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This Day in Georgia History

December 09, 1872

Thomas Hardwick Born

To view an image of the Governor Thomas Hardwick historical marker, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

Lawyer and politician Thomas Hardwick was born in Thomasville, Georgia. After graduating from Mercer (1892) and the University of Georgia Law School (1893), Hardwick began the practice of law in Sandersville. After serving as county prosecuting attorney, he won election to the Georgia house of Representatives in 1898. After four years in the state legislature, Hardwick successfully ran for Congress in 1902 on a platform of black disfranchisement. In Congress, he openly called for disfranchisement and even introduced a measure to repeal the 14th and 15th Amendments (which he felt had been adopted in an unconstitutional manner). In 1906, Hardwick was a leading supporter of black disfranchisement in Georgia, and he helped draft the constitutional amendment that established literacy, good character, and citizenship tests for voting in Georgia. In 1914, Hardwick was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served one term but was defeated in his race for reelection. In 1920, he was elected governor and had a surprisingly progressive term in which he opposed Klan violence and became an advocate for prison reform and the graduated income tax. When Tom Watson died in 1922, Hardwick appointed Rebecca Latimer Felton to Watson’s Senate seat allowing her to become the first woman to hold office in the U.S. Senate. Hardwick’s political career, however, was over, failing to win reelection as governor, a subsequent race for the U.S. Senate, and a final race for governor in 1932. He subsequently resumed the practice of law until his death Jan. 31, 1944 in Sandersville.

Thomas Hardwick Born View large image
Source: Photo: Ed Jackson