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Governor Thomas William Hardwick

Sources: Library of Congress, Cotton to Kaolin

Political Life

Thomas W. Hardwick was born on 9 December 1872, in Thomas County, Georgia, to Robert W. Hardwick and Zemula Schley Hardwick. He received his AB from Mercer University in 1892 and his BL from Lumpkin Law School, University of Georgia, in 1893. He was admitted to the bar the same year and commenced practice in Sandersville, Georgia; prosecuting attorney for Washington County from 1895-1897.

He was first elected to the state legislature as a representative of Washington County in 1898. He then advanced to the US House of Representatives from the 10th District from 1903 until 1914. He was then elected to the US Senate to fill the unexpired term of the late Senator Augustus O. Bacon. While in the senate, Hardwick became known for his strong opposition to President Woodrow Wilson's war preparedness legislation. Hardwick was also served as chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Post Office Department (63rd & 64th Congresses), Committee on Immigration (65th Congress), Committee on Industrial Expositions (65th Congress). He was defeated for renomination to the Senate in the Democratic Primary in 1918, but returned to the political field two years later as candidate for Governor of Georgia and was elected to the term June 1921 - June 1923. He failed to win a second term.As Governor, Hardwick attempted prison reform, issuing an executive order against the practice of flogging convicts. Hardwick had a program of economy and simplification of state government, as well as the reorganization of state-supported higher educational institutions into a system controlled by a Board of Regents. However, the state legislature would not pass his recommendations. It was also while serving as governor that Hardwick had the courage to denounce the then powerful Ku Klux Klan, branding it a lawless organization for which there could be no excuse in a civilized state. He was defeated while seeking re-election as governor by Cliff Walker, who had the support of the Klan.

Following his term as governor, Hardwick was assistant to the Attorney General of the United States from July 1923 to May 1924. He later served as a representative of the Russian Government before the United States resumed diplomatic relations with Russia and worked for the country's recognition of the Soviet Union.Thomas Hardwick endeavored more than once to make a comeback in Georgia politics, but without success. During this time, he did maintain his law practice with offices in Atlanta, Sandersville and Washington, D.C.

Family Life

The Hardwick family came from Virginia to Jefferson County, Georgia in the late 1700s. Around 1880, the family settled in Washington County. Thomas' father, Robert William Hardwick(b. 1 September 1849), son of Thomas William Hardwick and Mary Elizabeth Davis, married Zemula Schley Matthews (b. 18 July 1831), daughter of Enos and Temperance Davis ofWashington County, on 31 October 1848. Robert and Zemula had two sons, Thomas William and Robert Walter who died at the age of sixteen. Robert Hardwick died in Thomasville, Georgia while visiting relatives and is buried in a family plot there. His wife, Zemula is interred in the Hardwick family plot in the Old City Cemetery in Sandersville, Georgia.

Thomas William Hardwick was married to Maude Perkins (b. 24 June 1874), daughter of George Washington Perkins of Washington County and Mary Wallace of Burke County, on 25 April 1894 at Tennille Baptist Church. They had three daughters together, though only one survived to adulthood. Issue: 1) Mildred Hardwick b. 17 January 1896 d. 19 February 1898, 2) Mary Hardwick Rawlings, who was born 6 October 1897. Mary married Fredrick Bangs Rawlings (b. 12 August 1889), renowned physician and surgeon. Maude died on 12 July 1937. Thomas was remarried in 1938 to Sallie Warren West. He died on 31 January 1944 in Sandersville, Georgia. He is interred in the Old City Cemetery inLot 201, Row 9.

This Page was Created July 2008 | Last Modified Sunday, 02-Sep-2012 06:54:14 MDT