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Newspaper The Jeffersonian (Atlanta, Ga.) 1907-1917

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About The Jeffersonian (Atlanta, Ga.) 1907-1917

In October 1906, Thomas E. Watson and his son, John Durham Watson, published the inaugural issue of the Weekly Jeffersonian in Augusta, Georgia. The 16-page paper, which served principally as a medium for Thomas Watson’s editorials, reached a nationwide audience and achieved circulation rates exceeding 25,000. Much like Watson’s first newspaper, the People’s Party Paper, the Jeffersonian should be considered an extension of Watson and his political ambitions. This second paper, however, featured a marked shift in content by regularly displaying nativist, white supremacist, and anti-Catholic material. Watson became a national figure in the 1890s as a fiery representative for the People’s Party (Populist Party) in Georgia, and his influence in the state meant candidates for governor needed Watson’s approval.

As publisher of the Jeffersonian, Watson became an outspoken proponent of disenfranchising African Americans; in fact, support for disenfranchisement was one of several items contingent upon his endorsement for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Hoke Smith. Contrary to his title as Populist, he came to support the county unit system, which gave less-populous counties a disproportionate share of representation. When the nearly-defunct Populist Party nominated Watson for a largely symbolic presidential run in 1908, he asserted that he was “the only candidate in this race who makes a stand for Southern rights and white supremacy.”

Between April 1907 to November 1910, Watson published the Jeffersonian from his offices in Atlanta. After an unsuccessful campaign for state Senate in November 1910, Watson moved the publishing operation to his plantation home, Hickory Hill, in Thomson, Georgia. He purchased new machinery with a $100,000 investment and launched the Jeffersonian Publishing Company with a lavish party. Mrs. Alice Louise Lytle, Watson’s Atlanta office assistant, joined the company as managing editor. Along with these changes, the Jeffersonian began to feature more bold-faced type, red-inked headlines, and sensational attacks on political figures. Most notably, Watson ramped up such extreme anti-Catholic rhetoric that he faced charges for sending obscene literature through the mail. By 1912, every issue of the Jeffersonian featured material voicing opposition to the “Roman Catholic Hierarchy,” which Watson referred to as the “deadliest menace to American liberties and civilization,” and his anti-Catholic editorials continued until the paper’s cessation. During the presidential campaigns that year, Watson aggressively editorialized against Woodrow Wilson, calling him “another Bill Taft,” and eventually announced his support for Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive Party.

By September 1915, Watson’s paper reached a circulation peak of 87,000 due partially to his months-long anti-Semitic crusade against Leo Frank. He later praised Frank’s lynching, believing Frank’s commutation to be an injustice. Despite the Jeffersonian‘s popularity, the newspaper’s demise began with Watson’s anti-war rhetoric. He ceaselessly criticized American involvement in World War I, and he eventually prepared a legal case against conscription. After months of publishing anti-war content, the postmaster general formally complained to the US Senate about Watson’s paper in August 1917. The Post Office Department subsequently banned the Jeffersonian, and Watson did not publish a weekly paper again until after World War One.

Provided By: Digital Library of Georgia, a project of GALILEO located at the University of Georgia Libraries

About this Newspaper


  • The Jeffersonian (Atlanta, Ga.) 1907-1917

Dates of Publication

  • 1907-1917

Created / Published

  • Atlanta, Ga. : [Jeffersonian Pub. Co.], 1907-1917.


  • -  Atlanta (Ga.)--Newspapers
  • -  Georgia--Politics and government--Newspapers
  • -  United States--Politics and government--Newspapers
  • -  Politics and government
  • -  Georgia
  • -  Georgia--Atlanta
  • -  United States
  • -  United States--Georgia--McDuffie--Thomson
  • -  United States--Georgia--Fulton--Atlanta


  • Newspapers


  • -  Weekly
  • -  Vol. 2, no. 45 (Dec. 5, 1907)-v. 14, no. 54 (Aug. 30, 1917).
  • -  Published in Atlanta, Ga. 1907-Nov. 1910; in Thomson, Ga., 1910-Aug. 30, 1917.
  • -  "Democratic and Anti-Clerical." Ayer, 1917.
  • -  Also on microfilm: Athens, Ga. : University of Georgia Libraries, and: Library of Congress, Photoduplication Service.
  • -  Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.


  • volumes : illustrations ; 37 cm

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Newspaper

Library of Congress Control Number

  • sn82014546

OCLC Number

  • 8784538

ISSN Number

  • 2833-5511

Preceding Titles

Additional Metadata Formats


Rights & Access

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

The Jeffersonian Atlanta, Ga. -1917. (Thomson, GA), Jan. 1 1907.

APA citation style:

(1907, January 1) The Jeffersonian Atlanta, Ga. -1917. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

The Jeffersonian Atlanta, Ga. -1917. (Thomson, GA) 1 Jan. 1907. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,