John Sharp Williams


John Sharp Williams

John Sharp Williams (July 30, 1854 - September 27, 1932) was a prominent American politician in the Democratic Party from the 1890s through the 1920s, and served as the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives from 1903 to 1908.

Williams was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but raised in Yazoo County, Mississippi, after he was orphaned during the American Civil War. After studying at five different universities (including two in Europe), he received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1876. After a brief return to Memphis (where he married Elizabeth Dial Webb in 1877), Williams returned to Yazoo County, where from 1878 to 1893 he ran the family plantation and kept a law practice.

Elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1893, Williams soon became a leader of the Democratic minority, renowned for his speaking skill and wit. Like most Southern Democrats of the day, he was a proponent of coining silver and an opponent of high tariffs; unlike them, he refused to use race-baiting to build political popularity.

By beating one of Mississippi's leading race-baiters, James K. Vardaman, Williams moved to the United States Senate in 1911. He became one of Woodrow Wilson's strongest supporters, from Wilson's nomination for the Presidency in 1912 through the losing battle to ratify American participation in the League of Nations in 1920. During his time as a senator, he also served as a chairman of the Committee to Establish a University of the United States.

After retiring from the Senate in 1923, Williams returned to his family plantation, where he spent the last decade of his life.

As an aside, Senator John Sharp Williams of Mississippi claimed in the Senate (and it was duly entered in the Congressional Record) that no nation in proportion to its size had contributed more to the development of the United States than had the Welsh.

References

* Williams, David. National Library of Wales Journal, Summer 1942, Vol II/3 & 4 (http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/USA.html)

External links

* [http://purl.oclc.org/umarchives/MUM00480/ The John Sharp Williams Collection (MUM00480)] can be found at the University of Mississippi, Archive and Special Collections


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