Thomas J. Walsh

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Thomas J. Walsh
Thomas J. Walsh cph.3c02581.jpg
United States Senator
from Montana
In office
March 4, 1913 – March 2, 1933
Preceded by Joseph M. Dixon
Succeeded by John E. Erickson
Personal details
Born Thomas James Walsh
(1859-06-12)June 12, 1859
Two Rivers, Wisconsin
Died March 2, 1933(1933-03-02) (aged 73)
near Wilson, North Carolina
Political party Democratic
Profession Law

Thomas James Walsh (June 12, 1859 – March 2, 1933) was a lawyer and Democratic Party politician from Helena, Montana who represented Montana in the United States Senate from 1913 to 1933. He had a national reputation as a liberal and was President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt's choice as Attorney General when he died.[1]


Walsh was born in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, the son of Irish Catholic immigrants, Bridget (Comer) and Felix Walsh, an active Democrat and a member of the local school board. He spent some time teaching in the public schools in Wisconsin. Walsh then went to University of Wisconsin–Madison and University of Wisconsin Law School and was admitted to the Wisconsin Bar. Walsh moved to Redfield, Dakota Territory to practice law. In August 1889, he married Elinor McClements (1859-1917). They had a daughter, Genevieve, born in 1890. Moving to Helena, Montana in 1890,[2][3][4] Walsh worked on injury cases involving railroad accidents and on copper litigation.[citation needed]


Walsh became a leader in Democratic Party politics in Helena, Montana. He was defeated in the 1906 election for Congress. He was first elected to the United States Senate in 1912, and served until his death in 1933. He emerged as a spokesman for President Woodrow Wilson in the Senate and supported the graduated income tax, farm loans, and women's suffrage. He managed President Wilson's western campaign against Charles Evans Hughes, which resulted in Wilson's very narrow reelection victory. Walsh, unlike many Irish Catholics, supported Wilson's foreign policy. He voted for war against Germany in 1917 and in 1919 supported Wilson's peace plans, including the League of Nations. In 1918, he ran for re-election, and in an unusual three-way election that included him, former State Representative Oscar M. Lanstrum as the Republican nominee, and United States Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin as the National Party nominee, narrowly won his second term. When Walsh ran for re-election in 1924, he defeated Frank Bird Linderman by a solid margin. In 1930, Walsh ran for re-election to what would be his fourth and final term in the Senate, and defeated Albert J. Galen in a landslide. During his tenure in the Senate, Walsh gained fame for his legal ability in the Judiciary Committee and on the floor.

In the 1920s, Walsh headed the Senate investigation into the Teapot Dome scandal that involved top officials of the administration of President Warren G. Harding.[5] He was chairman of the Democratic National Convention in New York in 1924, and of Chicago in 1932. Walsh opposed child labor, and supported women's suffrage and Prohibition.

In 1933, Walsh was nominated for the post of Attorney General by incoming President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In late February, he married in secret to Mina Nieves Perez Chaumont de Truffin. Less than a week after their marriage, he died of a heart attack on the train to Washington for Roosevelt's inauguration.[5]

His funeral service was held in the Chamber of the United States Senate; interment in Resurrection Cemetery, Helena, Mont.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tribune Staff. "125 Montana Newsmakers: Sen. Thomas J. Walsh". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  2. ^ Ruthmansdorfer, Paul. "Thomas J. (James) Walsh". Two Rivers Economic Ddevelopment. City of Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Archived from the original on April 16, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Wisconsin, County Marriages, 1836-1911". FamilySearch. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  4. ^ Hernon, Joseph Martin (2016). "6". Profiles in Character: Hubris and Heroism in the U.S. Senate, 1789-1996: Hubris and Heroism in the U.S. Senate, 1789-1996. Routledge. ISBN 9781315479514. 
  5. ^ a b Cook, Blanche Wiesen (1999). Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol. 2: 1933–1938. Viking. p. 28. ISBN 067080486X. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  6. ^ WALSH, Thomas James, (1859 - 1933)

Further reading[edit]

  • J. Leonard Bates. "Walsh, Thomas James"; American National Biography Online Feb. 2000
  • J. Leonard Bates, ed. Tom Walsh in Dakota Territory: Personal Correspondence of Senator Thomas J. Walsh and Elinor C. McClements (1966).

External links[edit]

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Joseph M. Dixon
U.S. Senator from Montana
Succeeded by
John E. Erickson