Thomas W. Harrison

Last updated
Thomas Harrison
Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives
from Virginia's 7th district
In office
March 4, 1923 March 3, 1929
Preceded by John Paul
Succeeded by Jacob A. Garber
In office
November 7, 1916 December 15, 1922
Preceded by James Hay
Succeeded byJohn Paul
Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 12th district
In office
December 8, 1887 December 4, 1895
Preceded byMarshall McCormick
Succeeded byE. H. Jackson
Personal details
Thomas Walter Harrison

(1856-08-05)August 5, 1856
Leesburg, Virginia, U.S.
DiedMay 9, 1935(1935-05-09) (aged 78)
Winchester, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s)Julia Knight
Nellie Cover
Children Burr Powell Harrison and 3 daughters
Alma mater University of Virginia
Occupation Lawyer, politician

Thomas Walter Harrison (August 5, 1856 – May 9, 1935) was a Virginia lawyer, judge and politician. He served in the Senate of Virginia and in the United States House of Representatives. [1]


Early and family life

Born in Leesburg, Loudoun County, Virginia to attorney Matthew Harrison (1822-1875) and his wife, the former Anne Harriott (1822-1894) of Washington DC, Harrison was descended from the First Families of Virginia. His lawyer grandfather Burr William Harrison represented Loudoun County, Virginia in the Virginia House of Delegates 1840-1847. His great-grandfather Richard Henry Lee served in the Continental Congress, including as its President, and in the Virginia House of Burgesses as well as the Constitutional Convention of 1787. [2] Thomas had an older sister Sallie and a younger sister Harriet. He attended local academies at Leesburg, Middleburg, and Hanover. His father owned relatively little property before the American Civil War, [3] but more in 1870 despite the wartime devastation. [4] Thomas attended the academic and law departments of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville and graduated in 1879.

Thomas Harrison married twice. He first married Julia Knight (1854-1899) and they had daughters Katherine Young Harrison (1884-1973), Harriett Harrison (1886-1892) and Julia K. Harrison (1888-1889), then a son, Burr Powell Harrison (1904-1973) who like his father served in the Virginia Senate and U.S. Congress. [5] He then married Nellie Cover (1866-1936), who survived him.


Admitted to the bar in 1879, Harrison began a private legal practice in Winchester, Virginia. In 1883, he and fellow Democrat and lawyer Richard Evelyn Byrd Sr. bought the Winchester Times from Robert W. Hunter, and by 1899 the Times had become the weekly edition of Byrd's Winchester Evening Star. The weekly's last edition was published on March 29, 1905. [6] Voters in 12th district (composed of Clarke, Frederick, and Warren counties) elected Harrison to the Senate of Virginia in 1887 (a seat previously held by Berryville attorney Marshall McCormick) and re-elected him once, so he served from 1887-1895. In 1895 changed the district boundaries substantially, and J.G. Cune was elected to the new senatorial district comprising Frederick and Shenandoah counties, and E.H. Jackson was elected in the new district encompassing Clarke, Page and Warren counties. [7]

Meanwhile, Harrison had not been a candidate for re-election, because the Virginia General Assembly elected him as circuit judge for what was then Virginia's 17th judicial district, and he remained in that office from 1895 until September 1, 1916, when he ran for a seat in the U.S. Congress following the resignation of James Hay. Harrison also won election to the State constitutional convention in 1901 and 1902, representing Winchester and Frederick County.

Voters from Virginia's 7th congressional district elected Harrison as a Democrat to the Sixty-fourth Congress; he would serve from November 7, 1916, to December 15, 1922. During the first four elections, Harrison's opponent was Republican John Paul Jr.. Harrison won the first contests, winning re-election to the Sixty-fifth and Sixty-sixth Congresses. However, in the Sixty-seventh Congress, he only served from March 4, 1921, until December 15, 1922, when the seat was awarded to Republican Paul, who had contested that election.

Harrison defeated Paul to win the seat in the Sixty-eighth, then Paul became U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, so Harrison defeated other Republicans to win re-election to Sixty-ninth, and Seventieth Congresses (March 4, 1923 – March 3, 1929).

He authored Harrison on Wills and Administration for the Michie Co. in 1927.

Harrison lost his re-election bid in 1928 to the Seventy-first Congress to Republican businessman Jacob A. Garber.

Death and legacy

Harrison continued his legal practice in Winchester, Virginia, until his death there on May 9, 1935. He was interred in Winchester's Mount Hebron Cemetery.

Electoral history

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    • United States Congress. "Thomas W. Harrison (id: H000277)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress .
  1. Sons of the American Revolution membership application of Burr P. Harrison available pp. 615-616 of 629 on
  2. In the 1860 census Mathew Harrison owned $9000 in real estate and $1300 in personal property and no slaves, 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Loutdoun County, family no. 543
  3. Mathew Harrison owned $30,000 in real estate and $400 in personal property as well as had two domestic servants in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census for the northern Division of Loudoun County family no. 296
  4. findagrave no.7686011
  5. Lester J. Cappon, Virginia newspapers 1821 - 1925: Guide to Virginia Historical Materials Part 1 (D. Appleton-Century Company Inc.1936) pp. 227-228
  6. Cynthia Miller Leonard (ed), The General Assembly of Virginia 1619-1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members (Richmond, 1978) pp 547, 552, 556, 560, 564


U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
James Hay
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
John Paul
Preceded by
John Paul
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Jacob A. Garber

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website .