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Anderson, William Thomas

Newspaper publisher and editor William Thomas Anderson was born in rural Haynesville, Georgia on August 21, 1871. Anderson early showed a proclivity for the newspaper business, beginning work at age nine as an assistant to the printer of a small paper in Hawkinsville. By the time he was sixteen, he and his brother were working for the Macon Telegraph. After spending a brief time in New York, the Anderson brothers returned to the Macon Telegraph for good. W.T., as he was called, quickly moved up the ladder into management, first as foreman, then superintendent, then to general manger in 1908. When the paper’s owner died in 1914, Anderson and his brother secured a controlling interest in the newspaper, which they would retain (except for a brief interval from 1939-1942) for the rest of Anderson’s life. While his brother oversaw the business and technical aspects of the paper, W.T. concentrated on news writing, reporting, and especially editorials. Anderson was a very independent thinker for his times, and he often stood his ground even when threatened with violence. He did not support the latter stages of the New Deal, even though he was a personal friend of Franklin Roosevelt and had helped raise funds for construction of the Warm Springs rehabilitation facilities for polio victims. Anderson even dared criticize the Ku Klux Klan at the height of its power in the 1920s and ‘30s. His editorials called for equal justice and educational opportunities for blacks, even after his life had been threatened and crosses burned on his lawn. No shrinking violet, he warned in his editorials that he traveled armed. Anderson even had a special section of the Macon Telegraph published by blacks specifically for blacks. Politically, Anderson was not tied by party affiliation and supported whomever he thought to be the best candidate. He lived a lively social life, belonging to many clubs and active in many civic projects. He remained active until his death in Macon on November 23, 1945.