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Guide to the Thomas Vincent Cator Papers, 1881-1941
Special Collections M032  
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Thomas Vincent Cator Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1881-1941
    Collection number: Special Collections M032
    Creator: Cator, Thomas Vincent
    Extent: 1 linear ft.
    Repository: Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions:


    Publication Rights:

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.


    Gift of Harold F. Taggart, 1960, 1962, and 1963.

    Preferred Citation:

    [Identification of item] Thomas Vincent Cator Papers, M032, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    Thomas Vincent Cator was born in Roxbury, New York on July 18, 1851. He spent his early years on a farm, attending the local academy when possible. After having taught school at the age of seventeen, Cator attended Cornell University. Upon graduation he entered a New York law firm and soon developed political interests. In 1880 Cator established residence in Jersey City and held an alderman's office for two years.
    Having been bothered with malaria fever for some time, Cator journeyed to San Francisco, California in 1887. It was not long until he was involved in politics again, and in 1889, Cator married Miss Ethel Chapman.
    Politically, Cator was at one time or another an Anti-Monopolist, a Republican, a Democrat, a Prohibitionist, a Nationalist, and a Populist. His most significant political contribution was as the leader of the Populist Party in California from 1890 until its dissolution in 1898. Cator ran for the U.S. Senate on the Populist ticket in 1892, 1894, and 1896, unsuccessfully in each effort. In 1901 he was appointed to the Elections Commission of the city of San Francisco and he served until his death, most of the time as president of the commission. He died on Sept. [19], 1920 of a heart attack.


    The Cator Papers are largely the correspondence received by Vincent Cator at the time of his involvement in the People's Party and afterwards, 1883-1915. Included in the collection are 16 letters written by Cator on various political subjects from 1894-1915. In addition, there are several papers of a legal nature and a biography written by Harold F. Taggart. There are also newspaper clippings of Cator's activities.
    Of primary interest is the correspondence concerning Cator's relationship with the Populist Movement in California and New Jersey, and Cator's position on such issues as government ownership of railroads, free silver, anti-monopoly, and women's sufferage.