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|Standish Fletcher Thompson|
|Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 5th district
January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1973
|Preceded by||Charles Weltner|
|Succeeded by||Andrew Young|
|Member of the Georgia State Senate from District 34 (Fulton County)|
January 1965 – January 1967
|Preceded by||Charlie Brown|
February 5, 1925 |
College Park, Fulton County
Russell High School
|Service/branch||United States Air Force|
Standish Fletcher Thompson (born February 5, 1925) is an American lawyer and Republican politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1967 to 1973 from the 5th Congressional District of Georgia.
Thompson was born near Atlanta in College Park in Fulton County, Georgia. He graduated from Russell High School in East Point, Georgia. In 1943, he joined United States Army Medical Corps and transferred the next year to the United States Army Air Corps where he was a navigator with the Air Rescue Service. On demobilization, he attended the Methodist-affiliated Emory University in Atlanta, from which he graduated in 1949. During the Korean War, Thompson re-enlisted in the United States Air Force as a pilot.
On returning from South Korea, Thompson graduated in 1957 from the now closed Woodrow Wilson College of Law in Atlanta. The following year he was admitted to the Georgia bar and established a law firm in East Point. He was also president of an insurance firm.
Thompson was a lifelong Republican, not a convert from the Democratic Party as were most Georgian Republicans at the time. In the November 3, 1964 general election, in which Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona became the first Republican presidential nominee to win Georgia's electoral votes, Thompson defeated then senior Democratic State Senator Charlie Brown in District 34. Thompson was one of only four Republican members of the upper chamber of the legislature at the time. He was selected by the Democratic majority to represent Fulton County in the drafting and sponsorship of the Metropolitan Rapid Transit Authority Act.
Two years later, Thompson ran for Congress, becoming the first Republican since the Reconstruction era to represent Atlanta and the 5th Congressional District in the United States House.
On October 3, 1966, about a month before the general election held on November 8, the incumbent representative, Democrat Charles Weltner, after months of campaigning for reelection, withdrew from the race. Weltner said that he could not continue in the race and honor the loyalty oath that all Democratic candidates were required to take, which in this year would have required him to support the party's segregationist gubernatorial nominee, Atlanta businessman Lester Maddox. Weltner's U.S. House colleague, Howard "Bo" Callaway, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, at first expressed "amusement" over the "foolish" Democrat pledge and claimed that Weltner really withdrew from the reelection race because he feared that Thompson, whom Callawy endorsed, would unseat him. The Athens Daily News agreed with Callaway's assessment and emphasized that anti-Maddox black voters at the time had such little experience with ticket-splitting that Thompson would likely prevail. Callaway later withdrew his comment and hailed Weltner's political courage. Weltner refused to support Callaway in the race against Maddox, opting for a write-in campaign on behalf of Maddox's primary opponent, former Governor Ellis Arnall. Weltner termed southern Republicans "Dixiecrats with button-down shirts" and accused Callaway of being a tool of big business.
The Democratic Executive Committee chose Archie Lindsey, then the chairman of the Fulton County Commission, to replace Weltner on the ballot. Lindsey had only three weeks to mount a campaign. Thompson prevailed, 55,423 (60.1 percent) to Lindsey's 36,751 (39.9 percent). Thompson netted some 30 per cent of the black vote. Even so, Thompson benefited from the white backlash against the Civil Rights Movement and the administration of U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was highly unpopular among segregationist, blue-collar whites who lived in Atlanta's southern and western neighborhoods.
Thompson was re-elected in 1968, when Weltner, running on the Humphrey-Muskie ticket, sought a comeback. Thompson was again reelected in 1970, when he defeated Andrew Young, who after the next election in 1972 in a revised district succeeded Thompson in the Fifth District.
During his various campaigns, Thompson campaigned not only in majority white precincts but also in predominantly black ones. He also was the principal speaker at the annual convention of the United States Postal Alliance, a union of African-American postal employees.
Thompson's success in winning in a traditionally Democratic district that was by then 40 percent non-white was noted in Time magazine. The publication described Thompson as an "unreconstructed conservative who opposes busing, liberal judges, Jane Fonda in Hanoi, Black Power and gun control." Thompson helped create a rift between the Black community and Black Panther Party in Atlanta. Thompson was quoted by journalist J. Lowell Ware (September 18, 1971), "the Black Panthers should stay in California," and "neither they nor their philosophy are welcome in Atlanta."
Thompson was editorially endorsed by C. A. Scott, a Republican and owner of the Atlanta Daily World, the only daily African-American newspaper in Georgia. He was the first member of Congress from Georgia ever to name African Americans to West Point and the other military academies. He was the first 5th District congressman to employ an African American in his Atlanta office.
In 1972, Thompson ran for the U.S. Senate; he won the Republican primary with little opposition. Sam Nunn defeated David Gambrell in the Democratic primary; Gambrell had been appointed by then Governor Jimmy Carter to succeed the late Richard B. Russell. When President Richard M. Nixon, a Republican, visited Atlanta a month before the general election, he did not endorse Thompson, in keeping with his strategy at the time to maintain alliances with conservative Southern Democrats. Nixon had similarly snubbed Gil Carmichael in Mississippi that year, who was challenging Senator James O. Eastland, and even his former Postmaster General Winton Blount, who fell far short in a challenge to Senator John Sparkman of neighboring Alabama. Democratic Governor Jimmy Carter exploited the snub to declare that Nixon would just as soon have Nunn in the Senate as Thompson, and Nunn endorsed Nixon over the national Democratic nominee George McGovern of South Dakota. "Nixon/Nunn" signs were posted all over Georgia, as were "Wallace/Nunn" in rural areas and “McGovern/Nunn” signs in urban areas.
With limited national Republican support, Thompson lost to Nunn, 362,501 votes (46.5 percent) to 404,890 (52 percent).
After leaving the U.S. House, Thompson returned to his law firm in Atlanta. In 1985, he was made a member of the Atlanta Regional Commission. In 2017, the 92 year old Thompson endorsed Karen Handel in a special election for the 6th Congressional District, which overlapped with his old Fifth Congressional District.
Thompson resides in Marietta, Georgia.
- Billy Hathorn, "The Frustration of Opportunity: Georgia Republicans and the Election of 1966", Atlanta History: A Journal of Georgia and the South, XXI (Wintger 1987-1988), p. 43
- Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, p. 1277
- Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, p. 1441
- United States Congress. "Fletcher Thompson (id: T000217)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved on 2008-01-24
- United States Congress. "Fletcher Thompson (id: t000217)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved on 2008-01-24
|U.S. House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 5th congressional district
January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1973