David K. Watson

From Ohio History Central

David Kemper Watson was born on June 18, 1849, near London, Ohio. He attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1871. He then enrolled in Boston University to study law. He graduated from this institution in 1873. Watson returned to Ohio, where he passed the bar and established a law practice.

During the early 1880s, Watson became a United States district attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. He then won election as Ohio's attorney general in 1887, an office that Watson held for the next four years, winning reelection in 1889. Watson's most famous action while attorney general was his attack on the Standard Oil Company. Watson argued that Standard Oil was a monopoly. While Watson and the State of Ohio won the case in the Ohio Supreme Court, Standard Oil refused to comply with the court's decision. It was not until 1911 that the Standard Oil trust was finally broken.

After his stint as Ohio's attorney general, Watson won election to the United States House of Representatives for a single term—from 1895 to 1897. He continued in government service after his time in Congress, with President William McKinley appointing Watson to a commission to revise the United States' legal code. While serving in this capacity, Watson continued to operate a private legal practice in Columbus, Ohio. He died on September 28, 1918.

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