Thomas William Hardwick was an American politician from Georgia. Hardwick was born in Thomasville, Georgia. He graduated from Mercer University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1892 and received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Georgia in 1893.
Hardwick practiced law and then entered politics. He was the prosecutor of Washington County, Georgia from 1895 to 1897, a member of the Georgia House of Representatives from 1898 to 1902, and a member of the United States House of Representatives representing Georgia’s 10th district from 1903 to 1914. In 1914 he ran for a seat in the United States Senate in a special election for the unexpired term of Augustus O. Bacon who had died in office. Hardwick won, and served in the Senate from 1915 to 1919.
As a senator, Harwick co-sponsored the Immigration Act of 1918, which was enacted in October of that year. Aimed at radical anarchists who had immigrated to the U.S., the new law enabled deportation of any non-citizen who belonged to an anarchist organization or who was found in possession of anarchist literature for the purpose of propaganda. On April 29, 1919, as a direct result of his sponsorship of the Immigration Act, Senator Hardwick was targeted for assassination by adherents of the radical anarchist Luigi Galleani, who mailed a booby trap bomb to his residence in Georgia. The bomb exploded when a house servant attempted to open the package, blowing off her hands, and severely injuring Senator Hardwick’s wife.
Senator Hardwick was defeated in the Democratic primary for reelection in 1918 by William J. Harris. Hardwick then served as Governor of Georgia from 1921 to 1923, and due to his opposition to the Ku Klux Klan, lost to Clifford Walker in the subsequent election. He ran unsuccessfully for election to the Senate in 1922 and 1924, and then retired from politics.
He spent the rest of his life practicing law, with offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Georgia and Sandersville, Georgia. He died in Sandersville. One of Hardwick’s most notable actions as governor of Georgia was his appointment of Rebecca Latimer Felton to the United States Senate as a temporary replacement for Thomas E. Watson who had died. Though Felton only served for one day, she was the first woman to serve in the Senate.