John W. Thomas

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For other people of the same name, see John Thomas (disambiguation).
John W. Thomas
United States Senator
from Idaho
In office
June 30, 1928 – March 3, 1933
January 27, 1940 – November 10, 1945
Preceded by Frank R. Gooding (1928)
William E. Borah (1940)
Succeeded by James P. Pope (1933)
Charles C. Gossett (1945)
Personal details
Born January 4, 1874
Phillips County, Kansas
Died November 10, 1945(1945-11-10) (aged 71)
Washington, D.C.
Resting place Elmwood Cemetery
Gooding, Idaho
Nationality United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Florence Johnson Thomas
(m. 1906–1943, her death)[1]
Children Mary Elizabeth Thomas
Peavey Brooks
Residence Gooding
Alma mater Central Normal College
Profession Teacher, Banker

John W. Thomas (January 4, 1874 – November 10, 1945) was an American politician. A Republican, he served on two occasions as a United States Senator from Idaho, both times appointed after his predecessor died in office.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born on a farm in Phillips County, Kansas, Thomas attended the rural schools and the Central Normal College at Great Bend, Kansas. He taught school, serving as superintendent of schools of Phillips County, Kansas from 1898 to 1903, and as register of land office at Colby, Kansas from 1906 to 1909, when he moved to Gooding, Idaho, where he engaged in banking and livestock business.

Political life[edit]

He was elected mayor of Gooding in 1917 for a two-year term. Thomas was a member of the Republican National Committee from 1925 to 1933.

Thomas was appointed to the United States Senate for the first time in 1928 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of his political mentor, Frank R. Gooding, by Governor H. C. Baldridge. He won a special election later that year to finish the term. He chaired the Senate Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation from 1929 to 1933. Thomas was defeated for election to a full six-year term in 1932 by Democrat James P. Pope.

After his 1932 defeat Thomas resumed his former business pursuits. In 1940 he was appointed to the Senate again, this time by Governor C. A. Bottolfsen to fill the vacancy caused by the death of William E. Borah. Thomas won a special election to finish the term later that year and was elected to a full term in 1942, both times defeating Democrat Glen H. Taylor. Thomas died in office three years later.

Thomas is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Gooding.


Thomas and his wife Florence had a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Thomas Peavey Brooks, on Nov. 1, 1907, who would later become an Idaho State Senator and director of the U.S. Mint. After the death of her first husband, Art Peavey, Mary married C. Wayland Brooks, a U.S. Senator from Illinois who had served with Senator Thomas. A grandson, John Peavey, served for over two decades in the Idaho Senate and was the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Idaho in 1994.


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

  1. ^ "Wife of Idaho senator dead". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. November 16, 1943. p. 20. 
  2. ^ "Senator John Thomas succumbs to illness". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. November 11, 1945. p. 1. 

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Frank R. Gooding
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Idaho
June 30, 1928–March 3, 1933
Served alongside: William E. Borah
Succeeded by
James P. Pope
Preceded by
William E. Borah
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
January 27, 1940–November 10, 1945
Served alongside: D. Worth Clark, Glen H. Taylor
Succeeded by
Charles C. Gossett
Party political offices
Preceded by
Frank R. Gooding
Republican Party nominee, U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Idaho
1928 special (won), 1932 (lost)
Succeeded by
Donald A. Callahan
Preceded by
William E. Borah
Republican Party nominee, U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
1940 special (won), 1942 (won)
Succeeded by
Henry Dworshak