Thomas Watt Gregory
Thomas Watt Gregory was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 attorney and Cabinet
United States Cabinet
The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, which are generally the heads of the federal executive departments...



Born in Crawfordsville, Mississippi, he graduated from The Webb School in Bell Buckle, TN in 1881, Southwestern Presbyterian University in 1883, and was a special student at the University of Virginia
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

. Gregory entered the University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin is a state research university located in Austin, Texas, USA, and is the flagship institution of the The University of Texas System. Founded in 1883, its campus is located approximately from the Texas State Capitol in Austin...

 in 1884 and graduated a year later with a degree in law.

He began the practice of law in Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas
Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of :Texas and the seat of Travis County. Located in Central Texas on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, it is the fourth-largest city in Texas and the 14th most populous city in the United States. It was the third-fastest-growing large city in...

, in 1885. He served as a regent of the University of Texas for eight years. Gregory Gymnasium
Gregory Gymnasium
Gregory Gymnasium is the 4,400-seat current home of the University of Texas Longhorn Women's Volleyball team, and former home of the Longhorn Basketball and Swimming teams. The basketball teams moved out in 1977 to the Erwin Center....

 was named in honor of his efforts to provide an adequate exercise facility for the students and faculty of the University. He declined appointment as assistant attorney general of Texas in 1892, and an appointment to the state bench in 1896.

While embracing the progressive rhetoric of the early twentieth century with his condemnations of "plutocratic power," "predatory wealth," and "the greed of the party spoilsmen," Gregory participated in Col. Edward M. House
Edward M. House
Edward Mandell House was an American diplomat, politician, and presidential advisor. Commonly known by the title of Colonel House, although he had no military experience, he had enormous personal influence with U.S...

' essentially conservative Democratic coalition.

Gregory was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention
Democratic National Convention
The Democratic National Convention is a series of presidential nominating conventions held every four years since 1832 by the United States Democratic Party. They have been administered by the Democratic National Committee since the 1852 national convention...

 at St. Louis and State delegate at large to the Baltimore convention. He was appointed Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney General
United States Attorney General
The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. The attorney general is considered to be the chief lawyer of the U.S. government...

 in 1913, in the investigation and proceedings against the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 appointed him Attorney General of the United States, and he held that office until 1919. Despite a continuing commitment to progressive reform, Gregory's performance as attorney general provoked enormous controversy because of his collaboration with postmaster general Albert S. Burleson
Albert S. Burleson
Albert Sidney Burleson was a United States Postmaster General and Congressman. Born in San Marcos, Texas, he came from a wealthy Southern family. His father, Edward Burleson, Jr., was a Confederate officer. His grandfather, Edward Burleson, was a soldier and statesman in the Republic of Texas and...

 and others in orchestrating a campaign to crush domestic dissent during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Gregory helped frame the Espionage and Sedition Acts, which compromised the constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and press, and lobbied for their passage. He encouraged extralegal surveillance by the American Protective League
American Protective League
The American Protective League was an American organization of private citizens that worked with Federal law enforcement agencies during the World War I era to identify suspected German sympathizers and to counteract the activities of radicals, anarchists, anti-war activists, and left-wing labor...

 and directed the federal prosecutions of more than 2,000 opponents of the war.

In 1916 President Wilson wanted to appoint Gregory to the United States Supreme Court, but the attorney general declined the offer because of his impaired hearing, his eagerness to participate in Wilson's reelection campaign, and his belief that he lacked the necessary temperament to be a judge. Gregory was a member of Wilson's Second Industrial Conference in 1919 and 1920.

During a trip to New York to confer with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Gregory contracted pneumonia and died, on February 26, 1933. He is buried in Austin.

His portrait was painted in 1917 by the Swiss-born American artist Adolfo Müller-Ury
Adolfo Müller-Ury
Adolfo Muller-Ury was a Swiss-born American portrait painter and impressionistic painter of roses and still life.-Heritage and early life in Switzerland:...

(1862-1947), and hangs in the Department of Justice in Washington DC.

External links

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