Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Johnson, Thomas Loftin

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JOHNSON, THOMAS LOFTIN, better known as Tom L. Johnson, an American municipal reformer, born at Georgetown, Ky., in 1854. He received practically no early education. His first employment was with a street-railway company. He rapidly rose to positions of responsibility and acquired a large fortune, partly through inventions relating to street railways. He purchased in 1876 an interest in a street railway of Indianapolis and later acquired large holdings in street railways in Cleveland, Detroit, and Brooklyn. He made these lines profitable by the introduction of through fares and transfers. He disposed of his street-railway interests for a large sum and entered politics. He was defeated for Congress in 1898 but was elected in 1890 and 1892. He was an ardent advocator of the single-tax ideas of Henry George and also his theories of municipal ownership attracted national attention. In 1901 he was elected mayor of Cleveland and was three times re-elected. During his terms of office he introduced radical reforms and won a fight to secure three-cent fares on the street-car lines of the city. He was defeated for the governorship of Ohio in 1903. He retired from active participation of public affairs in 1910 and died in the following year.