Tom Watson, Agrarian Rebel

By C. Vann Woodward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXI
"The World Is Plunging Hellward"

AS THE LEADER of a national party, Tom Watson occupied an anomalous position with relation to three of his rivals in the approaching presidential contest of 1908. In the fall of 1906, while he was dictating from Hickory Hill the reform policies of a Democratic governor, he received a letter from Bryan, then touring the South. Bryan expressed his regrets that he was unable to return the visit that Watson had paid him at his home, and added:

It is gratifying to know from what I have learned that we are going to be able to act together in the coming contest. There has been a remarkable change in public sentiment, so that things that were formerly denounced as radical, are now regarded as not only quite reasonable, but even necessary.1

Watson's public answer was: "'Act together,' William? Why not--if you take our principles for your creed and reorganize your old party to fit your new faith?"

In the meanwhile President Roosevelt confirmed the predictions of his bitterest critic that "he would next be going to the noted Populist for advice and inspiration." He invited Watson to dine at the White House. Watson reported that he warned the President against the prostitution of the federal judiciary to

____________________
1
William Jennings Bryan to T. E. W., Sept. 22, 1906, Watson's Jeffersonian Magazine, Vol. I ( Jan., 1907), p. 31.

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