Thompson, William Tappan

▪ American humorist
born Aug. 31, 1812, Ravenna, Ohio, U.S.
died March 24, 1882, Savannah, Ga.

      American humorist remembered for his character sketches of Georgia–Florida backwoodsmen.

      Thompson was orphaned in his early teens, worked briefly on a Philadelphia newspaper, then worked as assistant to the secretary of the Florida territory. He moved to Georgia in the early 1830s. In 1838 he founded the Augusta Mirror, the first of several literary magazines he undertook. Discovering that the South would not support literary periodicals, in 1850 he founded the Savannah (Ga.) Morning News and continued as its editor until his death. Influenced by jurist and sometime humorist Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, Thompson wrote amusing dialect letters from a Major Jones, a Georgia Cracker; these were collected in 1843 as Major Jones's Courtship, which achieved nationwide popularity. Other volumes followed.

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