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History and GovernmentCongressional BiographiesOklahoma

John William Elmer THOMAS

(1876-1965)
Senate Years of Service:
1927-1951
Party:
Democrat

THOMAS, John William Elmer, a Representative and a Senator from Oklahoma; born on a farm near Greencastle, Putnam County, Ind., September 8, 1876; attended the common schools; graduated from the Central Normal College (now Canterbury), Danville, Ind., in 1897 and from the graduate department of DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind., in 1900; studied law; admitted to the Indiana bar in 1897 and to the Oklahoma bar in 1900, and commenced practice in Oklahoma City, Okla.; moved to Lawton, Okla., in 1901 and continued the practice of law; member, State senate 1907-1920, serving as president pro tempore 1910-1913; unsuccessful candidate for election in 1920 to the Sixty-seventh Congress; elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-eighth and Sixty-ninth Congresses (March 4, 1923-March 3, 1927); was not a candidate for renomination in 1926, having become a candidate for United States Senator; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1926; reelected in 1932, 1938 and 1944 and served from March 4, 1927, to January 3, 1951; unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1950; chairman, Committee on Indian Affairs (Seventy-fourth through Seventy-seventh Congresses), Committee on Agriculture and Forestry (Seventy-eighth, Seventy-ninth and Eighty-first Congresses), Committee on Indian Affairs (Seventy-eighth Congress); engaged in the practice of law in Washington, D.C., until August 1957; returned to Lawton, Okla., where he died September 19, 1965; interment in Highland Cemetery.

Bibliography

American National Biography; Dictionary of American Biography; Thomas, Elmer. Forty Years a Legislator, edited by Richard Lowitt and Carolyn G. Hanneman. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007; Manheimer, Eric. “The Public Career of Elmer Thomas.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Oklahoma, 1953; Thomas, Elmer. Autobiography of an Enigma. New York: Pageant Press, 1965.

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1771-Present

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