Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Genevieve Clark Thomson, 1894-1981
By Janelle Zetty, Head of Cataloging, Edith Garland Dupré Library, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Genevieve Clark Thomson was born in Fulton, Missouri on November 30, 1894, to Genevieve Bennett Clark and James Beauchamp "Champ" Clark. "Champ" Clark was a Democrat who served in the House of Representatives and later became Speaker of the House. Genevieve had one sibling, a brother, Bennett, and split her childhood between Washington, D.C. and Bowling Green, Missouri. She attended the Friends' School, an elite private school in Washington, D.C. In 1913, at age 18, Genevieve traveled to Panama with members of Congress to inspect the Panama Canal. She wrote a series of newspaper articles about her trip and took accompanying photographs. At the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession in Washington, D.C., Genevieve helmed the float of the Missouri delegation.
During the 1912 Baltimore Democratic National Convention, Genevieve met newspaper publisher James M. Thomson. Genevieve was at the convention campaigning for her father's Democratic presidential nomination, and James was covering the event for his newspaper, the New Orleans Item. James and Genevieve wed on June 30, 1915, in Bowling Green, Missouri. Afterward, the couple made their home in New Orleans. Genevieve served as an editor for the New Orleans Item where she wrote a daily full-page feature. Genevieve served as chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Woman's National Made in the U.S.A. League. She was the state chairperson for the Louisiana chapter and organized an exhibit of things grown, made and produced in Louisiana for the National Made in the U.S.A. Exposition held in Washington, D.C. Genevieve created the "Use More Cotton" movement. Cotton had fallen out of fashion, and her campaign encouraged consumers to buy more cotton products to stimulate the economy. The Luzerne County Woman Suffrage Party and the Wilkes-Barre League for Suffrage supported the movement to gain support from southern men, who mostly opposed women's suffrage.
James and Genevieve had one child, a son, Champ Clark Thomson, born February 13, 1917. The child passed away on November 1, 1919, following an illness. The boy's sudden death deeply affected Genevieve's father, "Champ" Clark, and he died four years later. Genevieve dealt with the loss of her son and father by devoting herself to charity work.
In 1924, at age 30, Genevieve announced her candidacy to fill H. Garland Dupre's Congressional seat in the United States House of Representatives for Louisiana's 2nd congressional district. The district included nine wards of New Orleans and four small adjoining parishes. It was the first time in the history of Louisiana that a woman was a candidate for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Genevieve based her platform on sugar and rice tariffs as well as flood control. Her campaign slogan was "Help the hand that rocks the cradle. Remember the greatest thing God created is woman." She lost to J. Zach Spearing, with Spearing receiving 16,738 votes to Thomson's 12,745. Genevieve remained involved in politics, however, and assisted in other political campaigns.
In 1941, the Thomsons retired to a farmhouse in Berryville, Virginia. James passed away in 1959 at age 81, and Genevieve followed on February 16, 1981, at age 86.
"3 Candidates for Dupre Seat." The Town Talk (Alexandria), Mar. 24, 1924, p. 1. Newspapers.com (website)
"Champ Clark Passes Away." The Menasha Record, Mar. 3, 1921, p. 1. Newspapers.com (website)
"Champ Clark Thomson Arrives in Orleans." The Times (Shreveport), Feb. 14, 1917, p. 5. Newspapers.com (website)
"Col. Thomson Dies, Former Publisher." Globe-Democrat (St. Louis, Missouri), Sep. 27, 1959, p. 8. Newspapers.com (website)
"Daughter of Champ Clark is Paying Debt of Gratitude to Senator Reed at Convention." The Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, Louisiana), Jun. 26, 1928, p. 10. Newspapers.com (website)
"Engagement of Speaker's Daughter to J.M. Thomson of New Orleans is Announced." St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri), Dec. 28, 1914, p. 3. Newspapers.com (website)
"Genevieve Clark Thomson (1894-1981) - Find A..." Find A Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/137097447/genevieve-thomson.
"Genevieve Clark Thomson." The Champ Clark House, https://champclark.org/these-are-the-stories/genevieve-clark-thomson/.
"Genevieve Clark Thomson." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 June 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genevieve_Clark_Thomson.
Hoffman, Esther. "Speaker Clark's Daughter to be Noted June Bride." The Times (Shreveport), Jun. 22, 1915, p. 5. Newspapers.com (website)
"James M. Thomson." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Dec. 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_M._Thomson.
"Made in Louisiana League." The Daily Signal (Crowley), Sep. 20, 1915, p. 1. Newspapers.com (website)
"Mrs. Thomson Takes Stump for Smith." Weekly Town Talk (Alexandria), Oct. 6, 1928, p. 4. Newspapers.com (website)
"Mrs. Thomson, a Candidate." The Town Talk (Alexandria), Mar. 6, 1924, p. 1. Newspapers.com (website)
"Now a Suffragist, Miss Genevieve Clark to Ride in Captial Pageant." Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), Feb. 13, 1913, p. 10. Newspapers.com (website)
"Only Grandson of Champ Clark Dead." The Washington Times, Nov. 1, 1919, p. 25. Newspapers.com (website)
"Society." The Times (Shreveport), Jun. 30, 1931, p. 6. Newspapers.com (website)
"Spearing is a Easy Winner." Clarion-News (Opelousas), Mar. 29, 1924, p. 9. Newspapers.com (website)
"United States Census, 1920, Generieland Thomson, New Orleans Ward 12, Orleans, Louisiana." HeritageQuest, 11 Sept. 2019.
"Woman Runs for Congress." The Town Talk (Alexandria), Mar. 25, 1924, p. 1. Newspapers.com (website)
"Women Want Ban Upon War." The Times (Shreveport), Jun. 28, 1928, p. 11. Newspapers.com (website)
"Zach Spearing is Nominated." Weekly Town Talk (Alexandria), Mar. 29, 1924, p. 8. Newspapers.com (website)