Henry Watterson

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Henry Watterson
Henry Watterson - Project Gutenberg etext 18422.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 5th district
In office
August 12, 1876 – March 3, 1877
Preceded byEdward Y. Parsons
Succeeded byAlbert S. Willis
Personal details
Born(1840-02-16)February 16, 1840
Washington, D.C.
DiedDecember 22, 1921(1921-12-22) (aged 81)
Jacksonville, Florida
NationalityAmerican
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Rebecca Ewing
SignatureHenry Watterson

Henry Watterson (February 16, 1840 – December 22, 1921), the son of a U.S. Congressman from Tennessee, became a prominent journalist in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as a Confederate soldier, author and partial term U.S. Congressman. A Democrat like his father Harvey Magee Watterson, Henry Watterson for five decades after the American Civil War was a part-owner and editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal, which founded by Walter Newman Haldeman and would be purchased by Robert Worth Bingham in 1919, who would end the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist's association with the paper.[1][2]

Early and family life[edit]

Born in Washington, D.C. on February 16, 1840, to the former Tilithacumi (Talitha) Black of Spring Hill, Tennessee and her husband, Harvey Magee Watterson, a Shelbyville, Tennessee lawyer and U.S. Congressman. His father was close to President Andrew Jackson, also from Tennessee, and in 1843 would become the publisher of the Washington Union, the main newspaper of the Democratic party of that era. His uncle in Ohio would also become a newspaper editor, lawyer, Union soldier during the Civil War and ultimately Republican U.S. Supreme Court justice Stanley Matthews.

Henry was an only child, with neither brothers nor sisters. He was sickly, with very poor eyesight and that only in one eye, so that his mother home-schooled him in Washington, D.C. and their home in Nashville, Tennessee.[3] until he was twelve years old. She then sent him to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he received his only formal education, at an academy run by an Episcopal priest, and he also ran the school paper, the New Era, on a press his father donated.[4] After the American Civil War as discussed below, in September 1865, Watterson returned to Nashville to marry Rebecca Ewing (1842-1929), with whom he would have six sons and two daughters. They were able to hire live-in Irish servants, and by 1880 his parents also lived with them.[5] Their sons were Ewing (1868- ),[6] Henry Jr. (1877-) and Harvey W. Watterson (1879–1908) and their daughters were Lady (1871-) and Ethel Watterson Gilmour (1880–1907; who died in childbirth).[7]

Career[edit]

Watterson became a newspaper reporter early in his life.[8] In 1856 he moved to New York to work on various publication, and in 1858 he moved to Washington to work on other publications.[9]

When his father returned to Tennessee in 1861 after the outbreak of the American Civil War, Henry Watterson did too. He volunteered for the Confederate States Army, and was attached at various times to the staffs of Generals Joseph E. Johnston, Leonidas Polk and Nathan B. Forrest. His main contribution to the Confederate war effort, however, was editorial, with the Chattanooga Rebel and the Nashville Banner. After the Confederacy lost, Watterson edited the Cincinnati Evening Post for six months.[10] By September 1865 Watterson returned to Nashville, married, become editor and part owner of the Nashville Banner, where he began his “New Departure” campaign urging national reconciliation.

Watterson ultimately settled down in Louisville, Kentucky, having met Walter Newman Haldeman during the war, and began editing the Louisville Journal. That paper merged with the Louisville Courier in 1868, forming the Courier-Journal. This paper soon gained national attention for its excellent reporting.[citation needed] Watterson was a leader of the Liberal Republican movement in 1872. By 1876 he was a Democrat; his proposal for hundreds of thousands of Democrats to march on Washington to force the election of Tilden angered President Ulysses S. Grant, who noted that nobody threatened Grant. Watterson was elected to fill the rest of Edward Y. Parsons' term in the U.S. House when Parsons died in office.

Watterson was called "the last of the great personal journalists", writing colorful and controversial editorials on many topics under the pen name "Marse Henry". Hundreds of American papers republished them; they were an early exemplar of the syndicated column which played a significant role creating public support for U.S. intervention in the First World War. Watterson won the Pulitzer Prize in 1918 for two editorials supporting U.S. entry into World War I, and he remained the paper's editor until 1919, retiring after conflicts with Robert Worth Bingham, who purchased the paper in 1918.

During his tenure as editor, Watterson was a Democratic representative in Congress from 1876 to 1877. He was also a five-time delegate to the National Democratic Convention, where, in 1892, Watterson received a smattering of votes for the vice presidential nomination. He became widely known as a lecturer and orator. His publications include History of the Spanish–American War (1899) and The Compromises of Life (1902).

Death and legacy[edit]

Watterson died in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida in 1921, survived for several years by his widow as well as many grandchildren. He was interred the Louisville's Cave Hill cemetery.[11] The portion of I-264 from the junction with US 31W to its northeastern terminus at I-71 is known as the Watterson Expressway.

A Jefferson County Public School in eastern Louisville is named Watterson Elementary School.

Enduring quotes[edit]

"Things have come to a hell of a pass, when a man can't whip his own jackass." (i.e. Democratic Party)[12]

"We are a great imperial Republic, destined to exercise a controlling influence upon the actions of mankind and to affect the future of the world as the world was never affected, even by the Roman Empire."[13][14]

Bibliography[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.kyenc.org/entry/w/WATTE01.html
  2. ^ https://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/henry-watterson/
  3. ^ 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee family 528 in dwelling 429 also included two male boarders, a 28 year old clerk and an 18 year old trainee barrister
  4. ^ http://www.kyenc.org/entry/w/WATTE01.html
  5. ^ 1880 U.S. Federal Census for district 124, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky family 79
  6. ^ 1870 U.S. Federal Census for Louisville Ward 6, Jefferson County, Kentucky family 459
  7. ^ https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6822408
  8. ^ Federal Writers' Project (1996). The WPA Guide to Kentucky. University Press of Kentucky. p. 104. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  9. ^ https://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/henry-watterson/
  10. ^ https://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/henry-watterson/
  11. ^ findagave no. 6822408
  12. ^ Joseph F. Wall (1956) Henry Watterson, Reconstructed Rebel, New York, OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS.
  13. ^ David Healy, US Expansionism: The Imperialist Urge in the 1890s, (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1970), p 46.
  14. ^ Philip S. Golub, "The Cycle of American Empire," Global Dialogue, 5/1, (2003): p 12-21.
  • Encyclopedia of Kentucky. New York, New York: Somerset Publishers. 1987. pp. 189–192. ISBN 0-403-09981-1.
  • Daniel S. Margolies. Henry Watterson And the New South: The Politics of Empire, Free Trade, And Globalization (2006)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Edward Y. Parsons
U.S. Congressman, Kentucky 5th District
1876 - 1877
Succeeded by
Albert S. Willis