Thomas W. Williams (Los Angeles)

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Thomas W. Williams (ca. 1867–1931) was a former coal miner, school principal and church minister who was a member of the Los Angeles, California, City Council between 1929 and 1931. He was the first councilman elected under the 1925 city charter to die in office.

Coal A combustible sedimentary rock composed primarily of carbon

Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock, formed as rock strata called coal seams. Coal is mostly carbon with variable amounts of other elements; chiefly hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen. Coal is formed if dead plant matter decays into peat and over millions of years the heat and pressure of deep burial converts the peat into coal. Vast deposits of coal originates in former wetlands—called coal forests—that covered much of the Earth's tropical land areas during the late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) and Permian times.

Mining The extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth

Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the Earth, usually from an ore body, lode, vein, seam, reef or placer deposit. These deposits form a mineralized package that is of economic interest to the miner.

Los Angeles City Council

The Los Angeles City Council is the governing body of the City of Los Angeles.



Williams was born around 1867 [1] in Utah and began work in a coal mine when he was "little more than 8, to support his mother, his father having died when he was a baby." He attended grammar and high schools at night and when he was 18 he became principal of a school in Lucas, Iowa. He became a minister of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, preached and traveled through Europe as a missionary. [2]

Utah A state of the United States of America

Utah is a state in the western United States. It became the 45th state admitted to the U.S. on January 4, 1896. Utah is the 13th-largest by area, 30th-most-populous, and 11th-least-densely populated of the 50 United States. Utah has a population of more than 3 million according to the Census estimate for July 1, 2016. Urban development is mostly concentrated in two areas: the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, which contains approximately 2.5 million people; and Washington County in Southern Utah, with over 160,000 residents. Utah is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast.

Coal mining Process of getting coal out of the ground

Coal mining is the process of extracting coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content and since the 1880s, has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United Kingdom and South Africa, a coal mine and its structures are a colliery, a coal mine - a pit, and the above-ground structures - a pit head. In Australia, "colliery" generally refers to an underground coal mine. In the United States, "colliery" has been used to describe a coal mine operation but nowadays the word is not commonly used.

Lucas, Iowa City in Iowa, USA

Lucas is a city in Lucas County, Iowa, United States. The population was 216 at the 2010 census.

He was married in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at age 25 to Addie May Cady. They had six children. After the Williamses moved to Los Angeles, they took up residence in the Silver Lake district. [2] [3]

Silver Lake, Los Angeles Neighborhood of Los Angeles

Silver Lake is a residential and commercial neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles, California, United States. Originally named Ivanhoe in the 1900s by a resident from Scotland, it was built around what was then a city reservoir which gives the district its name. The "Silver" in Silver Lake is not because of the water's color, but named for a local politician who helped create the reservoir. The area is known for its restaurants and hipster hangouts, and many notable people have made their homes there. The neighborhood has several public and private schools.

Political activity

See also List of Los Angeles municipal election returns, 1911 and 1929

Williams's first run for the City Council was in 1911, when he came in seventeenth in a field of eighteen at-large candidates, with the highest nine being elected.

At-large is a designation for members of a governing body who are elected or appointed to represent the whole membership of the body, rather than a subset of that membership. At-large voting is in contrast to voting by electoral districts.

In 1914 he was the California State Secretary for the Socialist Party of America and was speaking on behalf of an eight-hour day proposal on the California ballot. He appeared before a group of farmers in Orange County and told them that "if the law would injure California's prosperity the Socialists would not want to see it passed." [4]

Socialist Party of America United States political party

The Socialist Party of America (SPA) was a multi-tendency democratic socialist and social democratic political party in the United States formed in 1901 by a merger between the three-year-old Social Democratic Party of America and disaffected elements of the Socialist Labor Party of America which had split from the main organization in 1899.

The eight-hour day movement or 40-hour week movement, also known as the short-time movement, was a social movement to regulate the length of a working day, preventing excesses and abuses. It had its origins in the Industrial Revolution in Britain, where industrial production in large factories transformed working life. The use of child labour was common. The working day could range from 10 to 16 hours, and the work week was typically six days a week. Robert Owen had raised the demand for a ten-hour day in 1810, and instituted it in his socialist enterprise at New Lanark. By 1817 he had formulated the goal of the eight-hour day and coined the slogan: "Eight hours' labour, Eight hours' recreation, Eight hours' rest". Women and children in England were granted the ten-hour day in 1847. French workers won the 12-hour day after the February Revolution of 1848. A shorter working day and improved working conditions were part of the general protests and agitation for Chartist reforms and the early organisation of trade unions.

Orange County, California County in California, United States

Orange County is located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 3,010,232, making it the third-most populous county in California, the sixth most populous in the U.S., and more populous than 21 U.S. states. Although it is mostly suburban, it is the second most densely populated county in the state, behind San Francisco County. The county's four most populous cities, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine, and Huntington Beach, each have a population exceeding 200,000. Several cities are on the Pacific coast, including Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, and San Clemente.

As a Socialist, he was opposed to the direct-primary method of nominating candidates for public office. He said in 1915 that

The direct primary law permits every vice it is supposed to correct. . . . It relieves employers the necessity of hiring detectives to learn the political affiliation of employees. It makes perjurers of thousands, who register contrary to their convictions, in order to save their jobs. [5]

In the 1929 municipal election he ousted incumbent Douglas Eads Foster in the 12th District, which at that time consisted of Downtown Los Angeles-Hill Street and the Westlake-Silver Lake areas. [1]

Death and aftermath

Williams died in Glendale on April 11, 1931, after a cerebral hemorrhage, leaving his widow and four children, Ward Williams, Wallace R. Williams, Ruth Funk and Helen Livingston. Presbyterian services were followed by cremation. [2] [6]

Williams was the first City Council member to die in office after adoption of the new city charter in 1925—just a few weeks shy of the May 1931 election, in which Williams was not a candidate. Although the name of his wife, Addie Williams, was proposed as an interim council member, the City Council voted the idea down, 9-6, and the seat was left vacant until July 1, when the municipal election winner—Thomas Francis Ford—was installed. [7]

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Preceded by
Douglas Eads Foster
Los Angeles City Council
12th district

Succeeded by
Thomas Francis Ford