John William Elmer Thomas

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John William Elmer Thomas

John William Elmer Thomas

“Now go ahead, ask me any questions you want. But don’t expect me to dwell on frivolities. I don’t have the time.”
Senator Elmer Thomas


Born in Indiana and a graduate of DePauw University, Elmer Thomas came to Oklahoma Territory in 1900 as a young lawyer and claimed a homestead near Lawton in 1901. He was elected state senator in Oklahoma’s first legislature after statehood in 1907 and served for 13 years before resigning in 1920 to run for Congress from the 6th District. Though he was defeated, he won his next election in 1922 as a U.S. Representative and was re-elected to the House in 1924. He became a U.S. Senator in 1926 and was re-elected three more times before his defeat in 1950 by Mike Monroney. Thomas remained in his law practice in Washington, D.C. until 1957 when he returned to Lawton. The author of several books including his autobiography, Thomas was recognized as an authority on financial affairs, Native American legislation, and farm and oil matters. He also played a major role in bringing large military installations and the development of water resources into Oklahoma.

Fun fact

Senator Thomas, who was serving as chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Military Appropriations during World War II, was among the very few people who knew about the funding and development of the atomic bomb used in 1945.

Oklahoma connections

Thomas came to Oklahoma Territory in 1900 to open his law practice.




U.S. Senator




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