John W. Thomas
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John W. Thomas
John W. Thomas
United States Senator
from Idaho

June 30, 1928 - March 3, 1933
January 27, 1940 – November 10, 1945
Frank Gooding (1928)
William Borah (1940)
James Pope (1933)
Charles Gossett (1945)
Personal details
John William Thomas

January 4, 1874
Prairie View, Kansas
DiedNovember 10, 1945(1945-11-10) (aged 71)
Washington, D.C.
Resting placeElmwood Cemetery
Gooding, Idaho
NationalityUnited States
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Florence Johnson Thomas
(m. 1906-1943, her death)[1]
Children1 daughter:
Mary Elizabeth Thomas
Peavey Brooks
Alma materCentral Normal College (KS)
ProfessionTeacher, Banker

John William Thomas (January 4, 1874 - November 10, 1945) was an American politician, a United States Senator from Idaho. A Republican, he served for a total of over ten years in two different seats, both times appointed after his predecessor died in office.[2] He won three of the four elections for senator, falling only in the Democratic landslide of 1932, and died in office.

Early life

Born on a farm in northern Kansas near Prairie View in Phillips County, Thomas attended the rural schools and the Central Normal College at Great Bend. He taught school, serving as superintendent of schools of Phillips County in Phillipsburg from 1898 to 1903, and as register of land office at Colby from 1906 to 1909, then moved west to south central Idaho and settled at Gooding, where he engaged in banking and livestock business.

Political life

Thomas was elected mayor of Gooding in 1917 for a two-year term, and was a member of the Republican National Committee from 1925 to 1933.

He was appointed to the U.S. Senate for the first time in 1928 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of his political mentor, Frank Gooding, by Governor H. C. Baldridge.[3][4] Thomas won the special election later that year to finish the four years of the term,[5][6] and chaired the Senate Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation from 1929 to 1933. Losing support from the progressives late in the term,[7][8] he was defeated for re-election in 1932 by Democrat James Pope.[9][10]

After his 1932 defeat, Thomas resumed his former business pursuits. He was appointed to the Senate again in 1940, this time by Governor C. A. Bottolfsen, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of William Borah, the dean of the Senate.[6][11] Thomas won another special election to finish the term later that year,[12][13] and was elected to a full term in 1942,[14][15] both times defeating Democrat Glen H. Taylor, and died in office three years later.[2]

Election results

U.S. Senate elections in Idaho (Class II & III): Results 1928-1942
Year Class Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1928 III Chase Clark 53,399 36.7% John W. Thomas (inc.) 90,922 62.6% C.J. Lundt Socialist 1,016 0.7%
1932 III James Pope 103,020 55.6% John W. Thomas (inc.) 78,325 42.3% Earl Oliason Liberty 3,801 2.1%
1940 II Glen H. Taylor 110,614 47.0% John W. Thomas (inc.) 124,535 53.0%
1942 II Glen H. Taylor 68,989 48.5% John W. Thomas (inc.) 73,353 51.5%


  • 1928 and 1940 were special elections (November) to complete the terms, both vacated by death (Gooding and Borah).
    Thomas was appointed by the governor on both occasions and was the incumbent.


Married in Kansas in 1906, Thomas and his wife Florence (1873-1943) had a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Thomas Peavey Brooks (1907-2002), who became a state senator in the 1960s and was the director of the U.S. Mint in the 1970s. Widowed in 1941, Mary moved her young family to Washington, D.C. after her mother's death in 1943. Three years later, she married C. Wayland Brooks, a U.S. Senator from Illinois who had served with her father. Her son, John Peavey (b. 1933), served for over two decades in the Idaho state senate, switching parties in 1978, and was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 1994.


Thomas had been in failing health for over a year and died in 1945 at age 71 of a cerebral hemorrhage at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C.[2] His wife Florence had died more than two years earlier, also from a cerebral hemorrhage.[1] They are buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Gooding.[17][18]

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

  1. ^ a b "Wife of Idaho senator dead". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. November 16, 1943. p. 20.
  2. ^ a b c "Senator John Thomas succumbs to illness". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. Associated Press. November 11, 1945. p. 1.
  3. ^ "Idaho governor faces tough political job". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. June 30, 1928. p. 21.
  4. ^ "Select senator at convention". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. July 7, 1928. p. 9.
  5. ^ "Hoover won 39 Idaho counties". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. November 8, 1928. p. 11.
  6. ^ a b "Thomas appointed to succeed Borah". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. January 27, 1940. p. 2.
  7. ^ Buck, Storey (November 13, 1931). "Thomas of Idaho faces crossfire from two parties". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. p. 2.
  8. ^ Buck, Storey (May 17, 1932). "Political battle raging in Idaho". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. p. 2.
  9. ^ "Complete overthrow in Idaho, except Gov. Ross". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. Associated Press. November 9, 1932. p. 1.
  10. ^ "Bourbons hold whip in state". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. Associated Press. November 10, 1932. p. 1.
  11. ^ "Thomas named Idaho Senator". Bend Bulletin. Oregon. United Press. January 27, 1940. p. 1.
  12. ^ "Idaho governor to be Democrat". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. November 7, 1940. p. 1.
  13. ^ "Glen H. Taylor's campaign of song fails to win Idaho senatorial post". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. United Press. November 7, 1940. p. 2.
  14. ^ "Clark, Thomas, White, and Dworshak in lead". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. Associated Press. November 4, 1942. p. 1.
  15. ^ "Gov. Clark leads by 195 with 46 precincts missing". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. Associated Press. November 5, 1942. p. 1.
  16. ^ "Office of the Clerk: Election statistics". U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved 2015.
  17. ^ "Funeral service for Sen. Thomas will be held in Gooding Thursday". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. Associated Press. November 14, 1945. p. 1.
  18. ^ "Friends praise record of late Idaho senator". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. Associated Press. November 16, 1945. p. 4.

External links

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Frank Gooding
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Idaho
June 30, 1928–March 3, 1933
Served alongside: William Borah
Succeeded by
James Pope
Preceded by
William Borah
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
January 27, 1940–November 10, 1945
Served alongside: D. Worth Clark, Glen H. Taylor
Succeeded by
Charles Gossett
Party political offices
Preceded by
Frank Gooding
Republican Party nominee, U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Idaho
1928 special (won), 1932 (lost)
Succeeded by
Donald Callahan
Preceded by
William Borah
Republican Party nominee, U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
1940 special (won), 1942 (won)
Succeeded by
Henry Dworshak

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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