Henry Watterson

1840 - 1921

Henry Watterson, an American journalist, was born in Washington, D.C. in 1840.  Watterson was educated by private tutors because his eyesight was somewhat defective. Being fond of literature, he decided to enter into the profession of journalism.

Throughout most of his life he was known as “Marse Henry.” He served with the Confederate army in the War for Southern Independence and for a time edited the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Rebel. After working on newspapers in Alabama, Ohio, and Tennessee, Watterson became an editor of the Louisville (Ky.) Journal. In 1868 he merged that paper with the competing Louisville Courier to form the Courier-Journal, which soon became locally influential and nationally famous.

In his editorials Watterson argued compellingly for the rights of Black Americans and the restoration of home rule to the South. In 1876-77 he served in Congress and vigorously supported S. J. Tilden for President in 1876. Watterson was a prominent figure at the national democratic convention held in St. Louis in 1888, and was a member on the committee on resolutions. He was sharply critical of President Grover Cleveland and opposed William J. Bryan and free silver.

His editorials urging the United States to declare war on Germany earned Watterson a Pulitzer Prize. He supported Woodrow Wilson only intermittently, bitterly attacking American participation in the League of Nations. In 1923 a volume of his editorials, edited by Arthur Krock, was published.