revolution and Revolutionists
AFTER THE DEBACLE OF 1896, Tom Watson became virtually a political recluse for a period that lasted eight years. Begun when he was barely forty, an age at which the average politician only begins to enjoy the fruits of his apprenticeship, his enforced retirement constitutes a remarkable interlude in an otherwise active career. It was a period about which, although he was wont to expand upon his tribulations, he had little to say in later years. When he did refer to it, he did so briefly and always in the same mood. In 1910 he wrote, "What I suffered in those awful years is known to none but the wife who shared my lot and the God Who gave me strength to endure it."
Partly the period was filled with prolific writing, and partly by a thriving law practice. Six years of unremunerative political agitation had plunged him into debt, and it was to law rather than to letters that he first turned to mend his fortunes.1 Early in 1897 it was reported that "the lawyers of middle Georgia are very generally complaining that they cannot secure a conviction of a man charged with murder." This was attributed to no general indifference to the value of human life, but to the fact that Watson was again "professionally at large" and stood in the way of prosecuting attorneys.2
Toward his party and its leadership he continued to maintain____________________